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Tintinnabulation of Literary Theory


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255 Pages


There can never be literary growth in the contemporary world which is devoid of literary criticism, this is the backbone of literary theory. Literature is no longer a mere narration of stories, and prudent literary writers know that great literature is based on theoretical frameworks which give their works an edge in the intellectual world. In this book, Tintinnabulation of Literary Theory: Traversing Genres to Contemporary Experience, Andrew Nyongesa demonstrates how five theoretical frameworks, namely: Marxism, Feminism, Postcolonialism, Psychoanalysis and Stylistic are applied to genres of literature. The last chapter shows how theory has moved away from the lecture hall to real life experience. The book is a practical guide to university students and tutors of literature in their undying desire to embrace Literary Criticism.



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Published 23 September 2018
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demonstrates how Ive theoretical frameworks, namely: Marxism, Feminism,
lecture hall to real life experience. The book is a practical guide to university
postcolonial literatures hence the focus of his scholarly works. He holds Masters of Arts (Literature) from Kenyatta University and is pursuing PhD in the same Ield.
TINTINNABULATION of LITERARY THEORY: Traversing Genres to Contemporary Experience
Andrew Nyongesa
Andrew Nyongesa
Mwanaka Media and Publishing Pvt Ltd, Chitungwiza Zimbabwe * Creativity, Wisdom and Beauty
Publisher: Mmap Mwanaka Media and Publishing Pvt Ltd 24 Svosve Road, Zengeza 1 Chitungwiza Zimbabwe mwanaka@yahoo.comhttps//mwanakamediaandpublishing.weebly.com Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective orders@africanbookscollective.comwww.africanbookscollective.comISBN: 978-0-7974-96439 EAN: 9780797496439 © Andrew Nyongesa 2018 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying and recording, or be stored in any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views ofMmap.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I wish to thank Dr. Murimi Gaita for his insightful lectures of theory in literature. I also appreciate Dr Wallace Mbugua for his emphasis on the importance of literary theory in literary criticism. I am indebted to Dr Justus Makokha for his wonderful exposition of feminism and exceptional mentorship. I will not forget Dr Kaigai Kimani for teaching me the nexus between postcolonial criticism and migration. Finally, I am grateful to Professor John Mugubi for his insightful exposition of stylistics and its essential role in literature.
Table of Contents Introduction…………………………………………………………v Chapter 1: ASPECTS OF LITERARY THEORY ………………….1 Chapter 2: MARXISTST THEORY ………………………………..4 Chapter 3: FEMINIST THEORY…………………………………30 Chapter 4: POSTCOLONIAL CRITICISM………………………..59 Chapter 5: PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY………………….......133 Chapter 6: STYSTICS- THE MAGIC WAND …………………...172 Chapter 7: PHILOSOPHY AND CONTEMPORATY AFRICAN EXPERIENCE …………………………………………………..200
Introduction The recent past has seen the emergence of literary theory in literary criticism the world over. Literary critics in universities use philosophical ideas to analyse novels and plays to bolster knowledge of literature. Literary writers, particularly, novelists and playwrights base their works on philosophical canons that crown them great literatures. All these efforts are appreciable as they have drawn the study of literature away from the dreary of formalism where critics would only analyse plot, character, themes and style in a work of art. However, it is evident that the application of literary theory to oral literature (folklore) and contemporary African experiences is scarce. In his essay, “What Philosophy can do Africa,” Kwasi Wiredu observes that proponents of theory have ideas that can benefit the African continent and it is therefore imprudent to relegate philosophical ideas to the analysis of texts in journals. Besides applying theories on oral literature, the author in this book interrogates the benefits of philosophical ideas to the African society. How best can Africa apply feminist ideas for her own good? How can Africa employ Bhabha’s hybridity and Fanon’s nationalism? If independent African leaders applied Fanon ideas, would Africa be as it is? Should politics be a preserve of political scientists when social scientists have mastery of the hearts and minds of the people? It is time to take literary theory away from the confines of the academic journal and apply it to day to day life likeMwalimuJulius Nyerere.
CHAPTER ONE: ASPECTS OF LITERARY THEORY iterary theory is the systematic study of literature; it is  tLatheory and feminism to works of literature. Literary application of established canons like Marxism, post-colonialism, new historicism, psychoanalysis, travel theory, r uma theory is a subset of literary criticism. Modern literary criticism is influenced by theory. Theory is concerned with the commonality between different proponents. All proponents of post colonialism for instance will focus on the struggle of the marginal group to upset the dominant group. From Edward Said, Frantz Fanon through to Homi Bhabha, they strive to destroy the narrative of the dominant group. Theory has a number of aspects: first, it is speculative. The explanations that proponents of theory do offer cannot be verified to determine their truth or falsity. The feminists’ claim that the position of women as endangered the world over cannot be attested to a few works of art from some communities because people are not homogeneous. There are many a community in the world with matriarchal systems and women lord it over men. Moreover, literary theory has a certain level of complexity that makes it tough to grasp. Jacquine Lacan’sThe Mirror Stagea typical example of this. Lacan’s is infant (Cited from Rafey Habib), starts as something inseparable from its mother because it has no sense of self or individualized identity (7). When the baby looks at the mirror, it is able to recognize its image. It sees it as the ideal image; a complete form of the object (baby) and conceptualizes it as the other. The baby is now capable of distinguishing theIfrom theother, which is estrangement from oneself
and the mother who is the Other. The child is now henceforth able to grow up as an independent subject. How will critic apply this complicated theory to literature? The intellectual complexity is quite evident. Literary theory is multidisciplinary because most ideas stem from fields outside literature. Marxism emanates from the political and economic fields of knowledge; psychoanalysis is a branch of psychology, postcolonialism is quite political while feminism is both sociological and political. Literary theory is practical. When literary critics and writers espouse theory, they think differently about issues that affect society. Theory brings common sense notions under detailed scrutiny. Under this aspect, we may define literary theory as a pugnacious critique of common sense notions. Michel Foucault, for instance, disputes definition of madness as violation of rationality or mental illness. Foucault observes that the European society imprisoned “poor vagabonds, criminals and the unemployed” (7) in the pretext that they were deranged minds. Anyone who behaved in manner that did not conform to the morals of society; anyone who looked miserable was undesirable and viewed as mad. Moreover, literary theory is analytical as it breaks a concept clearly and highlights all its aspects. According to Sigmund Freud, writing is a mental illness which enables the writer to express his or her forbidden wishes. In his workInterpretation of Dreams,Freud observed that there is a tight relationship between the creative action and the artist and the neuroses and the role of the unconscious in the artistic creation must be determined. There is a close relationship between the artist and dreaming and for that reason, the artist is sort of mentally ill. Nawal El Saadawi’s wicked desire to kill all oppressive men is concealed in Zakeya’s decision to take a hoe and kill the Mayor inDies by the God Nile. For Rousseau, writing gives the writer the ability to conceal the
self or inner reality because the signs used by the writer are not transparent. Literary theory is reflexive as it encourages critics to think deeply about subjects. Proponents of stylistics grapple with what really is literature as opposed to language. Wales K. (2001) defines stylistics as the study of literary style. He notes that the main aim of stylistics is not just description of the formal features of a text but “to show the functional significance for the interpretation of a text” (437). Wales therefore suggests that literary writers use style to express their subjects and themes. Literary language is therefore much different from language as it contains fragrant violation of linguistic norms. Literature is a speech act or textual event that elicits a certain kind of attention. It is aesthetic, and for Kant E. (1892), the aesthetic value has a purposiveness without a purpose,” [12]. Kant possibly means that the end result of a work of art is nothing but art itself. REFERENCES Focault M. (1961).and Civilization. Madness Roultedge London. Classics. Freud, S. (1900).The Interpretation of Dreams.London: Horgand. Habib, M. (2008).Modern Literacy Criticism and Theory: A History.USA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Wales, K (2001).A Dictionary of Stylistics.Harlow: Longman. Kant E. (1951).Crtitique of Judgement. Trans. J. H Benard. New York. Hafner Publishing.
CHAPTER TWO: MARXIST THEORY 2.1 Introduction ne of the oldest theories that have shaped the history the frostyOrelationships that exists between Russia and China on one of the world is Marxism. Many Western nations and world religions dreaded Marxism in the nineties, and hand and the West on the other stems from implementation of Marxism in former nations. Marxism challenged religion and existing political systems thereby causing world tensions. Historians believe that the failure of Britain and France to stop the rise of Nazzism was deliberate because they saw Hitler as a solution to Marxism. France and Britain wanted Adolf Hitler to destroy Russia and eradicate communism. Walsh B. (2008) writes: Stalin had been very worried about the German threat to Soviet Union ever since Hitler came to power in 1933. Hitler had openly stated his interest in conquering Russian land. He had denounced communism and imprisoned and killed communists in Germany. Even so, Stalin could not reach any kind of lasting agreement with Britain and France.[ …] indeed some in Britain seemed even to welcome a stronger Germany as a force to fight communism. (271) These are Stalin’s suspicions that laid the foundation to the Cold War after 1945. For Marx, Communism is the praxis of socialism where a classless society is formed after a socialist revolution. Although Marx observed that communism is the end-product of