In the opening pages of The African Novel of Ideas, Jeanne-Marie Jackson muses on the life of the Fante intellectual David Eyiku Awotwi: a life filled with cosmopolitan affiliations, travel, political activism, social engagement, and responsibilities—but also with hours of solitary study and meditative walks around the streets of Accra. The first part of this equation—the communal commitments—is the stock-in-trade of studies of African writing. Yet it is all too easy when discussing African figures, Jackson suggests, to forget the second part of the equation: the commitment to individuality and the private life of the mind. The African Novel of Ideas can be considered an extended elaboration of this insight. Its central claim goes something like this. Contemporary debates on African literature view it as either (I schematize here): (1) a concrete rebuke to the universalizing pretensions of the West (postcolonial studies); (2) an illustration of the “combined and...
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Book Review| March 01 2023
The African Novel of Ideas: Philosophy and Individualism in the Age of Global Writing
The African Novel of Ideas: Philosophy and Individualism in the Age of Global Writing, by Jeanne-Marie Jackson.
Princeton University Press,
Comparative Literature (2023) 75 (1): 129–132.
Timothy Wright; The African Novel of Ideas: Philosophy and Individualism in the Age of Global Writing. Comparative Literature 1 March 2023; 75 (1): 129–132. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-10160706
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