, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 115–134 | Cite as

L’Effet roman dans les langues de l’Afrique quelques réflexions comparatistes

  • Alain Ricard


In 2006 Xavier Garnier and the present author published a collection of essays derived from a three years long monthly seminar held at the CNRS in Paris on the coming of the novel in the languages of Africa (L’effet roman, Paris 2006). They considered the situation in 27 different languages, analyzing it in details in 20 of them. In the present article the author reflects upon the conclusion and prospects of this comparative enterprise. Quite often the production of fiction is seen as a symbol of cultural achievement in a language: little is known about the texts themselves, their messages, their style. Thomas Mofolo is widely held to be the first novelist writing in an African language, but his first novel, Moeti oa Bochabela, has rarely been read in a political and historical perspective. It is the story of questions posed by the coming of Christianity to Africa and this was a truly revolutionary at that time (1907). While diglossia and bilingualism are the rule in Africa, literatures in African languages are too rarely analyzed along with literature in European languages. The perspectives offered by the political content of the concepts of polyphonia and dialogic consciousness, presented by Bakhtin, acutely aware himself of these dimensions, are not taken with their philological implications in Africa. The novel is a new genre in many European languages, too, and it corresponds with an era of national consciousness. In many African languages careful historical study allows us to reach the same conclusions despite the colonial control, and the recent (second half of the twentieth century) domination of European languages. The paper concludes by a plea for translation, and quotes the recent work of Ngugi wa Thiongo as a new and positive direction for African writers.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire LLACAN — Langage, Langues et Cultures d’Afrique NoireUMR 8135 du CNRSBordeauxFrance

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