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Genre: fidelity and transgression in the postcolonial African novel

Msiska, Mpalive-Hangson (2012) Genre: fidelity and transgression in the postcolonial African novel. In: Goebel, W. and Schabio, S. (eds.) Locating Postcolonial Narrative Genre. Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures. London, UK: Routledge, pp. 77-91. ISBN 9780415539609.

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Abstract

The paper traces the historical development of genre in the Post-colonial African novel. It argues that, contrary to the linear delineation of the development of novelistic genre in Africa offered by critics such as Kwame Anthony Appiah, where a contrast is posited between, on the one hand, a first stage, characterised as Nationalist, Realist and Nativist and, on the other, a second which is defined as Post-Nationalist, Post-Realist and Post-Nativist, the evolution of the African novel in fact confounds such neat distinctions. The question of genre in African can best be read as a simultaneous impulse for fidelity to tradition and its transgression, producing complex generic fusions, as in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart which is exemplifies both Realism and Modernism as well as African Oraturial aesthetics. Such an approach also shows how each stage of the development of the genre is particular as well as universal. Book synopsis: This volume explores how postcolonial texts have determined the evolution or emergence of specific formal innovations in narrative genres. While the prominence of questions of cultural identity in postcolonial studies has prevented due attention to concerns of literary form and aesthetics, this book gives premium to the literary, aiming to delineate the evolution of specific narrative techniques as part of an emerging postcolonial aesthetics. Essays delineate elements of an emergent postcolonial narratology across a variety of seminal generic forms, such as the epic, the novel, the short story, the autobiography, and the folk tale, focusing on genre as a powerful tool for the historicizing of literature and orature within cultural discourses. Investigating the heuristic value of concepts such as mimicry, writing back, translation, negotiation, or subversion, the book considers the value of explanatory paradigms for postcolonial generic models. It also explores the status of postcolonial comparative aesthetics versus globalization studies and liberal concepts of the transnational, taking issue with the prominence of Western concepts of identity in discussions of postcolonial literature and the favoring of mimetic forms. This volume offers a unique contribution to the study of narrative genre in postcolonial literatures and provides valuable insight into the field of postcolonial studies on the whole.

Item Type: Book Section
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): genre, realism, modernism, african, post-colonial, novel, Achebe, Ngugi, orature, avant garde
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Arts > English and Humanities
Depositing User: Dr Mpalive-Hangson Msiska
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2012 17:43
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/5774

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