African literature refers to literature of and from Africa. While the European perception of literature generally refers to written letters, the African concept includes oral literature (or "orature", in the term coined by Ugandan scholar Pio Zirimu).
As George Joseph notes in his chapter on African literature in Understanding Contemporary Africa, whereas European views of literature often stressed a separation of art and content, African awareness is inclusive:
- "Literature" can also imply an artistic use of words for the sake of art alone. ...traditionally, Africans do not radically separate art from teaching. Rather than write or sing for beauty in itself, African writers, taking their cue from oral literature, use beauty to help communicate important truths and information to society. Indeed, an object is considered beautiful because of the truths it reveals and the communities it helps to build.
Read more about African Literature: Oral Literature, Precolonial Literature, Colonial African Literature, Postcolonial African Literature, Noma Award, Major Novels From African Writers, Notable African Poets, Secondary Literature
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“Like dreaming, reading performs the prodigious task of carrying us off to other worlds. But reading is not dreaming because books, unlike dreams, are subject to our will: they envelop us in alternative realities only because we give them explicit permission to do so. Books are the dreams we would most like to have, and, like dreams, they have the power to change consciousness, turning sadness to laughter and anxious introspection to the relaxed contemplation of some other time and place.”
—Victor Null, South African educator, psychologist. Lost in a Book: The Psychology of Reading for Pleasure, introduction, Yale University Press (1988)
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