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Modernism, Postcolonialism, and GlobalismAnglophone Literature, 1950 to the Present$
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Richard Begam and Michael Valdez Moses

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199980963

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199980963.001.0001

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Reading Ngũgĩ Reading Conrad

Reading Ngũgĩ Reading Conrad

Modernism, Postcolonialism, and the Language Question

(p.55) 2 Reading Ngũgĩ Reading Conrad
Modernism, Postcolonialism, and Globalism

Mark Wollaeger

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers points of intersection between Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Joseph Conrad. By Ngũgĩ’s own account, his rewriting of Conrad’s Under Western Eyes (1911) as A Grain of Wheat (1967) triggered a crisis of audience that ultimately led him to abandon English for his native Gikuyu. To further complicate the question of influence, Wollaeger also examines the relationship between two works of nonfiction: Conrad’s A Personal Record (1912) and Ngũgĩ’s Decolonizing the Mind (1986). At the heart of Ngũgĩ’s attempt to fashion premodern tribalism into a utopian space are two problems that still animate critical discussion. What is the status of the local and the indigenous? Does attention to influence reinstate a center-periphery model in postcolonial criticism? This chapter shows the extent to which Conrad and Ngũgĩ both anticipate and generate theoretical models later used to articulate modernism and postcolonialism as fields of inquiry.

Keywords:   modernism, postcolonialism, influence, tribalism, indigenous, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Joseph Conrad

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