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The Liminal Novel

Studies in the Francophone-African Novel as Bildungsroman

Series:

Wangari wa Nyatetu-Waigwa

Critical studies of African literature, especially those treating colonial-era novels, have typically taken the form of thematic analyses. In an important departure from this trend, The Liminal Novel concentrates instead on how meaning is achieved in three African novels of the 1950s - Camara Laye's L'enfant noir, Hamidou Kane's L'aventure ambigue, and Mongo Beti's Mission terminée. The analysis offered here is innovative on at least two counts. First, appropriating the anthropological rite of passage model, it argues convincingly for a reclassification of the three novels as members of a subset within the genre of Bildungsroman. Second, while illuminating the artistic dimensions of these works through careful scrutiny of imagery, setting, and discourse, The Liminal Novel also provides a new and valuable tool for reading many colonial coming-of-age novels.