Intellectual exchange among African creative writers is the subject of this highly innovative and wide-ranging look at several forms of intertextuality on the continent. Focusing on the issue of the availability of old canonical texts of African literature as a creative resource, this study throws light on how African authors adapt, reinterpret, and redeploy existing texts in the formulation of new ones. Contemporary African writers are taking advantage of and extending the resources available in the existing native literary tradition. But the field of inter-ethnic/trans-national African literary inter-textual studies is a novel one in itself as the theme of African writers' debt to Euro-American authors has been the critical commonplace in African literature. Detailing the echoes and reverberations the voices of the past have generated, and the distinctive uses to which the writers are putting one another's works, the book demonstrates that the influence of local stock is significant: it is pervasive and widespread, and manifests itself in ways both random and systematic, but it is a ubiquitous presence in the African literary imagination.
Ode Ogede —
Ode Ogede is professor in the Department of English and Mass Communication at North Carolina Central University.
Ogede, Ode. Intertextuality in contemporary African literature: looking inward. Lexington Books, 2011. 229p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780739164464; ISBN 9780739164488 e-book. Reviewed in 2012may CHOICE.
Ogede (North Carolina Central Univ.) revisits ideas he explored in previous books on Chinua Achebe and Ayi Kwei Armah--Achebe and the Politics of Representation (2001); Ayi Kwei Armah, Radical Iconoclast (CH, Jul'01, 38-6007)--and extends them by pairing these writers and others in order to study different kinds of literary influence. Though the relatively brief chapter on the thematic and stylistic affinities between Achebe's No Longer at Ease and Bessie Head's Maru is somewhat strained, chapters on Flora Nwapa's recasting of Cyprian Ekwensi's Jagua Nana in One Is Enough and on Okinba Launko's and Chimalum Nwankwo's appropriations of Christopher Okigbo's Labyrinths offer informed close readings, as Ogede brings to bear a formidable knowledge of the social, political, and historical forces at work during the periods in which these texts were written. In places, Ogede's fondness for oratory distracts attention from his call to shift from the prevailing emphasis on literary sway over African writers by Western texts to instead study the intertextual give-and-take between African writers themselves. Nonetheless, with the emergence of so many young African writers who are consciously acknowledging their debts to their literary forebears, this book is a timely reminder of an ongoing pan-African literary dialogue.
Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. -- K. Vincent, Acadia University