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Arrow of God: The Novel and the Problem of Modern Time

Author(s): Gikandi, Simon

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Abstract: Although Arrow of God appears to be set at the moment of the encounter between an African community and British colonial interests, its historical setting is imprecise and perhaps insignificant. What the novel signals constantly, however, is its preoccupation with the present and the difficulties Africans seem to encounter as they search for a vocabulary to explain and translate the time of decolonization—a historical event without determinate signs. The novel is set in a particular place—Umuaro—and it establishes what appears to be the semiotics of Igbo culture that is its immediate point of reference, but it does not seem to function within a historical framework in which the passage from one age to the next can be read either as a problem or possibility. Rather than present the problematic of colonialism and the act of colonization as the opposition between two temporalities—past and present—the novel is often bogged down in a present that it cannot name. I will argue that what makes Arrow of God stand out as a monumental postcolonial novel is its engagement with the temporality of a belated colonialism and its attention to the lives of subjects stranded in time as it were, produced in an interregnum, functioning in what Hannah Arendt once described as a "scission or rupture in what is no longer simply an after or a before."
Publication Date: 2018
Citation: Gikandi, Simon. "Arrow of God: The Novel and the Problem of Modern Time." Research in African Literatures 49, no. 4, no. 2 (2018): 1-13. doi:10.2979/reseafrilite.49.4.02.
DOI: doi:10.2979/reseafrilite.49.4.02
ISSN: 0034-5210
EISSN: 1527-2044
Pages: 1 - 13
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Research in African Literatures
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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