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By Neil McEwan (auth.)

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Extra info for Africa and the Novel

Sample text

Toundi serves at a reception in the Residence where M. Salvain the schoolmaster makes a remark which breaks a deeply respected European taboo. Drole de pays! dit Ia femme du pasteur americain avec un fort accent. Ce n'est pas New York City! dit betement sa grosse amie. Les autres Blancs ne semblaient pas comprendre. Elles rirent toutes les deux comme si elles etaient toutes seules. II n'y a pas de moralite dans ce pays, g~mit Ia femme du docteur, faussement desesperee. Pas plus qu'a Parisi riposta l'instituteur.

A bad harvest is recalled with feeling. The ripeness of a bride's body is noted as a pleasing matter of fact. In the larger perspective, traditional life, colonial mentality and Christianity are observed with detachment. 'It was not the mad logic of the Trinity that captivated him', the narrator comments on the conversion to Christianity of Okonkwo's son Nwoye; 'he did not understand it. It was the poetry of the new religion, something felt in the marrow' (Chapter 16). To have written the story in the first person, with a story-teller of Nwoye's generation, would have altered the tone drastically; such a 'wise elder' who had lived under Okonkwo and the missionaries and remained so detached from Colonial Africa: Ache be, Oyono, Camara Laye 23 both would be scarcely credible.

The story is skilfully told and the skill belongs to Ekwefi, to her mother, and her mother's mother. In the second part of the chapter, where Ezinma is taken by the priestess to the Oracle of Hills and Caves, events are presented through the terrified mind of Ekwefi who follows them through the spirithaunted night, sustained by her love of Ezinma; the skill here is a novelist's, and so is that which combines the domestic intimacy of the children's tale with the awful exposure to night and the power of the goddess.

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