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Magical Realism: "Arme Miraculeuse" for the African Novel?

Lydie Moudileno
Research in African Literatures
Vol. 37, No. 1, Textual Ownership in Francophone African Writing (Spring, 2006), pp. 28-41
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3821116
Page Count: 14
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Magical Realism: "Arme Miraculeuse" for the African Novel?
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Abstract

Congolese novelist Sony Labou Tansi has been widely celebrated as a leader in the revival of francophone African letters that took place in the 1980s. In the process, commentators have repeatedly insisted on affiliating him with the tradition of magical realism. Using his first novel, La vie et demie [Life and a Half], as a case study, this essay argues that this exclusive focus on magical realism at the expense of other, perhaps more significant, literary traditions (such as science fiction) constitutes a problematic misreading of the novel. Ultimately, this conceptualization of Tansi's literary output once again reduces the African writer to a conduit for endless reiterations of a reified irrationality-precisely the role that Labou Tansi, by introducing science fiction into his narrative, seeks to escape.

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