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The Conscript

A Novel of Libya's Anticolonial War

Gebreyesus Hailu

Publication Year: 2013

Published by: Ohio University Press

Series: Modern African Writing Series

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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Translator's Note

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pp. vii-xiv

This is the first complete translation of The Conscript into English or any other language. Since 1995, when I first read the novel, I have had a strong desire to translate it as a tribute to celebrate the vitality of African-language literature(s). ...

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pp. xv-xxviii

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart was, until recently, widely regarded as the first major African novel, with supporting roles given to other 1950s African works by Camera Laye, Mongo Beti, Amos Tutuola, and Ferdinand Oyono. The canonization of Achebe’s 1958 Nigerian work, ...

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Preface to the Tigrinya Edition

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pp. xxix-xxx

This book which is being printed under the title A Story of a Conscript reflects my impressions when, at the age of eighteen, I traveled by sea to Italy to seek an education. It is also about the memory of my fellow-countrymen, the ascari recruits, who were traveling overseas at that time. ...

The Conscript

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1. A Portrait of Youth

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pp. 3-10

He put down his gun beside him, knelt down before his parents, and asked: “My mother and father bless me, for I do not know what my fate will be in Tripoli.” Tuquabo was dressed in a gray uniform with a colorful belt that embellished his waist, and from his ankle to his knee was bandaged with a thick strip of cloth ...

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2. The Departure from Asmara

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pp. 11-22

Asmara is a city built in the Hamasien region on a plain. Someone who sees it from Ras Alula Palace finds it beautiful and affecting. The coming of the Italians made it perfect, with well-made streets and roads lined with trees on each side. ...

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3. Deep in the Wilderness

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pp. 23-44

This poem was written by Leopardi, a famous Italian poet. It could have been written for the Habesha conscripts. Having crossed the seas, the conscripts had now landed in the hot, dry wilderness, leaving behind their land, family, relatives, and friends. “Dear friend, do you think people live in this dry sand?” ...

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4. The Thirst of Death

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pp. 45-58

Early one morning the general commander passed the order that everyone should pack to leave and shouted, “Gird up your loins and move!” For himself, he carried water on his mule. So did his Italian companions. But who would look out for the conscripts? Even if they dried up from thirst, who would really care? ...

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Biographical sketches

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pp. 59-60

Gebreyesus Hailu (1906–1993) was a prominent and influential figure in the cultural and intellectual life of Eritrea during the Italian colonial period and in the post-Italian era in Africa. With a PhD in theology, he was vicar general of the Catholic Church in Eritrea and played several important roles in the Ethiopian government, ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780821444450
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821420232

Page Count: 64
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Modern African Writing Series