African Oral Literature: Backgrounds, Character, and Continuity


"... its pages come alive with wonderful illustrative material coupled with sensitve and insightful commentary." —Reviews in Anthropology

"... the scope, breadth, and lucidity of this excellent study confirm that Okpewho is undoubtedly the most important authority writing on African oral literature right now... "Â —Research in African Literatures

"Truly a tour de force of individual scholarship... "Â —World Literature Today

"... excellent... " —African Affairs

"... a thorough synthesis of the main issues of oral literature criticism, as well as a grounding in experienced fieldwork, a wide-ranging theoretical base, and a clarity of argument rare among academics."Â —Multicultural Review

"This is a breathtakingly ambitious project... "Â —Harold Scheub

"... a definitive accounting of the evidence of living oral traditions in Africa today. Professor Okpewho's authority as an expert in this important new field is unrivaled." —Gregory Nagy

"Isidore Okpewho's ÂAfrican Oral Literature is a marvelous piece of scholarship and wide-ranging research. It presents the most comprehensive survey of the field of oral literature in Africa." —Emmanuel Obiechina

"... a tour de force of scholarship in which Okpewho casts his net across the African continent, searching for its verbal forms through voluminous recent writings and presents African oral literature in a new voice, proclaiming the literariness of African folklore." —Dan Ben-Amos

"This is an outstanding book by a scholar whose work has already influenced how African literature should be conceived.... Professor Okpewho is a scholar with a special talent to nurture scholarship in others. After this work, African literature will never be the same."Â —Mazisi Kunene

Isidore Okpewho, for many years Professor of English at the University of Ibadan, is one of the handful of African scholars who has facilitated the growth of African oral literature to its status today as a literary enterprise concerned with the artistic foundations of human culture. This comprehensive critical work firmly establishes oral literature as a landmark of high artistic achievement and situates it within the broader framework of contemporary African culture.


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The Study of African Oral Literature
The Oral Artist
The Oral Performance
Stylistic Qualities
Songs and Chants
Oral Narratives
Musical and Dramatic Forms
Oral Literature and Modern African Literature
Fieldwork and After
Suggested Further Work

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Om författaren (1992)

ISIDORE OKPEWHO, Chair of Afro-American Studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton, is author of The Epic in Africa and Myth in Africa and editor of The Heritage of African Poetry and The Oral Performance in Africa. He has also published two novels, The Victims and The Last Duty. He was for many years Professor of English at the University of Ibadan.

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