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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:In search of African literary aesthetics: production and reception of the texts of Amos Tutuola and Yvonne Vera
Author:Hart, CarolynISNI
Periodical:Journal of African Cultural Studies
Geographic terms:Nigeria
English language
oral traditions
About persons:Amos Tutuola (1920-1997)ISNI
Yvonne Vera (1965-2005)ISNI
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13696810903259400
Abstract:English language texts of Africa and its diaspora that are 'transgressive' in the sense that they deviate from realist, linear narratives, may be linked under the categories of modern, postmodern, or postcolonial literatures. Postcolonial critics generally consider such writing to respond to colonization and Western literatures, which the texts subvert by 'writing back'. This article suggests that artistic principles present in indigenous African oral arts including music and in particular drumming, as well as oral storytelling, provided a resource-base for the aesthetics of the texts of Amos Tutuola (Nigeria) and Yvonne Vera (Zimbabwe), the first of which were published in 1952 and 1992, respectively. These aesthetics include fusion between the physical and metaphysical worlds, a preponderance of images, use of repetition and sound and rhythm of words, nonlinear narrative, and nonclosure. The article examines the conditions that gave rise to the production of Tutuola's texts and their reception, particularly among European publishers and critics. It explores the resource-base for the aesthetics of his 'The Palm-Wine Drinkard' (1952) and argues for the presence of aesthetics based in oral arts and cross-cultural exchange within Yoruba culture. Discussion of the production and critical reception of his texts shows that Tutuola wrote texts that were considered innovative within the European and American contexts, without appropriating modern and postmodern techniques. The article similarly explores the production and critical reception of Vera's texts. It suggests that Vera, and other writers of texts that lie outside of realist, linear narratives - even if educated in European, American, and other world literatures - may draw on aesthetic resources based in oral arts indigenous to Africa. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]