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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Devices of evasion: the mythic versus the historical imagination in the postcolonial African novel
Author:Ogundele, WoleISNI
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:Africa
About person:Albert Chinualumogu Achebe (1930-2013)ISNI
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/research_in_african_literatures/v033/33.3ogundele.pdf
Abstract:How satisfactorily has postcolonial African literature answered to the task of engagement with the precolonial past? How sturdy is its historical imagination - especially in its most popular form, the novel, whose thematic and formal properties are of the same narrative impulses as those of history and historiography? Rather than seek answers in specific novels that critics identify as 'historical', this paper focuses on the more general problems confronting the historical imagination in postcolonial Africa. The paucity of historical novels on the precolonial past says much about the predisposition of the postcolonial elite to that past. The absence of a vigorous historical imagination indicates a preoccupation with the immediate colonial past and the all-absorbing postcolonial present. The paper first reviews the criticism of the 'African historical novel'. It argues that colonialism, nation-Statism, the rejection of African languages as the languages of intellectual discourse, and the use of the substance of orature as source and model have combined to deplete contemporary African historical imagination. The discussion of these obstacles is followed by a brief look at history in Chinua Achebe's 'Things fall apart' (1958), the one novel all critics agree is a model African historical novel. The paper ends on the need for a historical consciousness and imagination in postcolonial African literature that is more responsive to the precolonial past. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]