Friday, May 02, 2008

It's academic

A certified Obama-free posting™ !
No artificial ingredients

From The Valve — A Literary Organ:

Some Uneducated Speculations on "The African Novel" in Tanzania, by Aaron Bady:
Which leads me back to continuing fascination with the ways the “Africa novel” is conceptualized through reference to states of immaturity (which I’ve been going on about here and here). In the case of Oyono and Abrahams, the “boy” of the title is a member of the first generation to leave the traditional home, the first to learn to read, and the first to have a conception of the outside world. This plot, in which the (inevitably male) protagonist becomes modern and literate at the same time as he becomes alienated from the “traditional” world, is a common plot structure among the writers of the late colonial and early independence era. Yet it’s also a very common way that African writers conceptualized their status as writers. In Achebe’s own uber-canonized Things Fall Apart, for example, the novel’s thematic center is the decision by Okonkwo’s oldest son to reject his father, convert to Christianity, and go to school. Yet this decision is also, in a very direct way, a formative event in Achebe’s own family history, which he was loosely fictionalizing: in the trilogy as he originally imagined it (he changed his plans soon after) the first novel would be about his grandfather’s time, the second about his father’s, and the third about his own. In other words, Things Fall Apart is not only a story about colonialism and traditional Igbo life, but it narrates the first branch in the genealogy of Achebe as writer, an originary moment defined by the rejection of the “traditionalism” that Okonkwo is taken to represent.
Things fall apart, all right. Like the ability to write good English. Especially after a few years in academia.

First they came for the language, but because I was not an English major, I said nothing. Then they came for popular culture, but because I was a PBS viewer, I said nothing. Then they came for me, and who was left to speak for me?


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