- Individual Authors
Ezenwa-Ohaeto. CHINUA ACHEBE: A BIOGRAPHY. Indiana University Press, 1997. xii + 326 pp., illus. No price listed.
There can be few biographies of African authors written by Africans and published in England and the United States. As the foremost Anglophone novelist in Africa, Achebe is a logical choice for the honor, for “writers from Africa and elsewhere had come to define themselves on the basis of [his] books.” This is not a critical biography, for Ezenwa-Ohaeto is interested more in the novels’ contexts than in their workings. As a former student of Achebe’s and a member of his Igbo tribe, he is able to provide a powerful sense of the cultural background which is so central to these novels, as of the terrible Biafran War which for a time put an end to Achebe’s writing and threatened to end his life, as it did for Nigerian national aspirations. The story ends in 1993, with Achebe teaching at Bard College and recovering from a serious automobile accident, before the last years of the most recent—and probably worst—military dictatorship in Africa’s most pivotal country. This will surely not be the last biography of Achebe or of African writers in general, for this is one of those rare—if troubled—regions in which men of letters may still serve as moral exemplars. But it is a noteworthy beginning. MPL
Okechukwu, Christiana Maria-Goretti. The Art of Persuasion in Chinua Achebe’s Novels. Catholic University of America, 1998, DA LIX-3-820.
Began, Richard. “Achebe’s Sense of an Ending: History and Tragedy in Things Fall Apart.” Studies in the Novel XXIX:3 (Fall 1997), 396–411.
E Roessner, Jeffrey. “God Save the Canon: Tradition and the English Subject in Peter Ackroyd’s English Music.” Post Identity I:2 (Summer 1998), 104–124.
C Foley, Diane Lee. The Andean World in the Works of Ciro Alegria. State University of New York at Buffalo, 1997, Mireya Camurati, DA LVIII-8-3150.
A Aleichem, Sholem. Ted Gorelick, tr. Ken Frieden, ed. NINETEEN TO THE DOZEN: MONOLOGUES AND BITS AND BOBS AND OTHER THINGS. Syracuse University Press, 1998. xiii + 177 pp. No price listed.
E Omoteso, Ebenezer Adedeji. “A Study of Intertextuality and Mythology in Jorge Amado’s Mar Morto.” Estudos Portugueses e Africanos XXX (1997), 5–14.
A Bell, Robert, ed. CRITICAL ESSAYS ON KINGSLEY AMIS. G.K. Hall & Co., 1998. xv + 344 pp. $49.00.
Kingsley Amis is among my least favored English novelists, but there can be no denying that for a particular moment in literary history, he is perhaps the most important and representative [End Page 489] novelist. Lucky Jim, published in 1954, announced a new voice in British letters that resonates still. Unfortunately, it resonates in ways that for a generation—supplementing the critical efforts of C.P. Snow and F.R. Leavis—proved largely destructive for the novel in Britain. Critics have spoken with some regret that Amis became a reactionary in his later work; to my mind, that reactionary quality is present also in Lucky Jim: what follows in Amis’ career seems to me a logical result of its starting point. This generous selection of essays assumes Amis’ importance and represents well the breadth both of his accomplishment and of the critical response. Bell’s own introductory essay—“Kingsley Amis in the Great Tradition and in Our Time”—ably sums up those parameters, and Shari Benstock’s closing essay—“Can a Feminist (Still) Read Kingsley Amis?”—poses, in a very personal way, the sort of problems that face present and will face future readers of Amis. I would be inclined to ask instead, Can a Modernist still read Amis? Could one ever? The very existence of this book suggests that we must at least try to. Bell’s fine labor is an act of homage that will surely help to frame the future debate. MPL
E Adames, John. “A.R. Ammons’s Search for a Supreme Fiction in Sphere.” Twentieth Century Literature XLIII:1 (Spring 1997), 41–56.