David Richards


The first one-and-a-half pilges of Anthills of the Savannah2 contain over twenty references to time. In a sense, it would be surprising indeed if a novel by Achebe did not concern itself with the past and the movement of time and its effects. All his previous novels have blended and reworked the often contradictory forms of classical realism and historical romance into an African context to the extent that he has largely set the agenda for the subsequent development of the African novel. An early critic of Achebe's, the Canadian novelist, Margaret Laurence, recognised the importance of his achievement and its determining effects upon African writing when she wrote that he sees 'History in terms of people with names and conflicts and places of belonging. Ilis sense of social injustice is like a white-hot sword wielded through his powerful irony.'3 Yet history, without diminishing its importance in a postcolonial context, can be made and remade almost at will, given the right circumstances and a voice empowered by indignation and sympathy. But time is different from history - more fluximal, elusive, challenging, and the novel's recurrent references to time require a closer investigation of temporal structures and what is being articulated through the novel's representation of time.



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