“A Divine Madness: The Secret Language of Trauma in the Novels of Bessie Head and Calixthe Beyala” examines Head's A Question of Power and The Sun Hath Looked upon Me, by Beyala. In both novels, trauma serves as a metaphor for the disruption caused by gendered and/or racialized state violence, which results in alienation not only from larger social structures but, most pervasively, from the very self. This essay posits that the struggle of female protagonists against forms of physical and mental incursion, as manifested in their madness and violent behavior, creates spaces that force the reader to renegotiate the intersection of the personal and political as they are embodied in African women's lives. Modernistic narrative strategies play a key component in recreating the subjective reality of women on the verge, or in the midst, of psychic collapse. Simultaneously, these strategies allow other processes, including the textual violence that undermines the parameters of the Western novel and its misogynistic and racist discursive traditions, to occur.

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