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The technique of the novel from French West Africa 1926 to 1969

Dick, Roland (1975) The technique of the novel from French West Africa 1926 to 1969. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94304) (KAR id:94304)

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The emergence of francophone literature in French West Africa over the last fifty years poses questions for the student of literature. How should he approach it? If he attempts to describe and evaluate it, in what terms should he do so? Is it to be thought of as a branch of African literature in French, or of French literature in Africa? The creative writing of the area has been mainly in the novel and in poetry; in considering, as this thesis does, the novel only, what is the relevance of Western novel criticism? Can one define a novel? Can one define a good novel? Such are the questions behind the title of this thesis, The Technique of the Novel from French West Africa, 1926 to 1969. The nature of the novel is notoriously difficult to state: nevertheless, insofar as the field under study has sought expression within a traditional novel form, that of telling the story of a life or of a situation, it becomes subject to the commonplace description of a novel in terms of characterisation, intrigue, milieu and prose style. These lines of approach are therefore used here. Representative and outstanding novels are considered as wholes in respect of the nature and role of these elements within the novels. It seems axiomatic that the life of a field of literature over a period of time lies in the inter-action of the processes of imitation and innovation. This process is considered within the two main sub-groups into which the field naturally falls, the biographical and the situational narrative. One powerful force in favour of imitation is the socio-political reality in which the educated young African stands. From the origin of this literature until Independence the colonial presence ?KA acted as an unavoidable irritant insisting that literature be externally orientated. Hence come the contemporaneity and similarity of so much of the field's thematic material, concerned to register protest or to preserve a disappearing image. The idea of a personal or of a universal literature has remained remote under the pressure of new social problems. Innovation has taken place to a limited extent within the stereotyped framework of the exploited African, as some authors offer the experience of a vicarious revanche unlikely in reality. In terms of external form, one author has experimented with a melange des genres, another derives his ideas from Kafka and in several the prose style stands as an important original component of the novel's effect. Variety is, however, largely provided by the many presentations of different kinds of milieu. The very few works which see man as universal, either predator or outsider or mortal, and seem to exist in their own right, set new standards for the field as it outgrows its autobiographical need and its cries of protest.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94304
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
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2022 13:14 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 13:14 UTC
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