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Fictive States and the State of Fiction in Africa

Fictive States and the State of Fiction in Africa 1 Citations of Jameson’s piece are now invariably accompanied by citations of Aijaz Ahmad’s response. FICTIVE STATES AND AFRICA/229 Blooms at Night.2 Anonymous and pseudonymous African territories also figure prominently in European and American novels by Haggard, Céline, Waugh, Naipaul, Updike, Bellow, and Boyd. There is also a generic Latin America: for instance, the Costaguana of Conrad’s Nostromo. There are many reasons for imagining a fictive state, especially when writing about military dictatorships, but this essay is less concerned with motivation than with the potential for fictive substitution allowed by African states. Western narratives about Africa often imply that, while Europeans are defined by the nations they belong to, non-Europeans are defined by their race. African novels that feature anonymous or pseudonymous states also imply that the continent and the race (frequently treated as if coterminous) are more integral to identity than is the state. But when the anonymous state resembles the writer’s own, it cannot be a matter of indifference. Somewhat paradoxically, those African texts that feature anonymous and pseudonymous states are in fact most concerned with the state and its relations to civil society. I Franco Moretti asks, Why do novels so often mix real geographical http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Fictive States and the State of Fiction in Africa

Comparative Literature , Volume 52 (3) – Jan 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-52-3-228
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

1 Citations of Jameson’s piece are now invariably accompanied by citations of Aijaz Ahmad’s response. FICTIVE STATES AND AFRICA/229 Blooms at Night.2 Anonymous and pseudonymous African territories also figure prominently in European and American novels by Haggard, Céline, Waugh, Naipaul, Updike, Bellow, and Boyd. There is also a generic Latin America: for instance, the Costaguana of Conrad’s Nostromo. There are many reasons for imagining a fictive state, especially when writing about military dictatorships, but this essay is less concerned with motivation than with the potential for fictive substitution allowed by African states. Western narratives about Africa often imply that, while Europeans are defined by the nations they belong to, non-Europeans are defined by their race. African novels that feature anonymous or pseudonymous states also imply that the continent and the race (frequently treated as if coterminous) are more integral to identity than is the state. But when the anonymous state resembles the writer’s own, it cannot be a matter of indifference. Somewhat paradoxically, those African texts that feature anonymous and pseudonymous states are in fact most concerned with the state and its relations to civil society. I Franco Moretti asks, Why do novels so often mix real geographical

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2000

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