By Neil McEwan (auth.)
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Extra info for Africa and the Novel
The 42 Afr£ca and the Novel educated Toundi observes the commandant with a French as well as an African understanding of shame and the commandant has a French atheist's abhorrence of (silent) censure from the priest's boy. The servant who judges his master is punished himself. A further irony derives from a scene which is the key to Oyono's attack upon the French approach to their protectorate. Toundi serves at a reception in the Residence where M. Salvain the schoolmaster makes a remark which breaks a deeply respected European taboo.
The lesson he has been taught has made that appear unthinkable: 'ma race Jut celle des mangeurs d'hommes'. He has les Blancs to thank that he is not a cannibal. In fact he has learnt from reading Father Gilbert's diary, 44 Afr£ca and the Novel 'a grain-store of memories', a novelist's interest in detail, and from learning a new culture he has developed a novelist's alertness to behaviour although he lacks Oyono's sense of irony and humour. None of the guests is watching him as keenly as he watches them.
As a cultural creation, Toundi and Joseph, child of one race and pupil of another, the boy characterises the colonial period he lives in and slowly learns to judge at the house of the commandant. The novel's most painful irony is that, leaving home to go to the Father, Toundi has supposed that he would be joining their community. To do so he relinquished his own, joining the Father on the eve of his initiation 'when I should have met the famous serpent who watches over all the men of my race' ('qui veille sur tous ceux de notre race').
Africa and the Novel by Neil McEwan (auth.)