Hybridizing political criticism in the postcolonial African novel: magical realism as aesthetics of necessity

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Moussa Issifou (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Hephzibah Roskelly

Abstract: This dissertation examines the use of magical realism as a device for political criticism in the postcolonial African novel as seen in the works of of Kojo B. Laing, Ben Okri, and Ngugi wa Thiong'o, namely Woman of the Aeroplanes, The Famished Road, and Wizard of the Crow, respectively. I argue that, in these novels, magical realism is not merely a literary mode; rather, it is an aesthetic of necessity. In other words, its use by these postcolonial African writers is dictated by the kind of issues they address in their works. Magical realism is the result of an intentional break away from the modes used in the previous African novels. This departure is informed by the realization of the current generation of postcolonial African writers that the social, political, and economic situations in Africa have extraordinary origins which require extraordinary narrative techniques such as fantastical or marvelous realism for adequate representations. In other words, their choice of magical realism is informed by their dissatisfaction with social realism, satire, and other forms which have revealed their limits vis-àvis the postcolonial African crisis. Because of the postcolonial critics' tendency to assess all magical realist texts with the same criteria, this dissertation emphasizes how the socio-cultural milieus on which the authors I examine draw variously shape their individual magical realist texts. Chapter One discusses magical realism as aesthetic of necessity from its original application to art criticism to its current intervention in the postcolonial literary criticism. Chapter Two discusses Laing's use of a utopian-grounded existentialist magical realism to create limitless possibilities for the creation of a new Africa. Chapter Three focuses on Okri's use of the "abiku" myth to describe the condition of post-independence Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular. Finally, Chapter Four examines how Ngugi draws on Gikuyu folklore to create fabulous realism and satirical magical realism for his depiction of the social, economic, and political situations of postcolonial Kenya and Africa.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Aesthetics of Necessity, Magical Realism, Political criticism, Postcolonial African novels
African fiction $x Study and teaching
Postcolonialism in literature
Ideology in literature

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