The African Imagination: Literature in Africa and the Black Diaspora


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Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.32 X 0.86 inches | 1.01 pounds
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About the Author

Professor F. Abiola Irele's publications include an annotated edition of Selected Poems of Léopold Sédar Senghor (1977), The African Experience in Literature and Ideology (1981; reprinted 1990), and an annotated edition of Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (1994; second edition 1999), as well as numerous articles and reviews and a recent volume of essays, The African Imagination (2001). He is a contributing editor to the new Norton Anthology of World Literature and is currently editor of Research in African Literatures. He is general editor of the series Cambridge Studies in African and Caribbean Literature.


"An interesting collection of essays...Well worth the reading time."--African Studies Review

"Abiola Irele is not only one of the most prominent African critics writing today, but an intellectual figure of commanding importance in an international frame. No one has a subtler appreciation of Africa's present-day cultural complexities. No one has a deeper understanding of the role of the humanities in postcolonial Africa. His trenchant intelligence supports not the byplays of academic disputation, but the judicious, thoughtfully argued positions that have earned his unrivaled position of leadership among that continent's intelligentsia."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University

"The quality of mind and imagination revealed in the essays in this book on the African imagination confirm Abiola Irele's status as the doyen of Africanist literary scholars worldwide. Irele writes with full command of the most current idioms and protocols of critical theory and cultural criticism but does so with the elegance, clarity, and gravity that are often lacking in the intellectual culture of postmodernism. Without ignoring the defeats, dilemmas, and perplexities of the African humanities in the postcolonial era, this book plots the remarkable achievements of the literatures and literary movements of Africa and the African diaspora in the last half century. It will undoubtedly take its place as one of the most significant acts of sustained intellectual reflection on the articulations between African letters and cultural modernity in the last three or four decades."--Biodun Jeyifo, Cornell University

"The African Imagination is a brilliant rethinking and rereading of both the canonical and emergent texts of African literature, as sensitive to its local sources as it is to its global reach, original in its conceptualization of themes and bold in its critical framework, and, ultimately, magisterial in its judgments. Irele writes with authority, and his style is both learned and inventive. His immense knowledge of both European and African literary traditions and texts enables him to open up a set of conversations between and across traditions that are sometimes assumed to be at odds with one another. His sense of relation between African literature and its intellectual and historical context takes us well beyond worn-out notions about postcolonial theory and black difference."--Simon Gikandi, University of Michigan