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The Crafting of Chaos

Narrative Structure in Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel and The Diviners

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Hildegard Kuester

In this study of the Canadian novelist Margaret Laurence, recent narratological models provide the theoretical framework for a textual analysis that aims at complementing previous thematic critiques. The chief focus is on The Stone Angel and The Diviners, which the conclusion then presents in the context of the other novels in Laurence's Manawaka cycle. Consideration of the published works is rounded off with genetic comparison of the novelist's typescript drafts and an evaluation of the manuscript notes kept in the archives of McMaster and York Universities.
The central structural principle of The Stone Angel is its dovetailing of past and present scenes. Temporal arrangement, reflecting the frequency and duration of Hagar's memories, reveals the hold of memory over the central character and her attempts to suppress her fear of mortality. Hagar-as-narrator manipulates character-presentation and description to her own advantage. In a basically oppositional structure, her need for control is reflected in the neat ordering of the narrative. The verbal texture of the novel serves to establish a value system that insists on the superiority of imported culture over Western Canadian forms.
The Diviners shares a number of narrative similarities with The Stone Angel, but the latter's formal rigidity has yielded, by the time Laurence writes her last novel, to the concept of multiplicity - characters, time planes, perspectives and narrative voices (including metafictional commentaries). Textual coherence is secured via narrative strategies (including typography, generational paradigms, repetition, parallelism, intertextuality, and tropological patterning) that render the novel readable and present experience as ordered in a time of cultural flux and personal crisis.

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Edited by Michael Bishop and Christopher Elson

French Prose in 2000 stems in some important measure from work presented in September 1998 at the International Colloquium on French and Francophone Literature in the 1990’s held at Dalhousie University. A good number of papers given at that time, and since revisited in the light of exchanges, join here certain others specifically written for the purposes of this book. Together they constitute a wide-ranging and modally varied interrogation of the current state of French and francophone prose writing, its multifaceted manners, its richly divergent fascinations, its many theoretical or philosophical groundings. The book thus ceaselessly moves its attention from fictional biography to the roman noir, from the writing of Glissant and Chamoiseau to that of the étonnants voyageurs, from the powerful discourse of women such as Chawaf or Condé, Ernaux or Germain, Sallenave or Kristeva, to that of writers as diverse in their modes as Le Clézio and Quignard, Duras and Renaud Camus. All chapters focus, however, in near-exclusive measure, on the prose production of the last ten or twelve years.

Of Minstrelsy and Masks

The Legacy of Ezenwa-Ohaeto in Nigerian Writing

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Edited by Christine Matzke, Aderemi Raji-Oyelade and Geoffrey V. Davis

This collection is dedicated to a distinguished scholar and writer who for a quarter of a century wrote consistently on African literature and the arts and was a major voice in Nigerian literary circles. Ezenwa–Ohaeto made a mark in contemporary Nigerian poetry by committing pidgin to written form and, by so doing, introducing different creative patterns. He also saw himself as a ‘minstrel’, as someone who wanted to read, express and enact his work before an audience. First and foremost, however, Ezenwa–Ohaeto was someone who ‘un-masked’ ideas and meanings hidden in the folds of literary works and made them available to an international academic public. With his outstanding work on Chinua Achebe, he influenced the reception of African literary biography. His networks and connections were extensive and wide-ranging, and they are partly reflected in the essays, creative writing and personal notes assembled in this volume. In their various modes and expressions, the contributions included here constitute a tribute to Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s many talents and achievements. As an extension of Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s legacy, they expand on various aspects of minstrelsy and the un/masking of texts in a Nigerian and broader African context.
The book is divided into six sections. “In Memoriam” contains personal tributes by long-standing colleagues, mentors and friends. “Poetry and Fiction” collects the voices of three generations of Nigerian writing from the 1960s to the present day, followed by poetic and pictorial insights into the domestic and social life of the scholar and family man. Section Four comprises two interviews, while Sections Five and Six are devoted to critical evaluations of Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s work and to contemporary perspectives on Nigerian literature respectively.

Zimbabwean Transitions

Essays on Zimbabwean Literature in English, Ndebele and Shona

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Edited by Mbongeni Z. Malaba and Geoffrey V. Davis

This collection of essays on Zimbabwean literature brings together studies of both Rhodesian and Zimbabwean literature, spanning different languages and genres. It charts the at times painful process of the evolution of Rhodesian/ Zimbabwean identities that was shaped by pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial realities. The hybrid nature of the society emerges as different writers endeavour to make sense of their world.
Two essays focus on the literature of the white settler. The first distils the essence of white settlers’ alienation from the Africa they purport to civilize, revealing the delusional fixations of the racist mindset that permeates the discourse of the “white man’s burden” in imperial narratives. The second takes up the theme of alienation found in settler discourse, showing how the collapse of the white supremacists’ dream when southern African countries gained independence left many settlers caught up in a profound identity crisis.
Four essays are devoted to Ndebele writing. They focus on the praise poetry composed for kings Mzilikazi and Lobengula; the preponderance of historical themes in Ndebele literature; the dilemma that lies at the heart of the modern Ndebele identity; and the fossilized views on gender roles found in the works of leading Ndebele novelists, both female and male.
The essays on English-language writing chart the predominantly negative view of women found in the fiction of Stanley Nyamfukudza, assess the destabilization of masculine identities in post-colonial Zimbabwe, evaluate the complex vision of life and “reality” in Charles Mungoshi’s short stories as exemplified in the tragic isolation of many of his protagonists, and explore Dambudzo Marechera’s obsession with isolated, threatened individuals in his hitherto generally neglected dramas.
The development of Shona writing is surveyed in two articles: the first traces its development from its origins as a colonial educational tool to the more critical works of the post-1980 independence phase; the second turns the spotlight on written drama from 1968 when plays seemed divorced from the everyday realities of people’s lives to more recent work which engages with corruption and the perversion of the moral order.
The volume also includes an illuminating interview with Irene Staunton, the former publisher of Baobab Books and now of Weaver Press.

The Pain of Unbelonging

Alienation and Identity in Australasian Literature

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Edited by Sheila Collingwood-Whittick

Beyond the obvious and enduring socio-economic ravages it unleashed on indigenous cultures, white settler colonization in Australasia also inflicted profound damage on the collective psyche of both of the communities that inhabited the contested space of the colonial world. The acute sense of alienation that colonization initially provoked in the colonized and colonizing populations of Australia and New Zealand has, recent studies indicate, developed into an endemic, existential pathology. Evidence of the psychological fallout from the trauma of geographical deracination, cultural disorientation and ontological destabilization can be found not only in the state of anomie and self-destructive patterns of behaviour that now characterize the lives of indigenous Australian and Maori peoples, but also in the perpetually faltering identity-discourse and cultural rootlessness of the present descendants of the countries’ Anglo-Celtic settlers.
It is with the literary expression of this persistent condition of alienation that the essays gathered in the present volume are concerned. Covering a heterogeneous selection of contemporary Australasian literature, what these critical studies convincingly demonstrate is that, more than two hundred years after the process of colonisation was set in motion, the experience that Germaine Greer has dubbed 'the pain of unbelonging' continues unabated, constituting a dominant thematic concern in the writing produced today by Australian and New Zealand authors.

Local Natures, Global Responsibilities

Ecocritical Perspectives on the New English Literatures

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Edited by Laurenz Volkmann, Nancy Grimm, Ines Detmers and Katrin Thomson

In the New Literatures in English, nature has long been a paramount issue: the environmental devastation caused by colonialism has left its legacy, with particularly disastrous consequences for the most vulnerable parts of the world. At the same time, social and cultural transformations have altered representations of nature in postcolonial cultures and literatures.
It is this shift of emphasis towards the ecological that is addressed by this volume. A fast-expanding field, ecocriticism covers a wide range of theories and areas of interest, particularly the relationship between literature and other ‘texts’ and the environment. Rather than adopting a rigid agenda, the interpretations presented involve ecocritical perspectives that can be applied most fruitfully to literary and non-literary texts. Some are more general, ‘holistic’ approaches: literature and other cultural forms are a ‘living organism’, part of an intellectual ecosystem, implemented and sustained by the interactions between the natural world, both human and non-human, and its cultural representations. ‘Nature’ itself is a new interpretative category in line with other paradigms such as race, class, gender, and identity.
A wide range of genres are covered, from novels or films in which nature features as the main topic or ‘protagonist’ to those with an ecocritical agenda, as in dystopian literature. Other concerns are: nature as a cultural construct; ‘gendered’ natures; and the city/country dichotomy. The texts treated challenge traditional Western dualisms (human/animal, man/nature, woman/man). While such global phenomena as media (‘old’ or ‘new’), tourism, and catastrophes permeate many of these texts, there is also a dual focus on nature as the inexplicable, elusive ‘Other’ and the need for human agency and global responsibility.

Reconstructing Hybridity

Post-Colonial Studies in Transition

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Edited by Joel Kuortti and Jopi Nyman

This interdisciplinary collection of critical articles seeks to reassess the concept of hybridity and its relevance to post-colonial theory and literature. The challenging articles written by internationally acclaimed scholars discuss the usefulness of the term in relation to such questions as citizenship, whiteness studies and transnational identity politics. In addition to developing theories of hybridity, the articles in this volume deal with the role of hybridity in a variety of literary and cultural phenomena in geographical settings ranging from the Pacific to native North America. The collection pays particular attention to questions of hybridity, migrancy and diaspora.

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Edited by Gordon Collier, Marc Delrez, Anne Fuchs and Bénédicte Ledent

This collection ranges far and wide, as befits the personality and accomplishments of the dedicatee, Geoffrey V. Davis, German studies and exile literature scholar, postcolonialist (if there are ‘specialties’, then Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, Black Britain), journal and book series editor.... The volume opens with essays on cultural theory and practice, proceeds to close analyses of ‘settler colony’ texts from Canada, India, Australia, and New Zealand (drama, fiction, and poetry) as well as Pacific drama and Canadian indigeneity, thence ‘homeward’ to the UK (black drama, Scottish fiction, the music of Morrissey) and to German themes (exile literature; fictions about Hitler). Because Geoff’s commitment to literature has always been ‘hands-on’, the book closes with a selection of poems and experimental prose. Writers discussed include Carmen Aguirre, Hany Abu-Assad, Beryl Bainbridge, Albert Belz, Peter Bland, Peter Carey, Lynda Chanwai–Earle, Kamala Das, Robert Drewe, Éric Emmanuel–Schmitt, Toa Fraser, Stephen Fry, Dianna Fuemana, Mavis Gallant, Alasdair Gray, Xavier Her¬bert, Janette Turner Hospital, Elizabeth Jolley, Wendy Lill, Varanasi Nagalakshmi, Arundhati Roy, Daniel Sloate, Drew Hayden Taylor, Jane Urquhart, Roy Williams, and Arnold Zweig.

Ambition and Anxiety

Ezra Pound’s Cantos and Derek Walcott’s Omeros as Twentieth-Century Epics

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Line Henriksen

This comparative study investigates the epic lineage that can be traced back from Derek Walcott’s Omeros and Ezra Pound’s Cantos through Dante’s Divina Commedia to the epic poems of Virgil and Homer, and identifies and discusses in detail a number of recurrent key topoi. A fresh definition of the concept of genre is worked out and presented, based on readings of Homer. The study reads Pound’s and Walcott’s poetics in the light of Roman Jakobson’s notions of metonymy and metaphor, placing their long poems at the respective opposite ends of these language poles. The notion of ‘epic ambition’ refers to the poetic prestige attached to the epic genre, whereas the (non-Bloomian) ‘anxiety’ occurs when the poet faces not only the risk that his project might fail, but especially the moral implications of that ambition and the fear that it might prove presumptuous. The drafts of Walcott’s Omeros are here examined for the first time, and attention is also devoted to Pound’s creative procedures as illustrated by the drafts of the Cantos. Although there has already been an intermittent critical focus on the ‘classical’ (and ‘Dantean’) antecedents of Walcott’s poetry, the present study is the first to bring together the whole range of epic intertextualities underlying Omeros, and the first to read this Caribbean masterpiece in the context of Pound’s achievement.

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Edited by Ewald Mengel, Michela Borzaga and Karin Orantes

Twenty years after the fall of apartheid, South Africa is still struggling with its traumatic past. In this interdisciplinary collection of interviews, prominent South African novelists, psychologists, and academics reflect on the issues of trauma, memory, and narrative.
The authors André Brink, Maxine Case, Sindiwe Magona, Susan Mann, and Zoë Wicomb recount their personal experiences of writing about trauma, discussing its literary-aesthetic relevance and potential. The psychologists Don Foster, Ashraf Kagee, Pumla Gobodo–Madikizela, and Miriam Fredericks reflect on traditional Western conceptualizations of trauma and the need to extend and even re-write trauma theory from a postcolonial perspective. In the third part, Neville Alexander and Alex Boraine look back on the achievements and shortcomings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, describe the state of the nation, and underscore the need to relocate trauma structurally and historically. Annie Gagiano, Helen Moffett, Tlhalo Raditlhalo, and Chris van der Merwe show how trauma theory can open new horizons and create a new vocabulary for literary criticism by tackling issues of gender, representation, and genre.
All in all, these interviews provide fascinating insights into the present state of the South African soul, its current hopes and anxieties. Rather than claiming final answers to a complex and controversial issue, this volume aims at opening up debate and making a contribution to the already existing discussion about trauma in the South African context.