The West African writer Amos Tutuola burst onto the postwar metropolitan literary scene with The Palm-Wine Drinkard published by Faber and Faber in 1952. This paper explores the correspondence between Tutuola and his publishers so as to assess the value Faber placed on the manuscript, and to explore the part they played in the shaping and presentation of Tutuola's book. In particular, the paper seeks to explore the interface between the manuscript's (alleged) importance as an anthropological artifact and/or a literary product, and examines how "authenticity" signifies in the presentation of The Palm-Wine Drinkard as written by a naïve artist. In doing so, the paper will seek to demonstrate that if an ambivalence over the value and significance of The Palm-Wine Drinkard provided a window of opportunity that enabled its publication, such instability also provoked acute anxiety over how to manage the work of a "natural artist."


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pp. 15-33
Launched on MUSE
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