an international and interdisciplinary journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image
Volume 4, April 2007, ISSN 1552-5112
The Author Never Dies: Roland Barthes and the Postcolonial Project
Given the manner of his theoretical musing, Roland Barthes as an intellectual figure, in life, was thoroughly steeped in controversies, which is why in death, it is no surprise that the mention of his name in critical circles is no less subtended in contestations. Perhaps the intimation of the knowledge of his ideological eclecticism─ in the very nature of its mercurial extremism and contradiction─ accounts for this. One of such instances of controversies is found in his declaration on the place of the author in a literary text. This he brought to the fore in his 1968 essay titled “The Death of the Author”. For so many reasons, the essay remains one of the most sensational in the history of literary theorizing. Expectedly, his combination of a wide range of fields─ from psychoanalysis to linguistics to structuralism to deconstruction and Marxism (Graham Allen 2005: 72) ─ exerts a great deal of influence on the position he takes in the essay. In a quick and conscious seriatim, Barthes interrogates the figure of the author in a literary text and simultaneously inaugurates and executes the process of demonstrating his irrelevance to the text. The process of the author’s “death” begins when Barthes symbolically takes off on a note of analogy of castration, alluding to a story by Balzac. Subsequently, the discourse progresses with an ominous texture as the author passes through dreadful stages of “desacrilization” to “death” and finally “burial”. What follows on the part of Barthes is an indulgent flaunting of his felicity over the successful performance of an undertaker’s task which, following the burial of the author engenders a substitutional incarnation of a “scriptor” who however bears no pedigree of the author’s “expression”, but that of passive “scripting” only.
The above, which appears to be a smooth load-down of the essay, serves in a precursory sense to necessitate a consideration of the fundamental questions that are induced in this act of the murder and burial of the author. The issue at stake may not however be so much that of the act of the murder of the author and his replacement with a passive scriptor, as that of the implications of the act itself. To get to the root of this is to offer to examine the rationale behind the act as put forward by Barthes in the essay. In considering the rationale, key issues call for examination. For instance, the need to eliminate the figure of the author is informed by the perception that “writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin… [It] is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost” (p.1). But in an attempt to liberate the text from the perceived tyranny of the author he alludes to the fact that in ethnographic societies it takes a “mediator” or “shaman”, or “relator” to perform to the people and he dare not ascribe the genius to himself. The contradiction that is evident in such an alibi lies in the fact that even the most ethnographic of societies relates to the ingenuity of the mediator only through the knowledge of common origin of identity which no doubt binds them all. This is the more so if we take as crucially instructive the fact that origin is central to the Bakhtinian notion of social evaluation in which case historical actuality is the credible ground for the production of the unity between individual utterance and the attainment of fullness of meaning (Simon Dentith 1995:148).
Besides, by deposing that there should be a severance of the author’s antecedent relationship to the text, not only is meaning compromised in the view that “expression” must be replaced by “inscription”, there is also by implication a call for an erasure of “history”. This makes it possible for the act of writing a literary text to flow ceaselessly without any attachment of meaning. But more importantly, writing becomes an end in itself and an automatic one, for that matter. This is why the implication of the anti-language activism, which harks back to the vernacular of New Criticism and of which Barthes himself was centrally located (Philip Thody 1977: 93), remains that literature no longer has the capacity to transmit ideas, nor can it be trusted to bear meaning. For with the death of the author has also come the death of meaning.
The implication needs to be taken further for the purpose of the congeries of issues specifically raised by Barthes: “The fact is that …writing can no longer designate an operation of recording, notation, representation, depiction…” (p.2). It will suffice to focus on the centrality of “representation” to the concepts outlined. There is in the profession an outright rejection of a mimetic aesthetics. This must have been done in the spirit of the necessary conferment of free reading on the readership that is at liberty to consider what it reads as mere “performative act” without any other content [other] “than the act by which it is uttered”(p.2). The approach in its pervasiveness and as can be seen in the other works of Barthes, is what Roland Champagne (1984:33) refers to as “a consumer-oriented method of reading” that in the context of Barthes rhetoric is antithetical to mimesis. With Barthes, therefore, realism comes under critical scrutiny since what the writer claims to write is nothing but “a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centre of culture” (p.2). A sentiment of this kind accuses the text of a monotonous predictability. But more importantly, as Allen (73-74) argues further, by turning the text into a medium of “game” and game alone, the poststructuralist signification of deferred meaning sanctions a situation whereby the Barthesian proposition is a vignette of an endless “intertextual constructs” capable of generating anything but meaning. In the end we are left with signifiers as an end in themselves.
Also related to the above is Barthes’ call for an interdiction of “passions, humours, feelings, and impressions (p.3) , a mission expected of the incarnated scriptor in order that the mediatory functions of the critic can also be prevented. This way, it will be impossible to link any of the quadriga of “society, history, psyche and liberty” to the text.
What is paramount at this juncture and from the foregoing is the need to explore first, and introspectively, the grand contradiction that lies at the core of Barthes’ argument. A singular but thoroughly convincing illustration of this contradiction will be in order. Despite the frantic effort in his autobiography to dissuade readers from establishing a filiation between himself and the text, the book which he simply calls R.B. betrays all the contradictions that his theorizing on the death of the author conjures up. Specifically, in the autobiographical piece, he writes “I do not say: ‘I am going to describe myself’ but : ‘I am writing a text, and I call it R.B.’ I shift from imitation and entrust myself to nomination.” (Roland Barthes p.56). He goes further to deny the possibility of an actual self- referent in relation to the text. Although Paul Jay (1984: 175) tries to argue passionately in demonstration of Barthes’ success at preventing a connection between the autobiographical text and himself through an allusion to Barthes’ efforts to “halt”, “deflect” and “divide” the subject from its destiny”, this is far from convincing. The defence flies in the face of the reality that the autobiographical piece in question betrays all the elements of origin, passion, representation, history and other key concepts that define such artistic work and shows without efforts how the man, Roland Barthes, is central to whatever subject (or do we say “scripting?”) is created in it. What he terms “scription” may not be intended to bear meaning or origin as the case may be, but nobody is in doubt as to the volume it expresses especially when one considers the facilitatory role of the collage of his family members’ pictures and the supportive words written against them. This is despite the marginal significance he attempts to assign to photography in R.B.: that the pictures make an impression contrary to the author’s view is not in doubt (see R.B. p.73). If therefore there is any pragmatism to the autobiography with respect to the essay, it is only in the area of denial of reality. What is more, there is hardly a way any reader can be dissuaded from establishing a link between the “fragments” and the author. It is for this reason Mary Wiseman (1989:108) concludes that by so doing “Barthes plays havoc with the traditionally conceived relation between authors and self-conscious writings of the self by forging the question characteristic of such writings, namely ‘Who am I?’ and raising instead the pragmatically self-contradictory question ‘Am I’”.
a manner not unconnected with value judgment, Steve Unger and Betty McGraw
(1989:xix) declare that Barthes’ intellectual musing which went against the
grain of his time and as evident in the collection of his theoretical works
could be said to be significantly catalytic to the evolution of cultural
studies. However, one cannot but be critical of this claim especially as it has
to do with the postcolonial world of Asia and
One might turn squarely to Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Okri’s The Famished Road for further illustration of the significance authors still hold in the expression and understanding of the world they are not just bound to signify, but more importantly, express. Although both writers in the works under study have adopted the magical-realist mode, their commitment to the articulation of their respective historical consciousness as animated through the representation of the socio-political milieus of their representation cannot be lost on readers. In other words, even if the readers must be guided by the monastic injunction of Barthes and regard the narratives as a configuration of “games”, there is still for them, even at a subliminal level, an awareness to the contrary as the works do more than merely disport the them. The magical-realist narrative mode remains indeed shrouded in controversies; it betrays without being out of character, a radical eccentricism (Lois Zamora and Wendy Faris 2000:3), which to find some measure of indulgence, has been explained away as its unique hallmark of defocalization (Wendy Faris 2004: 43-44). More explicitly, there is an apparent tendency to remain mesmerized by the indeterminacy of the various angles─ in their blend of both realistic and fantastically animist moulds─ from which events are presented in this form of narrative. Besides, on account of its evolution, it is a radical narrative paradigm which stands to interrogate and reject at the same time the tyranny of unipolar realism of the West. But when considered against the backdrop of Barthes’ “The Death of the Author”, it becomes doubly dissident in the way it is adopted to apprehend the postcolonial world. However, despite its apparent disjunctiveness and fragmentation─ actuated by a continually distended interaction between the real and the fantastic─ which ordinarily ought to bear semblance to Barthes’ paradigm, the departure from such narratological sanction is evident in the concern for an ultimate reflection on the realities of the times. This is why it will be more appropriate to argue that Barthes has been more instrumental to the consolidation of a criticism which argues for and draws currency from a modernist notion whose advocacy is that of neutrality and autonomy of literature. Yet the appeal of such a position keels into entropy within the ambience of postcolonialism.
view is further bolstered by the fact that in the age of the celebration of the
growing influence of narratology on literary discourse, the fundamental
questions of postcolonialism are not compromised. Indeed, even when using such
modes as structuralism, postclassicism, postmodernism and psychoanalysis, the
thought of postcolonialism stands out in
the way the narratological cadences are regulated by the need to be crucially
sensitive to the “matters commonly, if not uncontroversially, associated with the postcolonial” (Gerald
Prince 2005: 373). In other words, whether in relation to the “rise and fall”
of narratology, or its “rise and rise” (
Monika Fludernik 2005: 36-37), postcolonial literary discourse is able to hold
its own in the way it remains abiding and unambiguous in the concern for the
depiction of its own world , and with respect to the outside world. It is the
more so with regard to the relations of power and the aftermath of colonial
experience. And taking the postcolonial in this context as centrally implicated
in the typology of the
need to reiterate that we in the
On this note of “feeling”, one begins with Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. Looking first at the narrative pattern which to Barthes should be the only and exclusive concern of criticism, it is not in doubt that Midnight’s Children is famous for sporadic digressions which complicate narration as apparently unrelated issues and events come into perspective. However for all its magical appeal, Aijaz Ahmad (1992:126) is quick to instruct that the aesthetic import of this can only be adequately gleaned when one acknowledges Rushdie’s indebtedness to “a generally non-Western, specifically Indian form of non-mimetic narration, derived, finally, from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and exemplifying, … the characteristically Indian penchant for obsessive digressions and the telling of an interminable tale”. It is therefore of the essence to argue that Rushdie may have conceived the idea of the text in England, the overwhelming narrative mode remains Indian and by dint of its adoption, one cannot but admit of the filiation between the author and his society.
question of social filiation between the author and history as well as all
other similar issues Barthes assays to deny becomes convincing as one
encounters the unambiguous socio-political consciousness which defines the text
from the opening page to the end. That is, it is by no stroke of serendipity
that the novel opens on a note of the birth of Saleem Sinai, the protagonist
whose birth also coincides with the political independence of
was born in the city of
argued by Slevon, it is just in
character that the “birth of Saleem should coincide with the independence of
India in order that there can be a foreshortening of history so that the time scheme
metaphorically contains the long process of colonization and its aftermath”
(Stephen Hart and Wen-Chin Ouyang 2005:8).
In a recent interview, Rushdie himself admits that the very nature of
the opening of the novel placed him on an enhancement springboard from which he
was able to explore the entire Indian socio-cultural, economic and political
This explains why despite the “foreshortening”, the narrative oscillates
between the colonial and postcolonial configuration of
dissident awareness against this partition explains to a large extent why
events occur freely across borders from
this kind of long history of diverse and coerced colonial occupation coupled
with internal religious scuttles, it is just logical that the foundations upon
which the newly independent nation will be laid are fundamentally flawed. As
postcolonial events unfold, it is understandable why the séance of 1001
children born within the first hour of
I see: the city, basking like a bloodsucker lizard in the summer heat. Our
wonder then that as the novel progresses, it is not hard to see how the undue
attention given to
observed earlier, because Saleem sees the partition of
Regarding Midnight’s Children, therefore, although the narrative pattern may have involved much of “panting, ranting and wrangling on” in space and time (Steve Connor 2005: 64) and Saleem may be “ the most unreliable of narrators” (Jones 260) because of the adoption of the magical-realist mode, the novel nonetheless is unambiguous about the primacy of history. The establishment of this fact demands that the filiation of the author to his Indian history is not denied.
Like Midnight’s Children, The Famished Road gets across through a child-narrator called Azaro. His persuasive magical disposition is not in doubt. One is continually impugned by his various accounts of events and incidents which testify about the overlap and interplay of the natural and the supernatural worlds. The first instance of this is the delicate but consistent weaving of a long narrative around the metaphor of a mysterious road that assumes significance in the various possibilities of interpretation the text has to offer. This is why: “In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and branched out to the world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry” (p.3). Just as the road is stunning in the context of the narrative, so are the various personages who, we are told, metamorphose from humans to spirits and vice versa like in the case of Azaro himself, his father, Dad and Madame Koto, to mention but three (see pp.199 and 139). Azaro is a classic expose of this mercurial corporeality:
When I was very young I had a clear memory of life stretching to other lives…Sometimes I seemed to be living several lives at once (7) One night I was standing in the street with Mum when a voice said: ‘Cross over’. (9)
Apart from the overwhelming magical inclination of the narrative, its adoption of the episodic format appears to be an attempt to occlude the possibility of connection between events as related in the work. However, Ato Quayson (1997: 131) is quick to instruct that:
The Famished Road’s a-historical narrative structure, the events are supposed to
take place within a specific historical setting, indeterminable though it often
seems to be. It is that of
We are therefore constrained to recognize the historical filiation between the narrative events and the Nigerian context of their suggestiveness. What is more, the authorial interpolation superimposed upon by Azaro’s narrative voice remains sympathetic to this view as “Our country is an abiku country. Like the spirit-child, it keeps coming and going (p.478).
So the narrative, emerging from the initial cloak of its magical spoof, places us face-to-face and squarely with the realities of a nation encumbered with the burden of becoming. This is amidst a plethora of socio-political challenges which impinges ultimately on the well-being of individuals and other forms of collective institutions. The earliest instance of this is seen in the night-fire in which an entire compound is caught. It is significant to note that this incident in which Azaro’s parents are involved as victims of infernal dispossession marks the beginning of change in fortunes: “On that night our lives changed” (p.9).Curiously, there is a concurrent incident of riot in the same night. The beating that Azaro and his family receive in the hands of the police is an unmistakable indictment of the insensitivity of the state to the plight of the poor who appear perennially doomed to tumble from one form of calamity to another. The extent of state brutality is thus exposed as “Three policemen…fell on us and flogged us with whips and cracked our skulls with batons” (p.10).
The instance of violence is so prevalent that even when it is enmeshed in the magical, the import does not fail to register. When for instance, Azaro, the extraordinary choice for the depiction of a nation thoroughly riddled with both physical and spiritual degeneration (Eldred Jones 1998:3), goes into one of his ethereal and nocturnal “border crossings” from the realm of reality to the metaphysical, the interruption which ensues from the physical is significant. There is no gain saying the fact that there is a correlation between the explosion that occurs all through Azaro’s body while attempting to master the art of escaping through the roof at night and the banging that comes on the door of their house. This time it is the photographer who has been caught in the crossfire of street fighting:
And when I gained myself I heard, for a moment, the rats chewing, my parents snoring, and someone banging relentlessly on the door…The photographer …was bleeding from the head. He sat on my mat, blood dripping down his forehead, past his eyes, and soaking his yellow shirt. (p.188-89)
Beside the predicament of an individual like the photographer, a whole community can be implicated in the dispossessing powers of violence as seen in the literal and collective dream of the people. Additionally, the said violence goes hand in hand with poverty. This manifests in different shades and forms in the novel. The spill-over effect of poverty can be seen in the ubiquitous presence of mad men whose description by Azaro conjures up images of extreme penury and neglect. Also related to this role is the overwhelming presence of the disabled, the significance of which goes beyond their actual presence to mean a reminder of the deformity done to contemporary Africa through its colonial antecedent (Quayson 2002:228).
But, it is to Azaro’s family one must turn to be able to assess more profoundly the impact of poverty on the society. It will suffice to concentrate on Azaro’s Dad who is sometimes referred to as the giant, or titan because of his impressive physical build and strong will against all forms of dispossession and oppression. However, his strong will is painfully undermined by the forces opposed to his aspirations. At one moment these forces are symbolically depicted as a physical load which weighs him down:
He went on staggering, balancing the weights and slipping and miraculously regaining his footage, grunting and sweating, uttering the words ‘MORE! MORE!’ under his breath, and when he went past me I noticed that his eyes were almost normal under the crush, and his muscles tremble uncontrollably, and he groaned so deeply, and he gave off such an unhealthy smell of sweat and oppression that I suddenly burst into tears. (p.146)
Such suffering of an individual which is analogous to the suffering of the nation naturally induces curiosity as to its causes. This is where comes in the indictment of the political class that musters all its resources, contrary to expectations, towards the consolidation of poverty. To this class, leveraging the condition of the masses is the last thing on its agenda. It explains why the Party of the Rich, symbolic of the leadership, through collusion with the land lord of the compound, attempts poisoning the masses through its distribution of free milk in hope of election favours from the poor (p.132). The oppressive political class finds it easy to operate because of the readiness of some members of the suffering masses to call it quits once there is an opportunity to get to the top through exceptionable means. The desperation to escape the pains of poverty through any means thus becomes the primary motivation for the compromise of Madam Koto as she joins the Rich People’s Party and becomes a byword for oppression. Her magical powers are used in a stunning way to increase business turn-over; and because of the questionable way this is achieved, she becomes an embodiment of a corruptible and corrupting political and ruling class. The capacity of this class to set the nation adrift is a consistent source of worry in the novel. This is why despite the contemplation concerning the prospects of “economic boom” towards the end of the novel, Azaro still has a premonition about an “orgiastic squander” that will ultimately result in “the exile to strange lands” (p.492).
overwhelming negative influence and triumph of this class is also known to have
been exponentially enhanced by various forces of western capitalism. This way
one finds collaboration between leaders of western allies and the internal
political leadership where the masses are determined to bring about a positive
change to their existence. Towards the close of the novel Azaro observes
concerning the fight between the spirits: “The party of the Rich drew support
from the spirits of the Western World” (p.495). This goes to justify the
implication of the West in the increase in the impoverishment of
Therefore, whether in the peculiar fascination with aesthetic/structural analysis, or the historical consciousness of a literary text in the postcolonial world, such tutelary efforts as Barthes’ which recommend an interdiction of the filiations of the author to history and all the other considerations its mention suggests, cannot hold water. The sheer zest with which Barthes pursues his conviction to a proselytizing conclusion may indeed have a fascinating appeal, but such attraction can only be for the nonce. This is why his emasculatory analogy and the eventual murder of the author can only bring about an excitement of fleeting values like the one that must have overwhelmed the Widow in Midnight’s Children after a perceived success at the ectomy of the surviving midnight’s children. The anticipated end to their “fearsome conspiracy” is a ruse after all, since with Major Shiva, “a new generation of children, begotten by midnight’s darkest child, was [and is still] being raised toward the future” (Midnight’s Children, p.425). The place of the author in literary analysis will thus remain inalienable just as history, even when suffussed in dreams, as seen in the two novels, will remain tied to literature. To aver to the contrary in the postcolonial world is to strip literature of its human pivot and by implication its signage of credibility, which is why authors will always remain alive and kicking.
an international and interdisciplinary journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image
Volume 4, April 2007, ISSN 1552-5112
Titi. “Ken Saro-Wiwa: Poetic Craft, Prophetic Calling”, Before I am Hanged: Ken
Saro-Wiwa: Literature, Politics and Dissent. (Ed.) Onookome Okome.
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Graham. Intertexuality: The New Critical
Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author”, http://faculty.smu.edu/dfoster/theory/Barthes.htm
Roland. Literary History in the Wake of
Roland Barthes: Re-Defining the Myths of
Steven “Postmodernism and Literature”. Steve Connor (ed.). The
Simon. Bakhtinian Thought: An
Wendy. Ordinary Enchantments: Magical
Realism and the Remystification of Narrative.
Monika. “Histories of Narrative Theory II: From Structuralism to the Present”, A Companion to Narrative Theory. (Eds) James
Phelan and Peter Rabinowitz.
Stephen and Ouyang, wen-Chin. “Introduction: Globalization of Magical Realism:
New Politics of Aesthetics”, A Companion
to Magical Realism. (Eds) Stephen Hart and wen-Chin Ouyang.
Richard. “The Folly of Maps and Modernity”, Andrew Gordon and Bernhard Klein
(eds.), Literature, Mapping and the
Politics of Space in Early Modern
Paul. Being in the Text:
Self-Representation from Wordsworth to Roland Barthes.
Jones, Eldred. “Childhood Before and after Birth”, African Literature Today. 21, (1998), 1-8.
Stephanie. “Of Numerology and Butterflies: Magical Realism in Salman Rushdie’s
The Satanic Verses”, A Companion to
Magical Realism. (Eds) Stephen Hart and wen-Chin Ouyang.
Geeta “When Was Modernism in Indian Art?” Over
There: International Perspectives in
Art and Culture. (Eds) Gerardo Mosquera and Jean Fisher.
Ben. The Famished Road.
Prince, Gerald. “On a Postcolonial Narratology”, A Companion to Narrative
Ato. “Looking Awry: Tropes of Disability in Postcolnial Writing”, Relocationg Postcolnialism. (Eds) David
Theo Goldberg and Ato Quayson.
─── Strategic Transformations in Nigerian Literature.
Salman. Midnight’s Children.
Wole “King Baabu and the Renaissance Vision”. John Conteh-Morgan and Tejumola
Olaniyan (eds.). African Drama and
Gayatri “How to Read a ‘Culturally Different’ Book”, Colonial Discourse/Postcolonial Theory. (Eds) Francis Barker, et
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Philip Roland Barthes: A Conservative
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Barthes Today. (Eds) Steven Ungar and Betty McGraw.
Mary. The Ecstasies of Roland Barthes.
 To buttress this, it is necessary to cite Philip Thody’ Roland Barthes: A Conservative Estimate ( London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1977) as one critical text in which a considerable part revolves around the various instances of controversies that defined Barthes’ intellectual life. This straddled fields as wide as theatre and theatre practice to politics and to a severe clash of ideological rhetoric, the most memorable of which was his quarrel with Raymond Picard in the 1960s. If, however, there was anything that united all these instances of clashes, it was Barthes’ pontification to the end that it is “wrong to see words [whether on the stage from the mouth of an actor or actress, or from a writer on the pages of his book] as translating a meaning which is hidden so deep inside the text that every effort must be made to bring it into clear light of day” (p.56). The essential, if not exclusive concern, was the medium and not the content.
 Even at this point, it must be admitted that his position remains one that finds no place for the author, not only of a literary text, but of any other text. According to Andrew Brown in Roland Barthes: The Figures of Writing (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992, p.50), this may as well be explained in terms of Barthes’ “drift from Utopia to utopia, from any topos (any geographical or rhetorical place) that is affirmed as eu-topos (a good place), to a loss of topoi (and thus the loss of such identities as meanings).”
 All references are to “The Death of the Author” as sourced from http://faculty.smu.edu/dfoster/theory/Barthes.htm
 Talking about passion and feeling as implied in the concept of emotion, Jacques Depelchin in a recent publication, Silences in African History: Between the Syndromes of Discovery and Abolition (Dar Es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, 2005), considers the facts of academic history as inadequate to address Africa’s postcolonial condition, which is why he argues that it is to literature we must turn in the assessment of the full import of colonialism. This is so because it is in postcolonial literature as against postcolonial historical scholarship that one finds a true re-invention and evocation of the emotional angle of postcolonial conditions so much so that it gets across as truly representative of history. Put differently, he is of the opinion that so long as such historical accounts are to the end of eliding the human and emotional dimension of the history of imperialism, especially with respect to the oppressed, then it is to literature we must turn to see the true picture of things (p.147-174). It goes without saying that postcolonial literatures will not fail to live up to this expectation.
 All references are to Midnight’s Children (London: Jonathan Cape, 1982).
 See Jack Livings, “Salman Rushdie: The Art of
Fiction” (no. 186). The
 Regarding the divisive antecedent of religion
 Nossiter goes further (pp.2-3) to cite Karl Marx’s assessment of Indian nation as one whose historical passivity is evident in the long list of colonial masters she once had: from Turkish rule to Persian to Russian before the British.
 By the very coincidence of Rushdie’s birth
 An abiku in the West African myth is a spirit child that dies before attaining adulthood because of an abnormal disposition towards inhabiting both the worlds of humans and spirits.
 Explaining away the preponderance of violence
in his works, Okri in an interview with Jane Wilkinson says: “… I’ve come to
realize you can’t write about