African Literature, Animism and Politics

By Caroline Rooney | Go to book overview

1

Clandestine Antigones and the pre-post-colonial

It was Antigone who symbolised our struggle.

Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

First, the bare bones of Antigone's case may be given as follows: Antigone defends the cause of her outlaw brother, Polynices. He has been slain in a battle that he initiated against his brother, Antigone's other brother, Eteocles, whom he has killed. Creon, the King, decrees that the outlaw brother not be given a proper burial. Antigone, believing in a justice beyond the law of the state, contravenes Creon's edict and is sentenced to death. Or, this is what Mandela states:

[Creon] has decreed that the body of Polynices, Antigone's brother, who had rebelled against the city, does not deserve a proper burial. Antigone rebels, on the ground that there is a higher law than that of the state. Creon will not listen to Antigone, neither does he listen to anyone but his own inner demons. His inflexibility and blindness ill become a leader, for a leader must temper justice with mercy. It was Antigone who symbolised our struggle; she was, in her own way, a freedom fighter, for she defied the law on the grounds that it was unjust. 1

Second, here are some propositions to get this going:

Antigone is a bearer of a message. She bears this message on behalf of the spirit of another being who is not able to make its (his or her) case for itself, in itself.

Antigone is, in a sense, writing.

She is not writing at the disposal of the sovereign subject.

She, as writing, tries to put herself at the service of the voice, petition, case of an overlooked other.

If writing, for philosophy, is put at the service of the would-be transcendental sovereign subject, Antigone, as writing, functions rather as literature does.

-31-

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African Literature, Animism and Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Clandestine Antigones and the Pre-Post-Colonial 31
  • 2 - From Hegel on Africa Towards a Reading of African Literature 154
  • Notes 228
  • Index 241
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