Wole Soyinka, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and one of the foremost living African writers, here analyses the interconnecting worlds of myth, ritual and literature in Africa. The ways in which the African world perceives itself as a cultural entity, and the differences between its essential unity of experience and literary form and the sense of division pervading Western literature, are just some of the issues addressed. The centrality of ritual gives drama a prominent place in Soyinka's discussion, but he deals in equally illuminating ways with contemporary poetry and fiction. Above all, the fascinating insights in this book serve to highlight the importance of African criticism in addition to the literary and cultural achievements which are the subject of its penetrating analysis.
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(216mm x 138mm x 11mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
In five essays, Nigerian playwright Soyinka analyzes "the self-apprehension of the African world" as transmitted through myth, ritual and contemporary African literature. He traces traditional African moral and aesthetic concepts, the "irreducible truths" of the African world-view, from the stories of the gods to contemporary drama. In the process he defends the creative vitality and technical sophistication of ritual drama as a means of transmitting "serf-apprehension," and refutes European assumptions of a superiority of intellect and technique, as reflected in the writings of Jung, Sartre, and other European thinkers, as well as by his fellow Africans. Marxism, Surrealism, and other European movements are used as examples of the spiritual bankruptcy that generates "creative impulses. . . directed by period dialectics." Equally critical of the Negritude movement and "African intellectualism in general," he cites them for "failing to come to grips with the very foundations of Eurocentric epistemology." In contemporary African novels Islamic and Christian systems confront "the protean nature of the symbols of African metaphysics." Soyinka, now at the University of Ghana, presents extensive evidence to support his argument that the literature of modern black Africa should reaffirm the basic values of traditional African societies. Concrete and stimulating. (Kirkus Reviews)
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