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Ben Okri, Chenjerai Hove, Dambudzo Marechera

mystical occurrences irrationally, even profligately, exhibit themselves, not only the nation as such but the violent and seductive dream of the nation is revealed as a key reagent, if not malign motive force, in recent neocolonial history. Okri favours invention – what he calls dreaming – over convention or tradition both in the composition of his fiction and in understanding the world.7 Breaking a dominant trend in African writing, his concern is to avoid handing down normative images of African national reality derived from the oral tradition or from the nationalist

in Stories of women
Crossing the (English) language barrier

disarray. (60) Disarray indeed. In this array, Deane, like many Irish authors, adopts a priestly tone, the high style, for first-person narrative. Like others too he laments the loss of Irish and upholds the idea of an oral tradition, yet still he opts in the end for a language that by and large uses an Irish accent only for comic effect or to represent speech. The narrative voice remains resolutely anglicised. Recently, one Irish critic, interviewing Patrick McCabe, asked why this anomaly arose between dialogue and narrative in Irish writing: ‘how is it that so many

in Across the margins

positive assertion of female otherness or as a form of protest, in that the perceived violence inflicted on the colonised economically and culturally is reciprocated linguistically – what Ketu H. Katrak, in describing the oral traditions of much post-colonial women’s writing, refers to as ‘effective tools of resistance against neocolonial tendencies and against women’s particular oppressions’.4 However, as this chapter argues, the protagonists of Belghoul’s, Kessas’s and Nini’s works also foreground the necessity of consciously assimilating the French language in both its

in Women’s writing in contemporary France
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Speaking of Ireland

of Finnegans Wake that [when] ALP-as-river joins the sea, something specific is lost in an oceanic chaos. As with her, so with Ireland. Both have entered the devil’s era of modernity, liberated into difference, lost to identity. This is not a simple transition. Joyce both celebrates and mourns it; his readers have so far tended only to join in the celebration (1995: 181). Taken together, the rising again of oral tradition out of ‘bookishness’ and the mourning of lost identity looks to be a reinstatement, through Joyce, of the forms of nationalism he himself

in Across the margins
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Writing home in recent Irish memoirs and autobiographies (John McGahern’s Memoir, Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People, Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark and John Walsh’s The Falling Angels)

Reading in the Dark evades any easy categorisation in terms of its narrative style. Its structure seems simple and obvious, with chapters and parts conforming to the written conventions of narrative, but its use of episodic tales and its colloquial, anecdotal technique owe much to the oral tradition of storytelling. The book consists of three parts, each containing two chapters, with each chapter subdivided into numerous short episodes. These episodes are precisely dated, from February 1945 to July 1971, creating the impression of a diary or journal, though in many ways

in Irish literature since 1990
The structures of migration in Tales from Firozsha Baag

traditions of oral narrative invoked here. Listeners have an active role to play in the storytelling circuit. As an oral narrator, Nariman relies on a close relationship with his listeners. They, in turn, participate to the full, prompting, enquiring, egging him on, interjecting exclamations at appropriate moments. The boys who surround Nariman and clamour for a story join in the ritualised dialogue which critics have seen as central to the oral tradition. In an essay on Mistry’s use of storytelling devices, Amin Malak has described what he sees as the distinctive features

in Rohinton Mistry

century. Just before the First World War, for example, a priest sneeringly remarked that every housemaid kept a planet book hidden under her pillow.32 Before moving on to Stephan Bachter’s survey of grimoires it is briefly worth considering the influence this burgeoning German magic media market had in America. This has a direct connection with the question concerning the relationship between print and orality in the transmission of folk magic. In the collections of various American folklore societies, we find traces of the oral traditions of German immigrant

in Beyond the witch trials
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A male strategy

a copy of the story was found amongst the belongings of a man tried before the Swedish Justitierevisionen or King’s Council on a charges of making a Devil’s pact in 1776.11 One of the intriguing aspects of the dissemination of these legends in Sweden is that there is little evidence of there having been any trade in Swedish language versions of the aforementioned chapbooks during the period. The earliest Faust chapbook in the collection of the National Library of Sweden is dated 1813.12 It would seem that the Faust legend found its way into Swedish oral tradition

in Beyond the witch trials
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Thomas of Erceldoune’s prophecy, Eleanor Hull’s Commentary on the penitential Psalms, and Thomas Norton’s Ordinal of alchemy

, ‘Lystyns, lordyngs, … I sall ȝow tell al strew a tale / Als euer was herde by nyghte or daye’, which shall include his telling of ‘Batells donne sythene many a ȝere; / And of batells ϸat done sall bee’.16 Such a conventional opening invites identification of the narrator as a poet providing a traditional oral performance of the work, whose written form includes those legacies of the oral tradition. This first-person becomes attributed to Thomas explicitly not many lines later: ‘Als I me went’, and sat under the tree, ‘I herde ϸe jaye … als I laye’.17 Thus the initial ‘I

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England