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On The Powers And Limits Of Literature

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Chapter Summary

In a recent special issue of Research in African Literatures, Karin Barber and Graham Furniss call for renewed attention to African literature in indigenous languages. They notice that 'postcolonial literary theory has tended to overemphasize writing in English as the site of the postcolonial imaginary'. One can replace English by French and share the diagnosis. One of the effects of this overemphasis has been 'a focus on the relation of postcolonial literature to the metropolitan centre and on the identity of the nation state'. It is time to read differently and to read different texts. This chapter gives examples of what can be done, focusing on local literatures. At the same time the author does not forget the world literary scene and the necessary African presence in that area. The chapter concludes by proposing four pragmatic models of interaction between the local and the global scene offered to African authors.

Keywords: African language; African literatures; Graham Furniss; Karin Barber; postcolonial literary theory



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