The African Imagination: Literature in Africa and the Black by F. Abiola Irele

By F. Abiola Irele

This selection of essays via one among Africa's prime students examines African literary traditions within the vast experience, and locations the paintings of person authors in context. right here F. Abiola Irele offers probing severe readings of the works of Chinua Achebe, Kamau Brathwaite, Amadou Hapae Ba, and Amadou Kourouma, between others. as well as discussing texts relevant to the evolving canon of African literature, The African mind's eye addresses either the turning out to be presence of African writing within the international literary market and the connection among African intellectuals and the West.

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For historical reasons with which we are familiar, the term African literature does not obey this convention. The corpus is in fact multilingual. The variety of languages covered by the term can be appreciated by a consideration of the range of literatures in Africa. These literatures fall into three broad categories: the traditional oral literature, the new written literature in the African languages (these two closely bound by their common basis in the various indigenous languages), and, finally, the written literature in languages not indigenous to Africa, in particular the three European languages of English, French, and Portuguese.

The example of Achebe illustrates how the oral tradition has come to govern the processes of creation in the work of other African writers who have achieved significance in our modern literature. In the poetry of Leopold Sedar Senghor, the cadences of oral poetry underlie the flow of his processional lines in a verse form that is at the same time an elegiac and a heroic celebration of an entire continent and people. " Similarly, Ayi Kwei Armah's Fragments and Two Thousand Seasons effect a deliberate return to the oral mode, in the former intermittently, in the latter as an organic foundation for his narrative, which presents in a collective plural the steadiness of the collective voice, which translates the persistence of communal being affirmed by the novel.

It is useful nonetheless to make the distinction for clarity and to facilitate analysis. In any event, it is the last level or category that interests us, for it is here that we encounter what must be accepted in many African societies as a consecrated body of texts. The notion of text itself needs to be clarified here. Not only must we conceive of this as a sequence—whether extended or not—of structured enunciations, which form therefore a pattern of discourse, but we must also consider the nature of those specimens in the oral tradition that are endowed with the same character of literariness as written texts.

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