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Disillusionment and the way forward: The forms of modern anglophone African literature

Webb, Hugh Graham (1977) Disillusionment and the way forward: The forms of modern anglophone African literature. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The purpose of this study is an examination of modern Anglophone African literature of the post-Independence period. Attention is focused on the general nature of African writing within an evidently relevant socio-political context, on the direction of the literary response to the contemporary situation, and on the formal coherence of significant works within this field. The study, as a whole, attempts a comprehensive analysis of this constantly expanding body of works. It incorporates, in part, critical insights and approaches suggested by such theorists as Georg Lukacs, Lucien Goldmann, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Raymond Williams, Frantz Fanon, Donatus I. Nwoga, and Samir Amin.

The dominant thrust of literary production is seen to be directed towards the expression of disillusionment (resulting from the non­realisation of Uhuru ideals), combined with a search for meaningful ways forward. The study concerns itself with those literary works that express such a response, and with the connected question of the relationship between ideological inquiry and literary form. The individual identity of the various works and their relationship to the overall thrust provide the twin poles of critical examination.

Firstly, an historical summary from the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o provides the basis for an appraisal of the modern African historical matrix. The second section of the study represents a wide-ranging overview of the modern literary response, including works of 'established' authors (Soyinka, Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngugi, Awoonor) and of relative newcomers to the field. The third section involves a close formal appraisal of representative works within certain key generic groupings: the Historical Novel (including Armah's Two Thousand Seasons), the Novelistic Auto­ biography (Soyinka's The Man Died), the Realist Novel, the Allegory, the Polemical Poem, and the Satirical Play. The formal potentialities of these generic categories are examined in this section, with the African works seen as manifestations of both literary and socio-political experimentation.

The concluding section investigates certain hypotheses regarding the nature and direction of contemporary Anglophone African literature.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Ruthrof, Horst
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