Approaches To The African Novel Essays In Analysis

Approaches To The African Novel Essays In Analysis-81
These contain narratives of various kinds (including stories about both animals and humans), historical texts, proverbs, riddles, vernacular texts describing local customs, sometimes additional vernacular compositions by the collector, and very occasionally songs or poems.

These contain narratives of various kinds (including stories about both animals and humans), historical texts, proverbs, riddles, vernacular texts describing local customs, sometimes additional vernacular compositions by the collector, and very occasionally songs or poems.

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Although at first some people refused to believe that tales of such striking similarity to European folk-stories and fairy-tales could really be indigenous to Africa, this similarity of content gradually became accepted.

By the end of the century, Chatelain could assert with confidence in his authoritative survey that many myths, characters, and incidents known elsewhere also occur in African narratives, and that African folklore is thus a ‘branch of one universal tree’.

Nevertheless, the very size of many of these collections, presenting a corpus of literature from a single people, often throws more light on the current literary conventions among a given people than all the odd bits and pieces which it became so fashionable to publish later.

And the linguistic and missionary motive was not always so narrow as to exclude all interest in the wider relevance of these collections.

There had been a few isolated efforts before then, notably Roger’s retelling of Wolof fables from Senegal (1828) and an increasing awareness of the written Arabic tradition.

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But until the mid-century there was no available evidence to refute the popular European image of Africa as totally without literary pretensions. African linguistic studies were emerging as a specialist and scholarly field, and this in turn led to a fuller appreciation of the interest and subtleties of African languages.Far more, too, has been published on this subject than is usually realized even by many of the students who have recently taken some interest in the subject.But because much of the detailed research this century has been carried out by individuals working in isolation or, at best, by various schools of researchers out of touch with the work of other groups, the subject as a whole has made little progress over the last generation or so, whether in consolidating what is already known, in criticizing some of the earlier limiting preconceptions, or in publicizing the results to date.A further stimulus was the general interest in comparative studies.This was revealed not only in linguistic work and in the comparative analysis of social and political institutions, but also in the field of literature: in the school of comparative mythology and in the impetus to collection arising from the publications of the Grimm brothers in Germany.Most include complete texts in the vernacular with a facing translation usually into English or German, and occasionally a commentary (most often linguistic).The main emphasis in these collections was, it is true, linguistic (or, in some cases, religio-educational, preoccupied with what it was thought fitting for children to know).The main motive of many of these linguistic studies was to aid the evangelization of Africa, and grammars, vocabularies, and collections of texts appeared by and for missionaries.There was close collaboration between linguists and missionaries, and many of the great collections of texts in the nineteenth century were a result of professional or amateur linguists working in full sympathy with the missionary movement and published under its auspices.It is vain to speculate on this question from mere anatomical facts, from peculiarities of the hair, or the colour of the skin: if it is of the mind.Now as the Grammar proves that Negro languages are capable of expressing human thoughts,—some of them, through their rich formal development, even with an astonishing precision—so specimens like the following ‘Native Literature’ show that the Negroes actually have thoughts to express, that they reflect and reason about things just as other men.

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