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Hypertextuality and the Economic Novel in Zimbabwe

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Recent surges and advances in the popular use of electronic technology such as Internet, email, iPad, iPhone, and touch-screens in Africa have opened up great communicative possibilities among ordinary people whose voices were previously marginalized in traditional elitist media. People far apart geographically and living in different times can communicate rapidly and with great ease. This technological revolution has challenged and broken down boundaries of dependence on television, newspapers, and novels, the traditional forms of communication. It is now possible to upload a novel onto an iPad and read it as one moves from place to place. The burden of carrying hard copies is relieved but not eradicated; in most African countries, including Zimbabwe (the centre of focus in the present article), the creative work of art or hard copy of a novel is still relied upon as source of information. There are creative, experimental innovations in the novel form in Zimbabwe which to some extent can justify one’s speaking of a hypertextual novel. This new type of novel incorporates multiple narratives, and sometimes deliberately uses genres such as the email form as a constitutive narrative style that confirms as well as destabilizes previous assumptions of single coherent stories told from one point of view. Using the concepts of hypertextuality, intertextuality, and Bakhtin’s notions of carnivalesque and heteroglossia in speech and written utterances, this article reconsiders the implications of the presence of ideologies of hypertextuality in one novel from Zimbabwe, Nyaradzo Mtizira’s The Chimurenga Protocol (2008). The article argues that the multiplicity of narratives constitutes the hypertextual dimension of the novelistic form.

Affiliations: 1: University of South Africa, Pretoria


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