This book grew out of the years I spent teaching literature at Njala University College in Sierra Leone. While it takes as its subject the development of contemporary African literature in relation to its social context, it is marked by the impact that living in the Njala community had on my own personal and intellectual development. I am particularly indebted to the members of the Department of Language Education at Njala for introducing me to African literature, getting me involved in the debates in the field, and inspiring me to take on this project. To Amy Davies, Jamie Dennis, Max Gorvie, Siaka Kroma, Morie Manyeh, Francis Ngaboh-Smart, Joe Pemagbi, Julius Spencer, thanks also for providing the very best of company.
I am also intellectually indebted to Fredric Jameson for his The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act and to Abdul R. JanMohamed for his Manichean Aesthetics: The Politics of Literature in Colonial Africa. These works provided the theoretical framework for my study. Manichean Aesthetics has been largely ignored by students of African literature. The reason for this is difficult to discern, for JanMohamed engages complex theoretical issues in lucid terms. And while I am critical of him for ignoring gender as a social and analytic category, my own analysis is meant not to refute but to complement his in defining the characteristics of contemporary African literature.
For her advice and support throughout my research, I am very grateful to Liz Gunner. Her suggestions were indispensable and her enthusiasm and friendship made working with her a pleasure.
The encouragement of Lyn Innes, Bernth Lindfors, Len Moody, Rowland Smith, and Richard Taylor aided me in significant ways. I also want to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the London House Association of Canada, and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United