The Question Background

The Question Background

Published in 1958, The Question (French title: La Question) was a largely autobiographical work that described methods of torture used by the French military during the Algerian War of Independence. The text recounts the author's arrest by French paratroopers while visiting Maurice Audin, an anticolonialist activist whose apartment was turned into a trap for other anticolonialists. It then goes on to recount the author's experiences in the camps of El Biar and Lodi. The Question was written while Alleg was being help and interrogated in the Barberousse prison of Algiers. With the help of his lawyers, Alleg smuggled the text out of the prison bit by bit. It was published with a preface by famous philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

After selling 60,000 copies in two weeks, The Question was banned by the French government for "attempted demoralization of the army." Alger Républicain--the newspaper for which Alleg served as editor--went underground after its publication. The book was published in Switzerland two weeks later by Nils Andersson, and continued to circulate illegally in France. By the end of 1958, there were more than 162,000 copies in circulation in France alone.

In 1977, the book received a film adaptation by Laurent Heynemann.

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