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Title: Tradition and change in Ethiopian social and cultural life as reflected in Amharic fictional literature (ca. 1930-74)
Author: Molvaer, Reidulf Knut
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1978
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Abstract:
This thesis, based on the study of the fictional work of twelve well-known Ethiopian authors, describes Ethiopian social and cultural life in the period 1930-1974. It is divided into two parts, the first dealing with traditional culture, the second with recent changes in social life and with attitudes to these changes. Amharic literature deals mostly with life in the central highlands of Ethiopia. Part One starts with a description of the traditional classes and how they interrelate, both in situations of normal peaceful intercourse and in conflict. Next follows a section on common beliefs and principles of conduct in the country - a fairly long portion of the thesis, as religious and moral questions frequently come up in Amharic literature. Sickness and health are also looked upon from a metaphysical angle. Social life in a more limited local sense is treated next, with more stress on food and drink, and sex and marriage than on family life or village life, following the emphasis of Amharic literature. The life of women is also briefly discussed. Finally, a few remarks are made about national characteristics as Ethiopian authors see them. Part Two deals with change. After a discussion of internal and external influences for change, the different attitudes to present changes are outlined: some oppose or regret them, some think they happen too slowly, others try not to get involved. Then the actual changes in the social and cultural life are set out. These are seen partly as advances, partly as setbacks for the country. This part ends with a section on how Ethiopians regard the future of Ethiopia, and how authors want to influence the development of their country. The main conclusion is that Ethiopian writers are critical observers of society, supporting and opposing developments according to their moral stand.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.758751  DOI:
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