The African Imagination : Postcolonial Studies, Canons, and Stigmatization

Garuba, Harry
December 2003
Research in African Literatures;Winter2003, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p145
Academic Journal
Literary Criticism
This article discusses the book "The African Imagination," by Abiola Irele. This simple narrative, familiar enough to African academics, seems to me to acquire a massive significance when we turn to the essays in this book. Certainly more than any other text, this novel has come to be the seen as central to the evolving canon of African literature and, lately, of postcolonial literatures. Irele's reading of the essay, "Things Fall Apart," in this book represents the most detailed and sustained effort, to reverse this stigmatization and redirect attention to what this book says to Africans about African culture and society. The focus on Africa in and for itself rather than its relational positioning with reference to Eurocentric discourses, the centralization of the moral rather than the ideological question, and the rigor of analysis is what makes this essay such a significant effort at redirecting the attention of African literary critics. For those who cherished the groundbreaking work done in Irele's earlier book, "The African Experience in Literature and Ideology," this new book will be especially welcome because it shows that even though the critic may have emigrated, his research and critical agenda have not been fundamentally reconstituted in the direction of the West.


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