The African Novel and the Modernist Tradition

The African Novel and the Modernist Tradition

The African Novel and the Modernist Tradition

The African Novel and the Modernist Tradition

Synopsis

"The African Novel and the Modernist Tradition challenges, from a literary perspective, the general thinking that what is European and American is uniquely different from what is African. The book examines key African novels side by side with British and American modernist novels. Through this comparative study, it demonstrates the manner in which several African novelists have taken full advantage of the experimentation that modernism offers to tackle their own 'crisis of culture'. This study shows that African novelists clearly understand what modernism is and employ to advantage its consciousness of disorder, despair, and anarchy. The African Novel and the Modernist Tradition is thus able to conclude that the African novel is part of a larger fictional universe." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart (1958), one of the first African novels to gain international acclaim, appropriated its title from the spirit of the modernist age. Yet discussions of the African novel, novels that were published in quick succession after Achebe's debut, tend to ignore the significance of his choice of title. Nor did critics take the cue when Achebe also chose the title of his second novel, No Longer at Ease (1960) from T. S. Eliot 'The Journey of the Magi.' Surely, the insistence on these themes suggests a conscious attempt by Achebe to respond to the scenario of chaos caused by colonialism which for him and for other African writers bore resemblance 'to the horror,' 'the nightmare of history' that modernist writers in Europe and America were writing about. Modernism provided the African novelist with an art that could adequately express his view of history.

My purpose in this book is to show the manner in which several African novelists have taken full advantage of the experimentation that modernism offers to tackle their own 'crisis of culture'. I shall show how modernism's consciousness of disorder, despair and anarchy is the perfect medium for the African novelist for conveying on the one hand his nostalgia for the past, with all its imperfections and on the other hand his . . .

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