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Literature > African Literature
Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics �celebrates the work of Abdilatif Abdalla, one of Kenya�s most well-known poets and a committed political activist. It includes commentary essays on aspects of Abdilatif Abdalla�s work and life, through inter-weaving perspectives on poetry and politics, language and history; with contributions by East African writers and scholars of Swahili literature, including Ngugi wa Thiong�o, Said Khamis, Ken Walibora, Ahmed Rajab, Mohamed Bakari, and Sheikh Abdilahi Nassir, among others. Abdalla became famous in 1973, with the publication of Sauti ya Dhiki (Voice of Agony), a collection of poems written secretly in prison during three years of solitary confinement (1969-72). He was convicted of circulating pamphlets against Jomo Kenyatta�s KANU government, criticizing it as �dictatorial� and calling for political resistance in the pamphlet, 'Kenya: Twendapi?' (Kenya: where are we heading?). His poetry epitomizes the ongoing currency of classic Swahili form and language, while his work overall, including translations and editorships, exemplifies a two-way mediation between �traditional� and �modern� perspectives. It makes old and new voices of Swahili poetry and African literature accessible to a wider readership in East Africa, and beyond. Abdalla has lived in exile since 1973, in Tanzania, London, and subsequently, until now, in Germany. Nevertheless, Swahili literature and Kenyan politics have remained central to his life.
Africa in Narratives illuminates or proves, against the backdrop of attitudes toward nations deemed ëethnicí or ëminoritiesí, that literature in Africa can live up to the challenge of aesthetic imagination to form an active, refreshing part of world cultural discourse. African countries have evolved imaginatively beyond their present ephemeral stages of social and political turmoil not to talk of intellectual imitations of western thought, nation literatures should be subject to the imperative of a continental cooperation.
A representative collection of eighty-one myths and folktales chosen from the oral tradition of the peoples of Africa south of the Sahara.
Originally published in 1970.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
Many African countries achieved independence from their colonisers over five decades ago, but the people and the continent largely remain mere spectators in the arena of their own dance. The post-independence states are supposed to be sovereign, but the levers of economic and political powers still reside in the donor states. Not in many fora is the complex reality that defines Africa more trenchantly articulated than in imaginative literature produced about and on the continent. This is the crux of the essays collected in African Literature and the Future. The book reflects on Africa�s past and present, addressing anxieties about the future through the epistemological lens of literature. The contributors peep ahead from a backward glance. They dissect the trend and tenor of politics and their impact on the socio-cultural and economic development of the continent as portrayed in imaginative writings over the years. One salient feature of African literature is the close affinity between art and politics in its polemics. This is well established in all the six essays in the book as the authors stress the interconnections between literature and society in their textual analyses. On the whole, there is an overwhelming feeling of angst and pessimism, but the authors perceive a glimmer of hope despite daunting odds, under different conditions. Thus, they depict the plausible fate of Africa in the twenty-first century, as informed by its ancient and recent past, gleaned from primary texts.
How do we resolve the insider/outsider interpreting conundrum? Why do readers from different parts of the world read, interpret, or understand foreign literatures the way they do? What drives peculiar critical reactions, canon formations and such issues which determine the survival of cultural productions or their continued adoption as useful bolsters for a people's self-definition or indeed self-preservation and self-determination? African Literature: Gender Discourse, Religious Values, and the African Worldview offers a series of fresh insights into most of the old "problematics" which used to sustain the interpretations of African literature, especially by women. Students, scholars, and general readers wishing to consider issues of gender in relation to African cultural and socioeconomic systems and what Salami-Boukari interrogates and names as an "African worldview," will find the interdisciplinary discussion of historical analyses, literary criticism and gender discourses a useful method for engaging contemporary African perspectives.
Albert Memmi and the Production of Theory
The work of Tunisian Jewish intellectual Albert Memmi, like that of many francophone Maghrebian writers, is often read as thinly veiled autobiography. Questioning the prevailing body of criticism, which continues this interpretation of most fiction produced by francophone North African writers, Lia Nicole Brozgal shows how such interpretations of Memmi’s texts obscure their not inconsiderable theoretical possibilities.
Calling attention to the ambiguous status of autobiographical discursive and textual elements in Memmi’s work, Brozgal shifts the focus from the author to theoretical questions. Against Autobiography places Memmi’s writing and thought in dialogue with several major critical shifts in the late twentieth-century literary and cultural landscape. These shifts include the crisis of the authorial subject; the interrogation of the form of the novel; the resistance to the hegemony of vision; and the critique of colonialism. Showing how Memmi’s novels and essays produce theories that resonate both within and beyond their original contexts, Brozgal argues for allowing works of francophone Maghrebi literature to be read as complex literary objects, that is, not simply as ethnographic curios but as generating elements of literary theory on their own terms.
The Poetics of a Modern Nation, 1950-1979
Disputing the claim that Algerian writing during the struggle against French colonial rule dealt almost exclusively with revolutionary themes, The Algerian New Novel shows how Algerian authors writing in French actively contributed to the experimental forms of the period, expressing a new age literarily as well as politically and culturally. Looking at canonical Algerian literature as part of the larger literary production in French during decolonization, Valérie K. Orlando considers how novels by Rachid Boudjedra, Mohammed Dib, Assia Djebar, Nabile Farès, Yamina Mechakra, and Kateb Yacine both influenced and were reflectors of the sociopolitical and cultural transformation that took place during this period in Algeria. Although their themes were rooted in Algeria, the avant-garde writing styles of these authors were influenced by early twentieth-century American modernists, the new novelists of 1940s–50s France, and African American authors of the 1950s–60s. This complex mix of influences led Algerian writers to develop a unique modern literary aesthetic to express their world, a tradition of experimentation and fragmentation that still characterizes the work of contemporary Algerian francophone writers.
L’écrivain franco-libanais Amin Maalouf est paré d’une image de passeur de cultures, de chantre des exilés et d’ambassadeur des immigrants. Chrétien au Liban, Arabe en France, il semble irrémédiablement minoritaire, irrémédiablement étranger. Il revendique d’ailleurs lui-même ce rôle de médiateur entre l’Orient et l’Occident, prêchant pour un monde du multiculturalisme et de l’identité multiple. Commentateurs et critiques accolent ainsi à son œuvre l’étiquette de la poursuite d’une communion universelle des peuples, l’abordant principalement au regard des questions d’identité, d’exil, de quête des origines et d’appartenances multiples. Le présent ouvrage revisite l’œuvre de ce grand auteur qu’est Amin Maalouf – lauréat du prix Goncourt en 1993 et membre de l’Académie française depuis 2011 – afin de mettre en évidence la complexité de celle-ci et de montrer les diverses voies empruntées pour revenir sans cesse à des images et à des leitmotivs obsessifs. De la cartographie de l’œuvre de Maalouf aux questions de sa réception et de sa lecture, en passant par des perspectives culturelles, idéologiques et politiques, il balise de nouvelles pistes d’interprétation. Premier ouvrage collectif à porter exclusivement sur Amin Maalouf, il réunit des contributions du Canada, de la France, du Maroc, du Cameroun et de l’Afrique du Sud. Se concluant sur une entrevue exclusive avec Amin Maalouf, il saura éveiller la curiosité pour cette œuvre qui, de lecture en relecture, fait surgir ce sens profond de l’humanité et conduit à parcourir autrement la terre et ses frontières, la mer et ses rivages.
Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment
This volume examines the Enlightenment-era textualization of the Black African in European thought. Andrew Curran rewrites the history of blackness by replicating the practices of eighteenth-century readers. Surveying French and European travelogues, natural histories, works of anatomy, pro- and anti-slavery tracts, philosophical treatises, and literary texts, Curran shows how naturalists and philosophes drew from travel literature to discuss the perceived problem of human blackness within the nascent human sciences, describes how a number of now-forgotten anatomists revolutionized the era’s understanding of black Africans, and charts the shift of the slavery debate from the moral, mercantile, and theological realms toward that of the “black body” itself. In tracing this evolution, he shows how blackness changed from a mere descriptor in earlier periods into a thing to be measured, dissected, handled, and, often, brutalized. Penetrating and comprehensive, The Anatomy of Blackness shows that, far from being a monolithic idea, eighteenth-century Africanist discourse emerged out of a vigorous, varied dialogue that involved missionaries, slavers, colonists, naturalists, anatomists, philosophers, and Africans themselves.
The Translations for Nancy Cunard's Negro
In 1934, Nancy Cunard published Negro: An Anthology, which brought together more than two hundred contributions, serving as a plea for racial justice, an exposé of black oppression, and a hymn to black achievement and endurance. The anthology stands as a virtual ethnography of 1930s racial, historic, artistic, political, and economic culture. Samuel Beckett, a close friend of the flamboyant and unconventional Cunard, translated nineteen of the contributions for Negro, constituting Beckett's largest single prose publication. Beckett traditionally has been viewed as an apolitical postmodernist rather than as a willing and major participant in Negro's racial, political, and aesthetic agenda.
In Beckett in Black and Red, Friedman reevaluates Beckett's contribution to the project, reconciling the humanism of his life and work and valuing him as a man deeply engaged with the greatest public issues of his time. Cunard believed racial justice and equality could be achieved only through Communism, and thus "black" and "red" were inextricably linked in her vision. Beckett's contribution to Negro demonstrates his support for Cunard's interest in surrealism as well as her political causes, including international republicanism and anti-fascism. Only in recent years have Cunard's ideas begun to receive serious consideration.
Beckett in Black and Red radically revalues Cunard and reconceives Beckett. His work in Negro shows a commitment to cultural and individual equality and worth that Beckett consistently demonstrated throughout his life, both in personal relationships and in his writing.