© 2009

On the Sacred in African Literature

Old Gods and New Worlds

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Introduction

    1. Mark Mathuray
      Pages 1-17
  3. Directions

  4. Indirections

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 113-113
    2. Mark Mathuray
      Pages 137-161
  5. Conclusion: The Political as Tragic Effect

    1. Mark Mathuray
      Pages 162-171
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 172-205

About this book


This innovative book provides an original approach to the analysis of the representation of myth, ritual, and 'magic' in African literature. Emphasizing the ambivalent nature of the sacred, it advances work on the religious dimension of canonical African texts and attends to the persistence of pre-colonial cultures in postcolonial spaces.


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About the authors

MARK MATHURAY is at present a lecturer in the English Department of Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, where previously he held a Leverhulme Early Careers Research Fellowship. He studied and taught at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and received a PhD from Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge as a Gates Scholar. He has published various articles on religious discourses in African literature.

Bibliographic information


'Mathuray offers a new point of entry to debates on spirituality: his study seeks to introduce into the field of African literary criticism the concept of the 'sacred'. This is an innovative move, the aim of which is to offer alternative readings of the tired binaries of 'myth/history' and the accompanying literary dualism of 'realist/mythopoetic' fiction...Furthermore, by utilising the concept of the sacred as a working tool, Mathuray finds intriguing similarities between authors such as Achebe, Soyinka, Ngugi, Okri and Coetzee, authors who - according to 'secular' literary criticism - do not have anything in common as regards representations of political power and authority.' - Ileana Dimitriu, Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa

'Mathuray pursues this worthy and timely project methodologically through a close focus on five Anglophone African works, with supportive reference to others and a significant reliance on authorities from a variety of disciplines across the breadth of the humanities.' -Graham Pechey, Cultural Critique