Tradition and Modernity in the African Short Story: An Introduction to a Literature in Search of Critics

Tradition and Modernity in the African Short Story: An Introduction to a Literature in Search of Critics

Tradition and Modernity in the African Short Story: An Introduction to a Literature in Search of Critics

Tradition and Modernity in the African Short Story: An Introduction to a Literature in Search of Critics

Synopsis

This pioneering study of the African short story offers a two-part approach to a literary form that has long been neglected by scholars on the continent. Balogun first offers a general survey method and approach for close textual analysis, followed by discussions of two representative writers. The work of Achebe, a traditional realist, and Taban lo Liyong, a post-modernist experimentalist, is examined for general themes and structures. Detailed examinations of Achebe's Girls at War and lo Liyong's Fixions and The Uniformed Man are also included.

Excerpt

The motivation for commencing the study of African short stories a decade ago was provided by the sharp contrast I had observed between Africa, on the one hand, and Europe and the United States, on the other hand, regarding the treatment of the genre of the short story. While the genre was, and is still, popular in all three continents--being widely written and read, it was only in Africa that literary scholars had completely ignored its existence. The extent of the incorporation of the short story into the academic curriculum would provide a useful illustration of the seriousness with which Euro-American scholars regarded the short sory.

The philology faculty of the Leningrad State University, Leningrad, USSR where I studied, had two special seminar courses, one on the Russian short story and the other on the Soviet short story. It was at these seminars that I discovered both the greatness of the short story as an art form as well as the seriousness with which it was studied by literary scholars. This was how I came later to choose doing my doctoral dissertation on two decades of Russian Soviet short stories as a graduate student at the University of Illinois, Urbana, USA. Here, too, I witnessed the same level of seriousness in the attention paid to the short story. Eager to further deepen my knowledge of the genre, I went outside my major department, Slavic Languages and Literatures, to audit the un-

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