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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:African literature and the writing subject
Author:Mouralis, B.ISNI
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:Subsaharan Africa
oral literature
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3819301
Abstract:Researchers and critics interested in African literature have often insisted on its collective dimension. They regard literature, oral as well as written, as a source of information about the institutions, religious practices, beliefs and history of African society. However, by focusing on such matters, these researchers and critics overlook two crucial aspects: the nature of the discourse in which a literary work participates and the specific use it makes of language. The present author proposes a shift in perspective from this preoccupation with the semantic content of texts to a focus upon the nature of discourse. From this perspective he studies the role of the griot and shows that a griot fulfills a transgressive function in his society: he says what others are unable to say. Then he turns to the Negritude literature of the 1930s and 1940s and shows that its principal innovation is a 'coming to the word', a 'prise de parole', which gave birth to the notion of the African writer. These examples make clear that literary critics have to comprehend African literature as an art of language and the African writer as a writing subject. Bibliogr.