The representation of African humanism in the narrative writings of Es'kia Mphahlele

Rafapa, Lesibana Jacobus (2005-12)

Thesis (DLitt (English))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


The introductory chapter of this thesis – in which I place Mphahlele's works within the Afrocentric, postcolonial theoretical context within which he wrote – consists of three sections that explain the three different ways in which I contextualise my investigation of the ways in which Mphahlele represents his concept of African humanism in his narrative writings. In section 1.1 I detail the historical background and context within which Mphahlele's philosophy of African humanism will be shown to have evolved, alongside my analysis of a selected few of his poems and all of his narrative writings, articulated in the main body of the thesis. I approach this introductory sketching of the historical context by tracing the development over time of antecedent concepts articulated by other writers, followed by a chronological tracing of the progressive, successive articulations of the idea of African humanism in Mphahlele’s own discursive writing . This is followed in section 1.2 by an outline of the theoretical notions or concepts from various sources by means of which the analysis is executed, some of which are Edward Said's notion of "the integrated vision", Fanon's idea of "national culture" and Bhabha's metonymic notion of "mimicry". Section 1.3 dwells on a description of the conceptual approach I use throughout the thesis – that of viewing literature as anchored in the empirical milieu constituting the referential framework of its subject matter. In this section I also highlight the analytical method of scrutinising Mphahlele's works from the sociolinguistic point of view that links dialogue and the symbols yielded by fiction to the local cultural orientation of the people for whom artefacts were composed. The organisation of the later chapters of this thesis according to literary genre is also explained and rationalised in section 1.3.

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