Rulers Against Writers, Writers Against Rulers The Failed Promise of the Public Sphere in Postcolonial Nigerian Fiction

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Abstract:

Various literary critics have dwelt on the nature, tenets, and trends of commitment in Nigerian literature. However, there is paucity of scholarly studies on the representation of the failed promise of the public sphere in postcolonial Nigerian fiction. This essay, therefore, examines the strategies and techniques of representing the emasculated hope of the public sphere in postcolonial Nigerian fiction, using the examples provided by Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah, Ben Okri's The Famished Road, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus. The methodology involves a close reading of the selected texts, using J├╝rgen Habermas' notion of the 'public sphere' as the theoretical framework. The essay reveals that the context of the texts (Nigeria) lacks such a 'public sphere', which is supposed to provide a liminal space among the private realm of civil society and the family, as well as the sphere of public authority. This is disclosed in the refusal of the characters to disregard “status altogether” (Habermas).

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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