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The Resemblance of Colonial Mimicry: A Revisionary Reading of Ngugi wa Thiong'o's "The River between"

Apollo O. Amoko
Research in African Literatures
Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring, 2005), pp. 34-50
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3821318
Page Count: 17
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The Resemblance of Colonial Mimicry: A Revisionary Reading of Ngugi wa Thiong'o's "The River between"
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Abstract

My essay attempts a revisionary reading of Ngugi wa Thiong'o's "The River Between." The first work by a leading African/postcolonial novelist, this novel has generally been read in terms of an "English aesthetic" that Ngugi would come explicitly and decisively to repudiate in his later writing, most notably "Petals of Blood" and "Devil on the Cross." Along with Ngugi's second novel, "Weep Not, Child, The River Between" is thought to display a certain simplicity, if not naivete, in terms of its aesthetic ideology. My argument is that critics have overlooked the depth and complexity of Ngugi's early fiction. Ngugi's apparent embrace of "Englishness" in his earliest fiction is riddled with ambivalence, ambiguity, and slippage. Undoubtedly, "The River Between" and "Weep Not, Child" draw on aesthetic models from Joseph Conrad, D. H. Lawrence, and Thomas Hughes. But these texts are colonial mimics that critique even as they seem to imitate.

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