Postcolonial Literature and the Impact of Literacy: Reading by Neil ten Kortenaar

By Neil ten Kortenaar

Reading pictures of literacy in African and West Indian novels, Neil ten Kortenaar seems to be at how postcolonial authors have considered the act of writing itself. Writing arrived in lots of elements of Africa as a part of colonization within the 20th century, and with it an entire global of book-learning and paper-pushing; of college and paperwork; newspapers, textbooks and letters; candles, storm lamps and electrical energy; pens, paper, typewriters and revealed kind; and orthography built for previously oral languages. Writing in basic terms penetrated many layers of West Indian society within the comparable period. the diversity of writers is extensive, and comprises Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and V. S. Naipaul. The chapters depend upon shut examining of canonical novels, yet speak about normal topics and traits in African and Caribbean literature. Ten Kortenaar's delicate and penetrating therapy of those issues makes this an incredible contribution to the starting to be box of postcolonial literary stories.

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100 T h e roa d t h roug h t h e j u ng l e Unlike the missionaries who translate the Bible into African vernaculars and thereby transform those languages, the colonial administration works with English. They write an objective and rational language intended to serve bureaucratic needs and to generate scientific knowledge of the world. This standardized language permits travel across distances and therefore acts as a vehicular language. The vehicle that is English travels on the road that is literacy.

68 The words that we see Oduche reading from the book are not simple transcriptions of things spoken but radically denatured. The graphic marks read by Oduche (and by readers of the novel) refer to no referent apart from sound, and even that, given the tonal nature of Igbo, they do very imperfectly. Without context and without tonal markings, the letters before the reader could represent any number of words that an Igbo-speaker would hear not as homonyms but as words pronounced utterly differently depending on whether the tone of a syllable was high, medium, low, rising, or falling.

But, as we have seen, all cultures produce texts. Marxists and cultural studies theorists solve this confusion by refusing the hierarchies implied by the notions of ‘literature’ and ‘high culture’ and treating all verbal discourse as the same. Their work is invaluable for understanding how meaning is created, negotiated, subverted, and resisted. My study, however, does not consider the texts discussed here as physical objects or consumer goods, nor do I survey reading habits and critical reception.

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