Read e-book online On the Sacred in African Literature: Old Gods and New Worlds PDF

By M. Mathuray

ISBN-10: 0230240917

ISBN-13: 9780230240919

ISBN-10: 1349367311

ISBN-13: 9781349367313

This innovative book offers an unique method of the research of the illustration of delusion, ritual, and 'magic' in African literature. Emphasizing the ambivalent nature of the sacred, it advances paintings at the spiritual measurement of canonical African texts and attends to the patience of pre-colonial cultures in postcolonial areas.

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Extra resources for On the Sacred in African Literature: Old Gods and New Worlds

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Unity emerges out of the contradictions of the sacred, and where there is coherence in contradiction, Derrida reminds us, there is also the force of desire (‘Structure’ 278). ’ (Arrow 73)8 The symbolic transference from the epic hero to sacrificial victim and back again manifests the danger that is often associated with the exercise of power within traditional African social systems. Divine power can either sanctify or pollute. Durkheim, in extending Robertson Smith’s theorising of the ambiguity of the sacred, argues, ‘the pure and the impure are not two separate classes but two varieties of the same class, which includes all sacred things’ (411): the pure and impure transform into and provide a substitute for one another.

Modern power, on the other hand, abrogates the supernatural. In fact, the condition governing the possibility of modernity is the divorce of the political from the theological. The perceived autonomy of the political in the modern Western nation-state allows the state to possess, as Weber has argued, a monopoly of the legitimate use of violence. The colonial state, however, was different from its metropolitan model. This difference is articulated in the narrative by depicting the colonial power as both personalised and arbitrary.

Durkheim, in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, also notes that the collectivity represented by the sacred cannot be the same as dominant class interest (see 407–08). On the question of meaning, Gikandi’s analyses share with almost every other reading a preoccupation with the ‘crisis of meaning’ in the novel, what G. D. Killam in an early analysis called ‘the problem of knowing’ (60). Gikandi notes that Ezeulu’s ‘drive for monological meanings’ opposes the ‘plurality of perspectives insisted on by the novel and the authorial representation of the traditional Igbo system of Realising the Sacred 25 knowledge’ (Reading Chinua Achebe 57–9, my emphasis).

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On the Sacred in African Literature: Old Gods and New Worlds by M. Mathuray


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