The African Imagination: Literature in Africa and the Black Diaspora / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $17.34
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 70%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (12) from $17.34   
  • New (5) from $27.02   
  • Used (7) from $17.34   


This collection of essays from eminent scholar F. Abiola Irele provides a comprehensive formulation of what he calls an "African imagination" manifested in the oral traditions and modern literature of Africa and the Black Diaspora. The African Imagination includes Irele's probing critical readings of the works of Chinua Achebe, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Amadou Hampaté Bâ, and Ahmadou Kourouma, among others, as well as examinations of the growing presence of African writing in the global literary marketplace and the relationship between African intellectuals and the West. Taken as a whole, this volume makes a superb introduction to African literature and to the work of one of its leading interpreters.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195086195
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

1. The African Imagination
2. Orality, Literacy, and African Literature
3. African Letters: The Making of a Tradition
4. Dimensions of African Discourse
5. A Study in Ambiguity: Amadou Hampaté Bâ's The Fortunes of Wangrin
6. Narrative, History and the African Imagination: Amadou Kourouma's Monnè, outrages et défis
7. The Crisis of Cultural Memory in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
8. The Return of the Native: Edward Kamau Brathwaite's Masks
9. A National Voice: The Poetry and Plays of John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo
10. Parables of the African Condition: The New Realism in African Fiction

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)