Toni Morrison, V. S. Naipaul, and Ben Okri
Chapter Four - An undiscovered continent: Ben Okri’s The Famished Road and the enlargement of historical reality 107
Chapter Four An undiscovered continent: Ben Okri’s The Famished Road and the enlargement of historical reality Poetry and myth are not just nostalgia for some unforgotten world. They constitute a disclosure of unprecedented worlds, an opening on to other possible worlds which transcend the established limits of our actual world.’ (Paul Ricoeur, ‘Myth as the Bearer of Possible Worlds’, p.489–90). Ambiguously, ending either in a literal or in an imaginative ‘cere- monial return’ to homeland Trinidad, The Enigma of Arrival and A Way in the World obtain a mythic grandeur in the sense that V.S. Naipaul continues to reveal new ways of rewriting personal and col- lective histories, as well as the necessity of re-imagining and remaking the world (Way, p.379). Above all, Naipaul’s transformation of history and exploration of cultural space are made specific through his inventive mixing of travel writing, character analysis, social com- mentary, and cultural critique with history and fiction. Perhaps it is interesting to note that Morrison’s Beloved also ends in the baby ghost’s deferred ‘ceremonial return’ to the land of the dead, ac- companied by the ritual singing of the community women. Most significantly, Beloved demonstrates Morrison’s commitment to re- create an unavailable past and reclaim a forgotten reality by combining historical documentary, slave narrative, ghost story, oral tradition and fictional discourse. Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, which won the 1991 Booker Prize, is also a genre-mixing novel. Blurring the boundaries of myth, folklore, history and fiction, The Famished Road leads to a...
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