The Non-Literate Other. Readings of Illiteracy in Twentieth-Century
Novels in English
506 pp, 2007, $140 USD (Hardcover)
Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York
At the beginning of David Malouf’s novel, Remembering Babylon
(1993), two children from a family of colonial settlers happen to meet
a strange guy who tells them “Do not shoot. I am a b-b-British object”
(3). This is the impressive start of a narrative in which an adolescent
who escapes from England in mid-nineteenth century, arrives in
Australia, the land of “convicts,” and lives among the Aborigines for
sixteen years. After that period, his language sounds like a mixture of a
few aboriginal words and very poor English, and he represents a threat
to community life in the settler’s eyes. Malouf’s is a dazzling story
about racial hostility, newcomer fear and the impossibility of
acknowledging the “otherness” of Aboriginal culture, something that
certainly involves the problematic question of language.
Thus, it is not surprising to discover that the novel gave Helga
Ramsey-Kurz the inspiration for her illuminating and rich volume The
Non-Literate Other. Readings of Illiteracy in Twentieth-Century
Novels in English.
Read the full book review in Postcolonial Text, Vol 4, No 2 (2008)
Recently in African Literature Analysis Category
Reviewed by Federica Zullo.
A review by Alioune Sow of a recent book by Stephanie Newell, West African Literatures: Ways of Reading. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 288 pp. appeared in the online journal African Studies Quarterly. Here's an extract:
Its strength lies in its important insights into existing interpretations and readings of canonical texts, or debates, as well as in its innovative and persuasive arguments. Newell’s careful discussion of “Popular literatures” gives a much-needed illustration of how the literary dynamism is ensured by local productions that “generate new types of selfhood” and activate new modes of reception. In the same vein, her chapter on the new feminism, which focuses on Werewere Liking, Calixthe Beyala, and Véronique Tadjo, explores the rejection by the three writers of outdated linguistic and normative codes to open to new expressions of “the new subjectivities of African women.” Furthermore, Newell’s discussion includes neglected problematics in the commentary of African letters, such as translation (chap. 5). She also revisits and rejects old paradigms, such as the exclusionary relationship between “written and oral genres,” which has been contradicted, as Newell demonstrates, by the works of the vibrant Nigerian “AlterNative poets” (chap. 8). Her chapter on “Marxism and literature” opens a crucial domain in the study of the history of African literatures by focusing on the dynamic debates about the affinities and divergences that make the ideologies of African literatures (chap. 10).My fervent hope is that someday the village readers supported by FAVL are engaged themselves in the scholarly interpretations and debates captured in Newell's book.