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Mythology and the African novel

Abdul Raheem, Sfruaibu Oba (1982) Mythology and the African novel. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94148) (KAR id:94148)


This thesis is essentially a 'second reading' of a selection of contemporary African novels of which mythology forms a significant but, in criticism, largely neglected feature. This negligence owes a great deal to the prevailing attitude that modern African fiction is more concerned with the depiction of and commentary on contemporary socio-political realities than with making aesthetic impacts; and that the presence of mythological materials is either ornamental (providing *atmosphere*) or symptomatic of atavistic indulgence.

Conversely, the present study seeks to show how certain African novelists have approached the myths and mythopoeic traditions in (as well as outside) their societies in terms of a mythic imagination, thereby sustaining the social and aesthetic concerns of the novel in a particularly African sense and milieu. The study is in five "Parts", the first of which looks at the general problem of ’myth—criticism*, and of myths in African fictions; as well as defining its own objectives. Each of the remaining four parts looks at two novels that illustrate particular perspectives on the structural and aesthetic functions of myths, as well as the creative engagement of the mythic and historical consciousness within the context of the contemporary experience in Africa.

Thus, "Part two” sees Awoonor's This Earth, 'Ay Brother and Soyinka*s The Interpreters from the perspective of the 'Search for a form', while "Part three" focuses on the 'search for community' in Soyinka’s Season of Anomy and Armah's Fragments. The fourth and fifth parts concentrate on relationships between myth, history and ideology in Armah's Two Thousand Seasons and Ouloguem’s Bound to Violence on the one land, and Ngugi's A Grain of Wheat and Petals of Blood on the other.

In conclusion therefore, we observe that these works, especially, have been largely misrepresented by the exclusivist tendencies of 'formalism' and 'socialist realism' as critical approaches to the contemporary African fictions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94148
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2023 08:49 UTC
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2023 11:43 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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