And the Birds Began to Sing

Cross/Cultures

Book 23
Rodopi
Free sample

Taking as its starting-point the ambiguous heritage left by the British Empire to its former colonies, dominions and possessions, And the Birds Began to Sing marks a new departure in the interdisciplinary study of religion and literature. Gathered under the rubric Christianity and Colonialism, essays on Brian Moore. Timothy Findley, Margaret Atwood and Marian Engel, Thomas King, Les A. Murray, David Malouf, Mudrooroo and Philip McLaren, R.A.K. Mason, Maurice Gee, Keri Hulme, Epeli Hau'ofa, J.M. Coetzee, Christopher Okigbo, Chinua Achebe, Amos Tutuola and Ngugi wa Thiong'o explore literary portrayals of the effects of British Christianity upon settler and native cultures in Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, and the Africas. These essays share a sense of the dominant presence of Christianity as an inherited system of religious thought and practice to be adapted to changing post-colonial conditions or to be resisted as the lingering ideology of colonial times. In the second section of the collection, Empire and World Religions, essays on Paule Marshall and George Lamming, Jean Rhys, Olive Senior and Caribbean poetry, V.S. Naipaul, Anita Desai, Kamala Markandaya, and Bharati Mukherjee interrogate literature exploring relations between the scions of British imperialism and religious traditions other than Christianity. Expressly concerned with literary embodiments of belief-systems in post-colonial cultures (particularly West African religions in the Caribbean and Hinduism on the Indian subcontinent), these essays also share a sense of Christianity as the pervasive presence of an ideological rhetoric among the economic, social and political dimensions of imperialism. In a polemical Afterword, the editor argues that modes of reading religion and literature in post-colonial cultures are characterised by a theodical preoccupation with a praxis of equity.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Rodopi
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Published on
Dec 31, 1996
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Pages
327
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ISBN
9789051839678
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The term 'recent' or 'new' covers novels and some short fiction published between 1980 and 1995, a period characterized by growing pessimism about the state of affairs in both East and West Africa. The section on South Africa deals more narrowly with the 1985-95 watershed marking the end of official apartheid and the beginning of reconstruction. The three sections aim at giving a coherent picture of the main directions in production, highlighting three main centres of interest, Nigeria, Kenya, and the Republic of South Africa, although some novelists from neighbouring countries are also considered (such as Kofi Awoonor from Ghana, Nuruddin Farah from Somalia, and M.G. Vassanji and Abdulrazak Gurnah from Tanzania).
The evaluations conducted in the three sections lead to the emergence of a number of common themes, in particular the writers' predilection for topicality, the role of the past, and the controversy over the idea of the nation. Central themes also include the role of women in fending for themselves, both in rural and in urban environments. A further major theme is the role of the past (the Nigerian civil war; the Mau Mau period in Kenya; the revisiting of slavery; the refurbishing of myth; the questioning of historical reconstructions). The preoccupation of the West, East, and South African novel with the idea and ideal of the 'nation' is explored, particularly in the context of migrancy, hybridity, and transculturalism characterizing the anglophone diaspora.
The volume is aimed at literary scholars and students and, more generally, readers of fiction seeking an introduction to contemporary literary developments in various parts of sub-Saharan anglophone Africa. No categorical distinction is drawn between 'popular' and 'high' literature. Though still selective and not intended as an exhaustive catalogue, the present survey covers a large number of titles. Rather than resorting to broad and ultimately somewhat abstract thematic categories, the contributors endeavour to keep control over this mass of material by applying a 'micro-thematic' taxonomy. This approach, well-tested in the tradition of literary studies within France, groups works analytically and evaluatively in terms of such categories as actional motifs, plot-frames, and sociologically relevant locations or topics, thereby enabling a clearer focus on the dynamics of preoccupation and tendency that form networks of affinity across the fiction produced in the period surveyed.
For more than two hundred years after William Shakespeare's death, no one doubted that he had written his plays. Since then, however, dozens of candidates have been proposed for the authorship of what is generally agreed to be the finest body of work by a writer in the English language. In this remarkable book, Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro explains when and why so many people began to question whether Shakespeare wrote his plays. Among the doubters have been such writers and thinkers as Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Mark Twain, and Helen Keller. It is a fascinating story, replete with forgeries, deception, false claimants, ciphers and codes, conspiracy theories—and a stunning failure to grasp the power of the imagination.

As Contested Will makes clear, much more than proper attribution of Shakespeare’s plays is at stake in this authorship controversy. Underlying the arguments over whether Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, or the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare’s plays are fundamental questions about literary genius, specifically about the relationship of life and art. Are the plays (and poems) of Shakespeare a sort of hidden autobiography? Do Hamlet, Macbeth, and the other great plays somehow reveal who wrote them?

Shapiro is the first Shakespeare scholar to examine the authorship controversy and its history in this way, explaining what it means, why it matters, and how it has persisted despite abundant evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to him. This is a brilliant historical investigation that will delight anyone interested in Shakespeare and the literary imagination.
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