Achebe or Soyinka?: a study in contrasts

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Hans Zell Publishers, 1996 - History - 188 pages
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This is a controversial new study on Africa's two most widely read and, arguably, her finest writers. Despite their shared levels of prestige, each represents a distinct pole of Nigerian writing. On the one hand, there's Soyinka, the playful imagist steeped in the myth and magic of his native Yoruba culture; at the other end of the spectrum, Achebe's internalized Igbo cultural traditions.
Kole Omotoso - himself a prolific writer and prize-winning Nigerian novelist - explores and defines the differences in style, background, and vision between the two men. Individual chapters describe their childhood, their cultural influences, political involvement, their stand during the Nigerian civil war, their attitudes to the world at large, their contribution to the language debate in African literatures, and there is also a chapter devoted to Achebe's and Soyinka's responses to their critics.
The works of Achebe and Soyinka are considered against three main agendas: the pan-African agenda, the Nigerian nation-state agenda, and the ethnic national agenda. Despite their shared nationality, their contribution towards creating 'a community of sensibilities' in Nigeria is questioned by the author in terms of the instability that has bedevilled Nigeria and, by extension, other African countries.

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Contents

Living on the Seam of Two Worlds
1
The Nigerian Elite Achebe and Soyinka
13
Achebe Soyinka and the Gods
45
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Born in Akure, Nigeria, Kole Omotoso is one of the most visible and prolific of Africa's new generation of radical writers. His publications include two novels, The Combat (1972), which uses the Nigerian civil war as a backdrop, and The Edifice (1971), which concerns the marriage of an African student and an English woman, and a piece on recent Nigerian history, Just Before Dawn, which attracted much public attention because of threats of civil action against him for misrepresentations of the roles of some of the people in the account. Described by critics as a revolutionary writer, Omotoso is concerned with the political and social problems facing contemporary Africa. He therefore strives to write for the masses, using a simple and direct style. Many of his characters are contrived and predictable.

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