The Nigerian novel and indigenous culture : problems of communication
It is argued in this thesis that the Nigerian Novel is an attempt to transliterate traditional customs, beliefs and attitudes, the characters of myth and legends, a whole universe of ancestors, into an entirely new context of the twentieth century, employing a language to which the modern reader can respond. The work gives detailed consideration to the salient features of this attempt and assesses, with particular reference to the novels of Tutuola, Achebe, Aluko, Nzekwu, Amadi, Balewa, Egbuna, Adaora Ulasi, Nwankwo and Okara, what in each case is the atti tudeof the novelist to the indigenous culture of his country and how successfully the link between tradition and modern experience has been established. The approach adopted in the thesis is one of close analysis of texts in an attempt to find out how critically an author has presented those aspects of tradition he has selected for treatment and how skilfully he has dramatized the realities and dilemmas of the present. On each author answers are sought to a numer of searching questions. What are the particular values the writer is upholding or opposing, and what is his attitude to them? What particular emotional or intellectual effect does he hope to achieve, and does he succeed? If he does, by what methods of communication? If he fails, from what problems of communication has failure resulted, and what effect does this have on the reader? What sympathies are evoked, and how do we see a particular work in the body of works of a particular author? A writer's language is a mirror held up to his personality and his particular circumstances. It is through his use of language that he reflects his individual awareness of a given situation. The detailed study of language leads, almost inevitably, to a consideration of the more fundamental problems of communication. Even though all save one of the novelists to whom this thesis is devoted use English as their creative medium, they do so in the consciousness of the fact that they are presenting a Nigerian experience, and the best of them reveal in their works a specific mode of the imagination which derives from their Nigerian background. It has therefore been necessary in all cases to examine closely the use of language by each novelist and try to assess how effectively the artist has communicated. Because of the historical and cultural environment of the Nigerian novelist considerable interest is taken in the influence which the mother tongue (LI) has had on the writer's English (L2). The thesis concludes by identifying the essential requirements for the establishment of a successful link between tradition and modern life: an important theme, a consistent imaginative scheme, a language which recognizes the characteristics of LI and skill in the use of language. Only works in which many of these conditions are fulfilled as, for example, in the novels of Achebe, Amadi, Okara and Aluko achieve satisfactory results. The link between tradition and modern life is valuable only if it widens satisfyingly our experience of what it is to be human and thus contributes to the solution of the political and social problems of the present.