ON AFRICAN LITERATURE & WORLD LITERATURE–A DIALOGUE FROM SPIRITUS MUNDI, NOVEL BY ROBERT SHEPPARD

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Note: The following is a Dialogue on African Literature and World Literature taking place in Midrand, South Africa, the site of the meeting of the Pan-African Parliament of the African Union (AU), amoung several renown African Writers, Scholars and activists in the Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly for global democracy. The participants include the celebrated African author and Pan-African Parliament Committee on African Culture and Literature Chairman Wole Obatala, Dr. Robert Sartorius a scholar on World Literature, and Pieter Verhoven, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Witwatersrand. The Dialogue touches on such fundamental questions as: 1) What is African Literature? 2) What is African Literature’s greatest potential contribution to the emerging body of World Literature? 3) Who are the most prominent potential African candidates for inclusion in the evolving canon of World Literature? 4) The question of the use of the major international languages such as English and French versus the native vernacular; 4) The role of Universal Archetypes in African and World Literature; 5) The role of the Archetypal Categories, including the Apollinian, Dionysian, Promethean and the Transformational; 6) The role of religion and tribe from the perspective of Evolutionary Biology;  7) The Question of “Roots and Shoots,” or the dilemma of the conflict of rootedness of the writer and literature in local native culture and tradition versus participation in universal values, global cosmopolitan society and Universal Civiization. The Dialogue is excerpted from the novel Spiritus Mundi, by author Robert Sheppard.

 

ON AFRICAN LITERATURE & WORLD LITERATURE–A DIALOGUE FROM SPIRITUS MUNDI, NOVEL BY ROBERT SHEPPARD

 

SARTORIUS: “Gladly! Well let’s see…….How should I get the ball rolling?……..Wait, let me get my notebook and take down a few notes—-I’ll never remember anything unless I get my legal tablets out…….All Right, how about starting off with a broad question?—————-What would you consider to be Africa’s greatest potential contribution to World Literature?”

WOLE OBATALA: “Well, not to be purposefully cryptic or paradoxical, I would say that the greatest contribution African writers and artists can make to World Literature is by remaining African, that is in vital contact with the African World and its particular genius, which, deeply rooted, is also part of the universal archetypal genius of humanity as a whole. As Leopold Senghor was wont to say drawing analogy to a flourishing plant or tree, Africans and African writers—-if I or anyone can presume to speak for so diverse a myriad of peoples and traditions and individuals—-should be both rooted in their own unique milieu, rooted in their own African soil, yet send forth their branches and vines in all directions to draw nourishment from the sun and light of all the world in all directions, and from all the peoples and cultures and traditions of the world.

What contribution shall Africa best make? What defines its potential unique contribution? I would say this by way of general observation, with the inherent qualifications of all very broad generalizations: Africa, like the ancient Greeks, remains in her constituent cultures, rooted in the more immanent experience of the soil, the Earth, and of palpable material experience. What I mean is not a naïve romantic primitivism, but rather the notion that the African World embodied in the millennia old cultures of the peoples of Africa and their experience of their gods and communities that are more firmly rooted both in the soil of their origin, and in the cosmic totality, perhaps in an age in which that umbilical connection has been attenuated or lost by other civilizations focused more on metaphysical abstraction, science, consumer market materialism and institutionalized or ideologized religion. This is not to deny that all peoples in their origins have been similarly rooted and in interaction with the cosmic totality, perhaps in a universal collective unconsciousness that is the common heritage of all mankind, but that perhaps this vital connection has been more vitally preserved in the communal, perhaps tribal cultures of the diverse African peoples.  Within this communal culture, ritual tradition has perhaps preserved this link, and as Nietzsche has often observed in his work with relation to the very similar origins of Greek tragedy, myth, music, dance, the plastic visual arts, and ultimately literature and the collective conscious and unconscious are all rooted in the Ritual Heritage of mankind-drawing the whole community together in ritually enacted dream under the totality of the cosmic sky and upon the broad fertile Earth, as in the rites of Dionysos, which gave birth to Greek tragedy.

But modern civilization in its industrial and post-industrial uprootedness, social- and self-alienations, severing individuals in vast metropolises and conurbations from their communities, families, communal roots, rituals and traditions, has posed a stark spiritual challenge to the peoples of the world, African and other. In the West perhaps the transition from the classical Greek and Roman gods to the Platonic-Christian tradition heightened this alienation from the cosmic totality rooted in the earth, confining the world of the spirit to the world of the mind, excluding the world of the earth, governed by science and reason, and excluding the chthonic, unconscious underworld realm, attenuated but never wholly lost anywhere. In the West D.H. Lawrence is associated with the counter-movement back into the sensual and subconscious realms, particularly through a re-spiritualization of sexuality, but also including a regeneration and re-spiritualization of the communal culture and its immanent immersion in the cosmos. In the Asiatic realm, perhaps Buddhism, that twin-brother of Christianity likewise oriented towards an individual salvation, similarly alienated those peoples from their cosmic, chthonic, communal and earthly roots, confining their spirituality to a more mental realm. Perhaps in the modern world, the relative contribution of the African World to the spirituality of global humanity might be to be, relatively speaking, good brothers to the spirit of the Greeks and in making a bridge of themselves to the realms of the Dionysian, Apollinian and the Promethean universal spirits of mankind, while adding their own communal heritage, their accommodating and balancing of the realms of the human and of the divine in a cosmic social harmony, of the sense of the common life of the living, the dead and the yet unborn in a common community of the spirit communicated via vital communal ritual, and a celebration of the transit of the realm of transition, dismemberment, transformation, and regeneration in the hero or god’s middle passage between those diverse cosmic realms. 

The archetypal protagonists of the chthonic realm, Orpheus, Xbalanque and Huanahpu, Gilgamesh, and Ulysses did penetrate into the chthonic netherworld in concrete and elemental terms. And in Asia, Lord Shiva drove his ecstatic course through the very earth, uniting all of the elements of the cosmos with his powerful erection, which burst through to the Earth’s surface, split in three, and spurted sperm into the upper cosmos like a vast cosmic geyser from the chthonic depths! If the African writer and artist is only a fraction better situated from his communal heritage to follow the thread of Ariadne, collective Mnemosyne perhaps,—–to guide humanity from its lost wanderings in the Labyrinth of Alienation of modern civilization back to the organic light of the cosmic sun; to help it overcome its schizophrenic compartmentalization of world and self and refigure globalization to include a greater completing of the cosmic circle, human consciousness and collective unconsciousness circumnavigating each other in reconstitution of a lost organic unity——it is only because, perhaps they have kept the silken thread of the universal human collective unconscious more firmly between their communal fingers.

As you know, I am from Nigeria, and my study of World Literature and of the Greek tragedy, with its struggles of humanity and the gods, its Dionysian, Apollinian and Promethean spirits, leads me ever back to my own Yoruba heritage, and the stories of our African gods, Ogun, Obatala and Sango. Our ritual enactment of the drama of our ancient gods correlates well with the common heritage of mankind reflected in the better-known Greek tragedy, and there are many parallels, though of course many divergences, between Ogun and Dionysos and the Dionysian and perhaps Promethean universal human spirits and sensibilities and Obatala, and the Apollinian. Not that one or the other tradition is better or worse, but perhaps because we still have authentic communal enactments of their tragic stories within our extant tribal communities, and the “choric voice” of the tribe still, in a weakened state or transformed state, preserves a link to the masked archetypal voice of the collective unconscious common heritage of mankind, so perhaps we can make a unique contribution at the present moment, perhaps in aid of such Western artists as Joyce, Lawrence, Yeats and innumerable others, struggling to recover the endangered common archetypal and cosmic imagination and so dialate the consciousness of all mankind. With them we may find again everything sacred and nothing profane. T.S. Eliot, in his famous Tradition and the Individual Talent elaborates on the plastic nature of the collective wisdom of mankind, and how each new master work takes its place in “the tradition” and adds to and modifies it by its presence. Despite in colonial days being revolutionary, Africans are also deep traditionalists, attached to the traditions of their tribes and ancestors as much as Eliot to his own great tradition. The best African writers are also Protagonists of Continuity, especially with relationship to their communal heritages, along with Eliot, as well as persistent reformers and even revolutionaries with regard to social exploitation, corruption and disintegration which the evils of modern life too often inflict on that continuity. Much of their effort is directed at a retrieval of this common heritage of all mankind, alongside their own communal or tribal heritage, even though some may yield to the inferior temptation of ressentiment in attempting a retributive and spurious racial retrieval—Rastifarian nonsense, based not on the collective consciousness and unconsciousness of the race, one with the human race as a whole, but a pseudo-tribalist war-totem of pigment and hate alien to their own heritage. The task is not to overthrow tradition, as the early Modernists would have done, but first of all to widen it to include the millennia of contributions of all civilizations and their ancient written and oral heritages, and then form a new living relationship with that “globalized tradition” including the heritage of conscious literature and myth alongside the eternal presence of the collective unconscious, yet not allowing the tradition to ossify and strangle new and creative innovation, but rather to lend energy and resource to such innovation in the constant evolution of the ever-transforming collective wisdom of humanity. In some ways the sagas and myths of the African gods such as the suffering and struggling god Ogun and the archetypally saintly Obatala draw renewed modern vitality because these gods are, like struggling modern man, struggling with their own destinies, limitations and errors in an uncertain cosmos; they are journeying gods, exploring gods, making their way through a cosmic wilderness——a realm of uncertain meaning and destiny—– much in common with modern and classical Western human heroes——-in the struggle to work out their own destiny in a universe where, brother with modern man, the fate of the gods may be as uncertain or as absurd even, as the fates of their cosmic brothers, modern man and mankind, with whom they are common members of a more comprehensive spiritual cosmic community—including gods and men, female and male, man and nature, and the spirits of the living, the dead and the yet unborn—–which they must struggle against odds to restore, revitalize and rebalance to sustain the process of cosmic life.

The transformation of uncivil urges into the woof and web of human society—-family and community—is one of the great mysteries and miracles of human civilization. Sexuality, profound, savage, perverse and life-giving, the fear of death and the craving for life, the fear of the dead and the dream of the immortality of the flesh as well as the spirit—these are all part of the sexual dialectic within us. Mastery and submission, sadism and masochism, the desire to hurt those whom we love and be hurt by them for our desires, the conflict within us between knowledge formed into a civilizing power and the sustaining and solely sustainable power of unknowable and profoundly uncivil urges of primordial vitality, balanced precariously between the desire for eternal peace and rest and the equal and opposite desire for ever renewed and endlessly vibrant life, these contradictions and involutions of the human spirit, they have always been and will always be within us. Its terror, its horror and orgasmic beauties will always threaten and convulse the fragile vial of mere individuality, and dissolve and re-dissolve its essence into the greater colloidal solution, the great suspension of living energy, life and life force, out of which it is forever precipitating and returning to its mothering solution. The fusion of the male and female nucleus, and the male and female psyches, one into another, necessitating the mutual obliteration of both into a greater whole, is the horror and beauty to which we are born. All this gives ever renewing life energy and force to our myths, our religions, our art and to our world literature, both here in Africa and universally across the living world of man.

The very environmental movement calls out for a new and creative reconciliation of man and nature, hitherto implacable tormenters of each other. Thus Ogun, with Osiris and Dionysos-Zagreus, and by extension Christ, shares the experience of modern man in his psychic disintegration, and they must face the psychic abyss of dismemberment, death, greater reintegration and resurrection to a greater life—they must negotiate the Passage of Terror—the middle passage between the realms of life, and death and greater life. African myth may thus make some vital contribution to the psychic and social sanity of modern man and modern civilization—the strengthening of the communal psyche of global humanity, rendering it more fit for global life. In the end, what is the social and cosmic role of myth, literature and the imaginative arts—African literature and World Literature included?—-we can only say that they are in service to life, and their role and their measure of success is the extent to which they strengthen the individual and the collective communal strength and capacity for life—and to marshal, mobilize and enhance their maximum common energies——–to endure life’s horrors, contradictions, transitions and trials—inevitable death, transformation and re-birth included, and to more completely partake of life’s beauties, ecstasies and joys—to live most wholly and most vitally.” concluded Obatala.

“Well, I am afraid my brother here is much too much of a romantic for me…….” enjoined Pieter Verhoven, Professor of the University of Witwatersrand while draining the first glass of his second bottle of Scotch,  “I am a scientist, an anthropologist and an evolutionary biologist and I have seen too much of the veldt and the jungle to believe in the benign face of nature and the all harmonizing power of mankind’s myths and religions. For me a Darwinian approach offers the key to understanding myth, ritual and religion—–in other words, as an evolutionary biologist I side with those who think man’s propensity for religion has some adaptive function—some survival function. Faith would not have persisted over thousands of generations if it had not helped the human race to survive. Oh, yes, I know what you are thinking—-that a true materialist scientist of the Enlightenment would conclude that faith is a useless or retrograde by-product of other human characteristics, best superseded by reason and science.  Does Darwinian selection take place at the level only of individuals, or of groups as well? You can denounce me as a “Social Darwinist” but I firmly believe that groups which practised religion effectively and enjoyed its benefits were likely to prevail over those which lacked these advantages. Of course, the picture is muddied by the vast changes that religion went through in the journey from tribal dancing to Anglican hymns and as the opium of social class exploitation denounced by Marx.  The advent of settled, agricultural societies, at least 10,000 years ago, led to a new division of labour, in which priestly castes tried to monopolise access to the divine, and the authorities sought to control sacred ecstasy, both in pursuit of their own class interests.

Still, the modifications that religion has undergone should not distract from focusing of faith’s basic functions. In what way, then, does religion enhance a group’s survival? Above all, by promoting moral rules and cementing cohesion and an inner dedication of the evolving powers of the individual to a collective mission, in a way that makes people ready to subordinate, regiment and sacrifice themselves for the group and to deal ruthlessly with outsiders. Faith survives against all odds and all evidence because of the collective instinct for survival bred in the bones. At root all religions are “churches militant” and all gods are war totems—even when we make a religion of a people or a state—“Das Volk—über alles!”—“Ein fester Schloss ist unser Gott!”……Believe me the believing heart is a savage heart, but a heart with a sacred respect for the holiness of the life force itself! The great proselytizing religions have the further advantage of widening the previously tribal cults to a civilizational basis and allowing a ever wider population to struggle for survival together, united in supertribal quasi-war totems and enhancing their probability of survival against the smaller cults. Can any religion become universal, then, uniting the entire human community for the purpose of all of humanity’s common survival?  Ethically this would be a logical culmination of the process of evolution, but would probably degenerate into schism and struggle of competing power elites within such a universal religion for power and control—-unmasking the rootedness of all religion in the will to power and the survival instinct.

All religion is concerned in varying degrees with metaphysical ideas, moral norms and mystical experience. But in the great religions, the moral and the mystical have often been in tension. The more a religion stresses ecstasy, the less it seems hidebound by rules—especially rules of public behaviour, as opposed to purely religious norms. And religious movements from the Deuteronomists and Pharisees of ancient Israel to the English Puritans that emphasise moral norms tend to eschew the ecstatic. Max Weber, one of the fathers of religious sociology, contrasted the transcendental feelings enjoyed by Catholic mass-goers with the Protestant obsession with behaviour. In Imperial Russia, Peter the Great tried to pull the Russian Orthodox church from the former extreme to the latter: to curb its love of rite and mystery and make it more of a moral agency like the Lutheran churches of northern Europe. He failed. Russians liked things mystical, and they didn’t like being told what to do and how they must do it———especially being told to abandon their instincts.

We must distinguish the truth value of religion from its social, civilizational and moral and survival value. I have always been underimpressed with the truth value of Islam: I consider it a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion extending to the fabrication of a few non-events, qualities it shares with the other great religions. But nonetheless I respect Islam as the taproot of a great civilization which at times in history has even eclipsed the West in its accomplishments and manifestations, and which has played a profound role in raising tribal societies to the level of civilization, no doubt enabling their further survival in Darwinian terms. I demystify these things and put them on a scientific basis.” he said.

“Science may explain people, but it cannot understand them.” offered Eva.

“You may say so, my dear lady, but nevertheless the roots of religion are blood red and savage, like the Aztec gods Huitzilapochtli and Quetzalquatl and those roots are firmly rooted in the urge to survival of the blood—-survival of the tribe and the Volk even above the claims of the survival of the individual.  But there is where mankind runs into its contradictions—for every tribe or race or Volk is a small part of humanity and so the totems have to be rationalized and moralized into ethical forms and norms that can broaden and unite the billions and not just the savage ten-thousand or one million of one’s own tribe and race. But then they get farther from the blood and enervate into plaster saints and pastel images that fail to grip the individual heart or the communal common heart. So every millennium or so demands a cathartic religious revolution or reformation that pours the living blood back into the ennervate chalices, and it’s usually a religious war that does the trick nicely, bringing back the atavistic heart and blood to the sacrificial alter. No, I am not optimistic about the spirit of man—-yes, religions and myths unite our metatribes with ethical and spiritual metanorms and metavalues—but they demand an Anti-Christ, an apostate, an enemy of the true faith, an inimical tribe of unbelievers, a realm of darkness, an Infidel barbarian “Evil Empire” to hate and crush as the price of that unity—believe me the holy altars are covered with homicidal war totems and the unwashable stains of blood—and it is the very effectiveness of these war totems which has led to the survival of their peoples—assuredly each one the “chosen people” of their totem god like the fierce Yaweh dismembering the Canaanites and Amelekites for his chosen lovelies! Believe me—if you have any candid honesty to look upon humanity without cheerful optimistic delusions you will see that Hate is older than Love in the human heart and in its tabernacles, and its roots have sunk in and set themselves down far deeper! If you rent the veil of the Temple and every human heart within it you will find two inimical Giants eternally struggling with each other—Eros and Thanatos—powerfully muscled limb to limb, tooth to fang and blood to blood—- Love yes—but a love rooted in the hate and aggression of the human heart fighting for survival in the jungle into which Adam and Eve found themselves cast—from an Eden which was surely but a myth covering the fact that the true god was not of any Paradise but always of the Jungle with a savage face conceived by man’s fevered brain out of his struggle with that jungle to which he had to unite his whole frightened will through the collective strength and will of his tribesmen and their totems and protecting gods to survive! Shiva the Destroyer has always been part of the pantheon even beside Shiva the Sustainer. And where does all of this leave a civilized man of enlightenment and science? God only knows! Probably man will strangle and choke himself to extinction on his own hate and aggression and short-sightedness while praying to his God while his enemy prays to his own God by a hated name in another language! I think Huntington’s Clash of so-called Civilizations will be nearer the truth in the end than Naipaul’s “Universal Civilization.”—-don’t get me wrong—I hope to God that I am wrong, but I don’t think I am. I don’t think we are going to root out the Savage God in the savage human heart by denying he exists. Rationality and the light of the Enlightenment click off in the human brain when the red light of threat, survival, instinct and do-or-die sacrifice goes on! Or maybe hidden in that savage heart so savagely struggling for survival is the secret wish of Thanatos for the Dark Nirvana of death and peace—as in Swinburne’s Garden of Proserpine—“Only the sleep eternal, in eternal night.” Civilization—civilization is eternally struggling with the caged ape within—-struggling with its deepest rooted collective unconscious and most savage instincts. Civilization may survive—I give it a fighting chance—I am one of its discontents but also its loyal prodigal son—–but if it does it will be by the skin of its teeth!

“Pieter, Pieter…..lighten up! You’ll have to cut Pieter a little slack—-with him mankind’s quest for collective ecstasy takes myriad forms—in his case melodramatic melancholy flowing out of an excess of Schnapps!” chirped in Obatala jokingly.   

“What would you consider the strongest candidates of African Literature for inclusion in a body of World Literature?” continued Sartorius, scratching in the question on his yellow legal pad behind another Roman Numeral.

“Well, of course, in terms of the instantly recognizable “names” of African literature in the global public imagination, there are of course the Nobel Prize winners such as Wole Soyinka of Nigeria, and Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee of South Africa, and the North African-Arabic contingent such as Naguib Mahfouz and perhaps Camus, as well as many African writers who have attained considerable global currency such as Chinua Achebe, the author of Things Fall Apart, Alan Paton, Ben Okri, Leopold Senghor, Mariama Ba and many, many others.

If we move beyond the obvious, however, then we get into perhaps theoretical difficulties in conceiving what exactly this presupposed “African Literature” might be, what its contributions to a corpus or canon of World Literature might be over the ages, and hence what “Masters” or “Masterpieces,” whatever they might be, could or ought to be included, by any reasonable criteria

What then, is African Literature? Presumably, we would want the most inclusive definitions possible, though by so doing we might well step on others’ toes. First of all, it is inescapable to recognize that Africa in an incredibly diverse continent, with thousands of tribes and languages, each with their own culture and history, not to speak of the many modern nation-states, with somewhat the heritage of European colonialism superimposed upon them. Here we get into the complexities that bedevil African literature as a concept that are not so problematic to many European literatures, focusing on more compact peoples united in language, geographical territory and political or ethnic unity, though even there we often encounter many of the same problems if we scratch but a little beneath the surface. Should we include or exclude, for instance, white or colonial writers writing in or about Africa?—Arabic writers?—Writers of African hereditary, racial, and cultural origin, but displaced to other geographical regions such as Derek Walcott or Toni Morrison?—-African Writers in English or French or other non-African languages? Non-African writers writing of or about Africa—such as Conrad in the Heart of Darkness or Rider Hagard, of Isaak Dinisen? Afrikaans writers such as Ernst van Heerden? All these are threshold problems of large proportions. At the base of these questions lies a deeper question: What is “Africa?” It is a large chunk of land, of course, a continent—but is “Africa” also a particular people, a particular race or a particular culture, one or more “civilization?” or a “world,”——or is it a chaos of disconnected tribes—a primordial wilderness jungle of human and pre-human heritage—an absence of civilization as some might imagine in derogation?—does it have any particular source of indigenous cohesion exclusive of its external influences from other civilizations? Is the unity of Africa only an alien illusion imposed upon it by alien cartographers looking at it from the outside, or is it a psychic unity somehow present in all its inhabitants ready to be rediscovered for the looking? Is Africa black? —or is it also white, and Khoisan, and Pygmy and going back to its roots from the ‘Out of Africa Theory” did Africa include all the races in their origins, even to the whites and Asians, some remaining in part and others departing in part, some returning but all of the same mother? But if we assume that Mother Africa would not disown any of her children that sought her, and seek for a definition that would be most inclusive we might find African Literature would include at least four broad divisions:

1)     The Westerner or other non-African writer who utilizes the subject matter of Africa in a language not native to the African continent—-E.g. Conrad, Greene; and Castro Soromenho.

2)     The African writer, black or white, who utilizes the subject matter of Africa, or other subject matter, in a language native to the African continent—Eg. Mofolo and Thiong’o;

3)     The African writer who utilizes the subject matter of Africa, but who writes in a non-African language that has, by custom, become part of the African means of communication—-English, French, Arabic—-Achebe, Soyinka, Mahfouz, Senghor, Ba, Gordimer;

4)     The Non-African writer of significant African heritage writing in any language incorporating major elements of that heritage or the subject matter of Africa—Walcott, Morrison, Aimee Cesaire, etc.

      In addition to these categorical problems, we also have the complication of the interface and relationship of the signal forms of language itself—namely the relationship of written Literature to, what we might term Oral Literature or, for want of a better term, “Orature.” For here the special problem of Africa, really a universal problem rather than a merely African problem, however, raises its head——namely, how can we take account of “Literature” amoung the thousands of African languages which had no writing or system of writing prior to colonization, and if, as we assume, their cultural genius and wisdom in the absence of a written language was transmitted by oral forms in an oral cultural tradition, then how do we integrate that reality into our concept of “World Literature,” whatever that brave new concept might prove to be? We might think of this as a special African problem, but it is really a universal one, since, by anthropological conjecture, all branches of the human family were without writing during most of their evolution and history, minimally for at least sixty-four or five of the last seventy-thousand years, and almost assuredly such works as the Iliad and Odyssey, the Chinese Book of Songs and parts of the Bible began as oral compositions before being recorded in written form in later centuries.” Obatala continued as his voice hoarsened.

“Would you like another glass of cognac or some fruit juice” asked Christina, sensing his discomfort after talking at so extended a length.

“Yes, both if you would” he replied, taking up a tall beaker-glass of fruit punch.   

     But if we set aside those deeper questions for a short moment, and just take a panoramic tour-de-horizon around the continent of the recent era to get a broad overview of some of the strong writers who, either now or in the oncoming generation may rise to the level of global interest then we could say, first, in the broad area of East and Central African Literature we have strong candidates in Ngugi wa Thiong’o of Kenya, novelist, short-story and essayist—author of such works as Weep Not, Child, A Grain of Wheat, The River Between and Devil on the Cross; then we could include Nuruddin Farah of Somalia—-From a Crooked Rib and Sweet and Sour Milk and Okot p’Bitek of Uganda and Shaaban Robert of Tanzania—Maisha Yanga and A Conceivable World. David Rubadir of Malawi and Tchicaya u Tam’si of Congo could also be mentioned.

Then if we survey Southern African Literature, we would need to include Thomas Mofolo of Basutoland, novelist and prose writer, including such works as The Pilgrim of the East and Chaka the Zulu. Solomon T Plaatze, author of Mhudi and Native Life in South Africa; of course the greats Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee, and many others such as Alan Paton, Peter Abrahams, A Wreath for Udomo, Ezekiel Mphahlele—Down Second Avenue and The African Image and a healthy host of South African writers such as A.C. Jordan, H.I.E. Dhlomo, B.W. Vilakazi, Alex la Guma, Bloke Modisane, Lewis Nkosi and Noni Jabavu—a woman writer of the Xhosha people—Drawn in Colour and The Ocre People, as well as Dennis Brutus and Alfred Hutchinson.

If we then turn to West African Literature, we have a rich offering led off by the Nigerian greats Wole Soyinka—Death and the King’s Horseman, The Swamp Dwellers, A Dance in the Forest, Idanre and Mandela’s Earth and Chinua Achebe—Things Fall Apart, but are also blessed with a host of near-great and to-be-great such as Amos Tutola of Nigeria—The Palm Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts; and also Cyprian Ekwensi, Flora Nwapa, Elechi Amadi, Buchi Emecheta, and Ben Okri—Flowers and Shadows, The Landscapes Within; and some of the younger writers, Okigbo, Aig-Imoukhuede, Ekwere, Sagun and Echeruo.

Outside Nigeria there would also be Ba, Lenrie Peters of Gambia, George Awoonor-Willians, Efua Theodora Sutherland, Kweel Brew and Ellis Ayftey Komey, William Conton, Syl-Cheney Coker of Sierra Leone, Kofi Anyidoho of Ghana, and Mariama Ba, Ousame Sembene and Cheik Allou Ndao of Senegal.

In the widest definition, African Literature would include works in the most diverse languages:  in English—Achebe, Soyinka, etc; French—Birago Diop, Gide, Kessel, Malonga, Oyono; in German—Kurt Heuser; in Danish—Buchholz and Dinesen; multiple African native languages—Mofolo and Thiong’o; in the English of South Africans—Gordimer, Paton;  and in Afrikaans—Nuthall Fula and Ernst van Heerden.” he continued, first stubbing out a Cuban cigar butt and feeling in his sports coat pocket for another.

Garry Bonoir observing his embarrassment then reached into his own breast pocket and took out two of his own in silver metal containers, and unscrewing them lit one for Obatala and one for himself.

“Do you smoke them also?” he said, motioning towards Sartorius with a third.

“I have sinned in the past but Eva is trying to get me to quit.” grinned back Sartorius.

  

“Related to this phenomenon,” continued Obatala, “…….is the controversy over whether African writers should continue to write in their former colonial languages—English, French, Portugese, Arabic, or whether they should call quits and launch out into writing in the language of the local indigenous vernaculars. This problem was acute at the time of independence some fifty years ago, yet continues as a question in the “Post-colonial” era, a problem shared by writers of other areas, such as those of India and Pakistan in relation to Anglo-Indian literature. In Africa different sides of the question were championed by writers such as Molly Mahood, the Nigerian professor after independence at University College, Ibidan who famously called for the development of a new African-Nigerian literature in English, with the other side represented by Ngugi wa Thiong’o of Kenya, calling for a transition from colonial English to the local indigenous vernaculars, such as his own Kikuyu. Outsiders might harp that Africans now had independence, so why not quit complaining in the colonial language and build a literature in the native vernacular. This, however, would ignore many unfortunate realities, such as the fact that the nations of Africa were often artificial amalgamations of hundreds of different tribes, languages and traditions unified only by the colonial language and bureaucracy. Many of those “local vernaculars’ were without writing, or if one had been adapted, there was very little literature in it, and hardly any practical works necessary to deal with life in the modern world. So fragmented were they that local literatures were simply unviable, or if viable, were divisive with regard to the larger nation, often making the colonial language the only practical glue to hold the country together. Nonetheless, the inevitable result of adherence to education in the colonial language would be the development of sharp class divisions between the native speaking uneducated working and peasant classes and the English- and French-educated, wealthier urban elite. Thiong’o, argued for the necessity of solidarity with the majority of one’s own people in the language of that people, just as Europeans since the Renaissance and the Gutenberg Revolution and the democratic bourgeois revolutions, gradually shifted from a Latin based elite education and classical colonial-language literature (Latin), to writing their literatures in the vernacular of the people: English, French, German, Italian, etc.

Beyond the controversy of that era, however, lay the more recent controversy, based on the further dilemmas of Globalization. African nations, peoples and intellectuals, after liberation from imperial conquest and national independence, still had to find their way in a more and more globalized world of which their home countries and cultures were but a small part. Thus, globalization placed further pressure on national elites to carry on their educations and their cultures and literatures in English or French, so as to avoid being fatally isolated or marginalized in a global world, either economically or culturally. A writer writing in a world language such as English, or to a lesser extent French or Arabic, could have a good hope of finding support and even financial success across the globe. A writer in Kikuyu would find little global currency, especially in the absence of translation into English, and his career might be snuffed out by censorship by the local political tyrant or establishment. Thus many African writers found writing in English or French to be the only viable pathway to be “citizens of the world” as well as “citizens of the Republic of Letters” and they of course always had the option of writing in both the native vernacular and the world lingua franca, as did their predecessors of an earlier age,  such as Petrarch, Dante, Bacon and More. Many concluded that if African writers wanted to serve the cause of Africa being healthily accepted as part of the modern world and its thinkers and artists empowered to make their contributions to that wider world, then they must cultivate the world languages, particularly of English and French, and continue to make use of them as the most effective bridges between their own cultures and the wider modern world and humanity as a whole globally.

As I said before, the problem of the oral origin of much of the “Orature” of Africa complicates how to integrate African Literature into the common heritage of World Literature, and to integrate it historically into periods, etc. But if we look to its inclusion in the historical canon of World Literature, then of course the African oral tradition would give a rich contribution to the myths, fables, riddles, histories, songs, proverbs, dramas and stories of origin of the pre-literate ages of all peoples, and provide material for the uncovering of the archetypes of the collective unconscious shared by all human kind. Looking back historically, we have the rediscovery of some of the oral epics dating back over the last thousand years, such as the Mali Legend of Sundiata, The Ozidi, and The Mwindo. These often reflect the influence of Arabic culture or other exogenous influences at the time of origin or in their time of recording in imported script. In more modern times the oral tradition has been strongly present in modern literature—as in the Kikuyu songs incorporated in the Kenyan plays of Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the Acholi oral poem structure incorporated in the Song of Iowino, by p’Bitek and in the speech and oral proverbs present in Achebe’s great novel, Things Fall Apart.

Some of the first writings by Africans to come to the attention of Westerners were the slave narratives and other “testimonial literature” of the 19th Century, such as the Life and Adventures of Olauda Equiano, and similar narratives such as that of Frederick Douglass in America, written in the global colonial languages. While often criticized, undoubtedly true in part, as not being of intrinsic high literary quality or deep works of art, these works are often included in anthologies as “Windows on the World” and of significant sociological and historical interest, particularly in giving Westerners a chance to see their own history through other people’s eyes. As Africans became literate in their own languages, they increasingly stood up to tell the forgotten stories of their own people’s struggles against colonial conquest and dominance as in Mofolo’s story of the Zulu leader: Chaka.

In the 19th Century and early 20th Century African writers developed newspapers in colonial and native languages and began to contribute to the development of a body of literature. In Francophone West Africa writers such a Leopold Senghor were active in the “negritude” movement, along with Leon Damas and Aime Cesaire, French speakers from Guiana and Martinique. Their poetry and literature not only denounced imperialism, but asserted the vitality of the cultures that colonialism sought to suppress.

After World War II, Africans began demanding and then achieving independence, and the growth of African national literatures, as well as a Pan-African literature began to take shape, led by figures such as Soyinka, Achebe, Sembene, Okri, Thiong’o, p’Bitek, and Jacques Rabemannanjara. Important contributions were made by such writers as Duro Lapido, Cheeikh Hamidou Kane and the L’Aventure Ambigue, Yambo Oulougem’s Le Devoir de Violence, and Ayi Kwie Armah’s Two Thousand Seasons. They were largely writing in the global colonial languages and on themes such as the clash of the colonial and indigenous cultures, condemnation of racialism and imperial subjugation, pride in African heritage and hope for the future under independence and social transformation.

In the apartheid era, a strong literature reflected the trials and contradictions of life under that regime with the rise of writers such as Gordimer, Coetzee, Paton, Brutus, Bessie Head and Miriam Tlali, all addressing, along with universal themes, the problems of life across the racial divide.

Ironically, after so much transformation, much of more contemporary African literature seemed to reveal disillusionment, loss of hope, and dissent from current events. For example, V.Y. Mudimbe in Before the Birth of the Moon, seemed typical in exploring a doomed love affair in a society rife with deceit and corruption at all levels. And in Kenya Ngugi wa Thiong’o was arrested for producing plays in Kikuyu highly critical of the nation’s corrupt and arbitrary government.” concluded Obatala as he grew silent and thoughtful over his last glass of cognac. 

“Bosh and Cant! I say. Bosh and Cant!……..” snarled out Pieter Vehoven effusing with a mixed tone of devilmaycare humor and an excess of Schnaps and cigar smoke. “You two talk as if Literature were the incarnation of Sweetness and Light, of Tolerance and Civilization—-Bosh! I will tell you what Literature is, and it is not just one drunken Boer talking, but the whole culmination of your modern Literary Theory—Deconstruction and Rhetoric Studies—Foucault—I’ll tell you what Literature is: Literature is War! Nothing more and nothing less! War—pure and simple! What does De Man and Derrida and the rest have to say? That all Literature, nay, all utterance, all speech is nothing but Rhetoric, nothing but an expression of tribal self-interest of groups contending for power over others by slight of hand!—-‘Raubtiere mit zerbrochene Zȁhne!”  What is Deconstruction?—Simply the proposition that any writing is reducible to an act of invidious selfish and tribally murderous aggression by speakers and writers over anyone gullible enough to ignore that fact! Patriarchy against Matriarchy, Sons against Fathers, young against old, gay against straight, vested interests against insurgent interests, Old Ism’s against New Ism’s as tribal war totems on the battlefield! ‘The Great Conversation?’—Ha!—its just a dialogue of the deaf—or a monologue of the hegemonic self-interested before its underlings who are not a whit morally better, just weaker and less culturally competent—Bellum omnium contra omnes!  There is no “civilization” anymore, just a field of battle, increasingly Balkanized into more and more pygmy tribes—Queer Studies, Feminists, Post-Feminists, Post-Colonialists, New Critics, Freudians, Post-Freudians, Structuralists, Post-Structuralists, Deconstructionists, New Historians, Old Historians, Cultural Materialists, Traditionalists, Albanian-Lesbian Literature, Sexually-Abused-Queer Left-Handed Jewish Chicana Studies—it’s all a farce of vicious and deceitful totemism and tribalism!—Just ask Derrida and De Man, don’t take my word for it! In the words of your friend Achebe as well as Yeats: Things Fall Apart—the center cannot hold. As far as civilization and reason are concerned, there is no there there—it is all Rhetoric and self-interest! These issues will be settled with sticks and stones, not words! Even Greenblatt tells us the future of Literary Studies is just a process of redrawing boundaries, tribal war frontiers of interest groups. Staging areas for future war campaigns. Ideas? Ideals? Truth? Universal Civilization? Artistic Excellence? Beauty?—-Bosh and more Bosh! You two are dinosaurs—the last of an endangered species near extinct—the last Humanists on your deathbeds!”

“Chill out, Pieter!” chided Wole with a calm and humorous grin, “….you know that is just Schnaps talking, and we are having too lovely and civilized an afternoon to go chasing your red flags or your devil’s-play bull!  But Robert and I will tell you point blank anyway, even if all that cynical and oversimplifying hegemonic discourse were taken as true, which I don’t give in to, and ‘culture’ could aspire to nothing more than a Hobbensian Cultural Leviathan or Cultural Hegemon, then we would still willingly enlist, build and fight on the side of a so-called liberal patriarchal humanist universal civilization of Enlightenment as the highest, though imperfect product of your jungle evolution which our limited evolutionary history has on offer, a morally justified choice to side with the aristocratic best on offer—not perfect, but as good as it gets under present conditions—open to the affiliation and consent of the best of all of the warring factions, and open to its own onward evolution. We would still be fully morally justified in choosing a civilized and enlightend Cultural Leviathan over a tribal, despotic or reptilian one, or the breakdown of human community altogether. And Robert’s United Nations Parliamentary Assembly offers the best global forum by which such a world culture and universal social and cultural contract based on of the best traditions on offer and its evolving institutions can be built, negotiated and receive legitimate democratic consent.”

“I’m with Wole on this one Pieter…..” Sartoius seconded, “……..Though one could just as well deduce from the Post-Moderns’ Hobbesian pan-War, with each individual and Balkanized social group reciprocally blocking the assertion of the others’ interests, that, instead of a general affirmation this war of all against all produces only general negation, a deconstructed inhuman society, yet, I must believe that we humans are possessed of a communicative rationality informed by a universal pragmatics tending to human survival; You are the evolutionary biologist! If you believe religion and myth were bred into the DNA of the most primitive clans of proto-humans, how less can reason, communicative reason fail to be deep-rooted in our instinctive beings as a means of our survival? And even if you reject all mataphysics as a scientist and believe only in the evolutionary power of a life force, does not this life force in the very process of the evolution of consciousness and intelligence exhibit an innate drive of life to look upon and comprehend itself—for life to look upon the face of life through life—and isn’t this life force itself a form of living Providence with or without a God?

No!—-No! In Thunder! The very root of our work for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly—not to mention our emerging World Literature, is founded on the universal human capacity for communicative rationality—-I must believe that all speech acts and literary works, even politically motivated rhetoric have a greater “Telos,” an end greater than our small selves and selfish interests in the instinctive drive towards mutual understanding—without it our clans of proto-humans would never have maintained the cohesion to survive—along with the communicative competence to bring about such understanding, even in the face of the farce of modern parliaments. Regardless of our disparate traditions, our ‘clash of civilizations,’—Western, Islamic, Confucian, Brahman, despite our disparate tribal and national tantrums and atrocities, for our own survival we cannot help but coming to grips with our fragilly shared lives in this small world, this ‘Lifeworld–Lebenswelt’ as Habermas puts it, and if a philosophical or linguistic skepticism can question our perception of absolute truth and absolute reality, nevertheless that universal pragmatism and the communicative rationality of reconstructive science and reason can bring us forwards to a living consensus, driven by the life force, close enough in common facts, shared aesthetic experience, vision and working universal common values to constitute a working truth—applied pragmatics lets say, and a moral modus vivendi sufficient for the purposes of our human survival.”  

At length, after a long afternoon of vebal sparring and refilled buffet plates, Champagne, cocktails and a long and significant chain of conversation and renewed small talk the small group broke up and summoned the maitre d’ to call for taxis to take them back to their hotels, \ and they departed with an elaborate ritual of thanks, leavetaking and friendship. Over the next three days Sartorius and Bonoir attended each other’s speeches at the relevant committees and special assemblies of the Pan-African Parliament held in the meeting halls and function rooms of the Gallagher Estate in Midrand, situated astride the theoretical mid-point between the commercial capital Johannesburg and the political capital of Pretoria. Each treated the other to dinner after their speeches and both treated Wole Obatala and Pieter Verhoven to another dinner at the Ama-Cradle on the day before Obatala was to return to Lagos. Sartorius continued to pick Obatala’s brain regarding African Literature, and used up three yellow legal pads taking down his notes. They all thanked Pieter Verhoven for the many sidetrips he took them on to show them the highlights of South African culture and history in and about JoBurg and a quick jaunt to take them for a drive-by of the national capital in Pretoria, and it was with a personal regret that Eva and Sartorius waved goodbye to Verhoven and Christina at the Johannesburg International Airport as they mounted the steps to board the British Airways flight to Heathrow in the UK.

END

 

For further introduction to Spiritus Mundi, Novel by Robert Sheppard See:

 

Introducing Spiritus Mundi, a Novel by Robert Sheppard

Author’s E-mail: rsheppard99_2000@yahoo.com

Related Links and Websites: Spiritus Mundi, Novel by Robert Sheppard

For Introduction and Overview of the Novel: https://spiritusmundinovel.wordpress.com/

For Updates on the Upcoming Movie Version of the Novel, Spiritus Mundi & Casting of Actors and Actresses for Leading Roles See: https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com/

For Author’s Blog: https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com//

To Read Abut the Occupy Wall Street Movement in Spiritus Mundi:  http://occupywallstreetnovel.wordpress.com/

To Read a Sample Chapter from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundisamplechapters.wordpress.com/

To Read Fantasy, Myth and Magical Realism Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundifantasymythandmagicalrealism.wordpress.com/

To Read Sexual Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: The Varieties of Sexual Experience: https://spiritusmundivarietiesofsexualexperience.wordpress.com/

To Read Spy, Espionage and Counter-terrorism Thriller Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: http://spiritusmundispyespionagecounterterrorism.wordpress.com/

To Read Geopolitical and World War Three Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundigeopoliticalworldwar3.wordpress.com/

To Read Spiritual and Religious Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundionspiritualityandreligion.wordpress.com/

To Read about the Global Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundiunitednationsparliamentaryassembly.wordpress.com/

To Read Poetry from Spiritus Mundihttps://spiritusmundipoetry.wordpress.com/

For Discussions on World Literature and Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi: http://worldliteratureandliterarycriticism.wordpress.com/

For Discussions of World History and World Civilization in Spiritus Mundi: https://worldhistoryandcivilizationspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Eva Strong from Spiritus Mundi: https://evasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Andreas Sarkozy from Spiritus Mundi: http://andreasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Yoriko Oe from Spiritus Mundi: http://yorikosblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Robert Sartorius from Spiritus Mundi: http://sartoriusblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

 

ON SPIRITUS MUNDI  

 

                             

“Read Robert Sheppard’s sprawling, supple novel, Spiritus Mundi, an epic story of global intrigue and sexual and spiritual revelation. Compelling characters, wisdom, insight, and beautiful depictions of locations all over the world will power you through the book. You’ll exit wishing the story lines would go on and on.” May 13, 2012

Robert McDowell, Editor, Writer, Marketer, Editorial Cra, The Nature of Words

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“Robert Sheppard’s novel, “Spiritus Mundi,” has everything. “Spiritus Mundi” is Latin, meaning “spirit” or “soul of the world.” According to the Norton Anthology of English Literature, the phrase refers to “the spirit or soul of the universe” with which all individual souls are connected through the “Great Memory.” This amazing novel is all inclusive and unceasingly riveting. If you are interested in politics, philosophy, human relationships, sex, intrigue, betrayal, poetry and even philosophy — buy and read “Spiritus Mundi”!”November 18, 2012

Raymond P. Keen, School Psychologist, Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DODDS)

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“Robert Sheppard’s new novel “Spiritus Mundi” is a new twist on a well-loved genre. Robert leaves no stone unturned in this compelling page turner you’ll experience mystery, suspense, thrills, and excitement. Robert touches on sexuality and spirituality in such a way that the reader is compelled to ask themselves “what would you do if faced with these trials?” Robert is a master at taking the reader out of their own lives and into the world he created. If you’re looking for a “can’t put down” read pick up Spiritus Mundi!” May 20, 2012

Nicole Breanne, Content Coordinator, Ranker.com
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“Longing for a thrilling experience of the sexual and spiritual world? Expecting a thorough summoning of your inner heart? Aspiring to find an extraordinary voice to enlighten your understanding heart? Then you can’t miss this extraordinary novel, Spiritus Mundi by Robert Sheppard. The author will spirit you into a exciting world filled with fantasy, myth, conflicts and wisdom from a fresh perspective. Don’t hesitate, just turn to the 1st page and start out enjoying this marvellous journey.”November 17, 2012

Alina Mu Liu, Official Interpreter, Editor & Translator, HM Courts & Tribunal Service, London UK & the United Nations

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“Robert Sheppard’s Spiritus Mundi is a literary novel for those with an extensive vocabulary, and who believe how you tell a story is as important as what occurs in it. It is as current as today’s headlines.

Jaime Martinez-Tolentino, Writer” November 19, 2012

 

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“Robert Sheppard’s exciting new novel, Spiritus Mundi, is an unforgettable read and epic journey of high adventure and self-discovery across the scarred landscape of the modern world and into the mysteries beyond. Its compelling saga reveals the sexual and spiritual lives of struggling global protesters and idealists overcoming despair, nuclear terrorism, espionage and a threatened World War III to bring the world together from the brink of destruction with a revolutionary United Nations Parliamentary Assembly and spiritual rebirth. This modern epic is a must read and compelling vision of the future for all Citizens of the Modern World and a beacon of hope pointing us all towards a better world struggling against all odds to be born.” May 19, 2012

Lara Biyuts, Reviewer and Blogger at Goodreads.com and Revue Blanche

 

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“Robert Sheppard’s “Spiritus Mundi” is a book of major importance and depth. A must read for any thinking, compassionate human being living in these perilous times. I highly recommend this powerful testament of the current course of our so-called life on his planet. April 25, 2012

Doug Draime Writer, Freelance

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“This new novel ‘Spiritus Mundi’ brings together history, politics, future society, and blends with a plausible World War Three scenario. I have read it and find it over the top fascinating. I am very glad to see Robert share his creativity with the world through this work of fiction, and know it will be a huge hit.” April 28, 2012

Jim Rogers, Owner and Director, AXL

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“Robert Sheppard is an exceptional thinker! His work should be read and made the subject of critical study.”May 26, 2012

Georgia Banks-Martin, Editor, New Mirage Journal

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“This novel rocks the reader with its supple strength. You want to say “No, No,” and you end up saying, “Maybe.” Political science fiction at its highest, most memorable level.”November 17, 2012

Carl Macki, Owner, Carl Macki Social Media

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 “Robert Sheppard’s Novel Spiritus Mundi confronts politics and philosophies of the world. He’s examined multiple layers of personality in his characters; male, female, Chinese, Arab, English, and American melding them into a story of possible outcomes. How else can I convey the intelligent presentation of fiction woven with sensitivity to our world’s governments, religious influences and sectarian principles? We must not forget the influence of a largely secular world. Robert tirelessly checked, rechecked and triple checked his resources in order to bring a fiction of occurrence, and psychological impact as set forth in his novel Spiritus Mundi.”November 18, 2012

Glenda Fralin, Author, Organization NWG

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“Robert was one of my best guests. His novel is as wide ranging as are his interests and expertise. He can explain his various ideas with great clarity and he does this with compassion. Novel is worthwhile reading.”November 18, 2012

Dr. Robert Rose, Radio Show Host, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/icdrrose

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I write to introduce to your attention my double novel Spiritus Mundi, consisting of Spiritus Mundi, the Novel—Book I, and Spiritus Mundi, the Romance—Book II. Book I’s espionage-terror-political-religious thriller-action criss-crosses the globe from Beijing to London to Washington, Mexico City and Jerusalem presenting a vast panorama of the contemporary international world, including compelling action, deep and realistic characters and surreal adventures, while Book II dialates the setting and scope into a fantasy (though still rooted in the real) adventure where the protagonists embark on a quest to the realms of Middle Earth and its Crystal Bead Game and through a wormhole to the Council of the Immortals in the Amphitheater in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy in search of the crucial Silmaril Crystal, and to plead for the continuance of the human race in the face of threatened extinction from a nuclear World War III, all followed by a triple-somersault thriller ending in which a common garden-variety terrorist attack is first uncovered by MI6 and the CIA as the opening gambit a Greatpower Game of States threatening World War III and then, incredibly, as the nexus of a Time Travel conspiracy involving an attempt by fascist forces of the 23rd Century to alter a benign World History by a time-travelling raid on their past and our present to provoke that World War III, foiled by the heroic efforts of the democratic 23rd Century world government, the Senate of the United States of Earth, to hunt down the fascist interlopers before their history is irrevocably altered for evil.

When activist Robert Sartorius, leading a global campaign to create a European Parliament-style world-wide United Nations Parliamentary Assembly presses the proposal in New York on his old friend the UN Secretary-General and is rebuffed due to the hostile pressure of the conservative American administration, his Committee resolves to fight back by launching a celebrity-driven Bono-Geldof-Band Aid/Live 8-style “People Power” media campaign and telethon spearheaded by rock superstars Isis and Osiris and former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to mobilize global public support and pressure in alliance with the Occupy Wall Street Movements worldwide. The Blogs of Sartorius, activist Eva Strong and Committee Chairman Andreas Sarkozy reveal the campaign’s working struggle, their tangled love affairs, a loss of faith, attempted suicide, reconciliation of father and son after divorce, and recovery of personal love and faith.

Things fall apart as the idealists’ global crusade is infiltrated by a cell of jihadist terrorists using it as a cover, then counter-infiltrated by CIA agent Jack McKinsey and British MI6 agent Etienne Dearlove. A cat-and-mouse game of espionage and intrigue ensues pitting them against the Chinese MSS espionage network allied with the Iranian Quds Force crossing Beijing, London, Moscow, Washington and Jerusalem unleashing an uncontrollable series of events which sees the American Olympic Track and Field Team bombed on an airplane in London, uncovers a secret conspiracy of China, Russia and Iran to jointly seize the oil reserves of the Middle-East, and witnesses Presidents Clinton and Carter taken hostage with Sartorius, McKinsey, Eva and other activists at a Jerusalem telethon rally cut short by the explosion of a concealed atomic device in a loaned Chinese Terracotta Warrior, then flown by capturing terrorists to Qom, Iran as “human shields” to deter a retaliatory nuclear attack.

In Book II, Spiritus Mundi, the Romance they encounter Iran’s Supreme Leader in Qom as the world teeters on the brink of nuclear confrontation and World War III, while mysterious events unfold leading Sartorius and McKinsey from their captivity in the underground nuclear facilities of Qom into a hidden neo-mythic dimension that takes them to a vast ocean and land at the center of the world, Middle Earth, Inner Shambhala, and to involvement in a mysterious Castalian “Crystal Bead Game” linked to the destiny of the human race on earth. They then embark on a quest for the Silmaril, or Missing Seed Crystal to the central island of Omphalos in the Great Central Sea in the middle of the globe, aided by Goethe, the Chinese Monkey King, Captain Nemo, the African God-Hero Ogun, and a Sufi mystic they traverse a ‘wormhole’ at the center of the earth guarded by ‘The Mothers’ and the fallen angel tribe of the Grigori (Genesis 6:1-4) which leads the way to critical meeting of the “Council of the Immortals” at the Black Hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy to determine the final fate of the human species. The heroes battle and overcome the treacherous opposition of Mephisto and his satanic subaltern Mundus through their Underworld and Otherworld adventures and successfully plead the cause of the continuation of the human species before the Immortals, returning with the critical Silmaril Crystal, resolving the Crystal Bead Game and thereby inspiring through the Archangel Gabriel a dream in the mind of Iran’s Supreme Leader which brings a new Revelation causing him to release the hostages and an end the crisis. China and Russia stand down from aiding Iran in seizing the Mid-East oil reserves, but in a treacherous blow the Chinese instead utilize their forward-positioned armies to attack their former ally Russia and seize Siberia with its large oil and gas reserves instead. President Barret Osama, America’s newly-elected first black President then invites Russia, Japan and South Korea to join NATO and together they succeed in expelling the Chinese from Siberia and usher in a new Eurasian and global balance of power and a New World Order.

Rock Superstar Osiris meanwhile, after undertaking a narcissistic Messianic mission in the wake of the Jerusalem atomic blast is dramatically assassinated on live world-wide television on Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa by a disillusioned follower. His wife and rock-star partner Isis then leads a spiritual movement to reconcile and unite the clashing religions and catalyze a common global spiritual Renaissance through a Global Progressive Spiritual Alliance which seeks to construct an Inter-faith Temple on the ruins of the atomic blast in Jerusalem. In counter-reaction to the cataclysmic events the world finally implements Sartorius’ crusade for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, but not before Sartorius has himself has died, Moses-like of a heart attack while helping to foil a metaconspiracy mediated by Time Travel in which a fascist agent from the 23rd Century who has time-transited back to our time to alter a benign history by causing WWIII and thus preventing the evolution of a democratic world government, the United States of Earth, which follows him through time and nabs him just in the “nick of time” to prevent Aramgeddon. The book ends with the opening ceremony of the UN Parliamentary Assembly which is attended in Sartorius’ name by his widow Eva Strong, whom Sartorius had fallen in love with and married in the course of the novel, and by their son Euphy, newborn after Sartorius’ death. They are joined in cinematic climax at the ceremony by newly chosen UN Secretary-General Clinton, President Osama and UN Parliamentary Assembly Committee Chairman Andreas Sarkozy who have just received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in creation of the world’s first world parliamentary assembly within the United Nations, bringing together the representative voices of the peoples of the world in face-to-face assembly and dialogue for the first time in world history.

Highlights:

All the Highlights of the novel cannot be contained in such a short Introduction, but a few of them would include:

1. Spiritus Mundi is the first novel in world history to portray the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assemblyon the working model, inter alia, of the European Parliament and the first novel to portray the Occupy Wall Street Movement and related movements worldwide;

2. Spiritus Mundi is a prophetic geo-political WWIII novel of the near future forseeing a conflict and conspiratorial surprise attack by a resurgent “Axis” of China, Russia and Iran seeking by a decisive blow in jointly seizing the Middle-East oil fields to radically alter the global balance of power vis-a-vis the West in the world and Eurasia. Like Clancy’s The Bear and the Dragon, it forsees the inclusion of Russia in NATO, and goes far beyond in forseeing the inclusion of South Korea and Japan, following a joint Chinese-Russian occupation of a collapsing North Korea and the Axis strike at the Middle-Eastern oil fields;

3. Spiritus Mundi is an exciting espionage thriller involving the American CIA. British MI6, the Chinese MSS, or Ministry of State Security and the Russian SVR contending in a deul of intrigue and espionage;

4. Spiritus Mundi is a Spellbinding Terrorism/Counterterrorism novel involving a global plot to conceal an atomic bomb in a Chinese Teracotta Warrior to be detonated in Jerusalem;

5. Features the romantic and sexual searching and encounters of dozens of idealist activists, rock-stars, CIA and MI6 agents, public-relations spinmeisters and billionaires with a detour into the bi-sexual and gay scenes of Beijing, New York, California, London and Tokyo:

6. Establishes and grounds the new genre of the Global Novel written in Global English, the international language of the world,

7. Spiritus Mundi is a novel of Spiritual Searching featuring the religious searching of Sufi mystic Mohammad ala Rushdie, as well as the loss of faith, depression, attempted suicide and recovery of faith in life of protagonist Sartorius. Follows bogus religious cult leaders and the Messiah-Complex megalomanic-narcissistic mission of rock superstar Osiris that leads to his dramatic assassination on worldwide television in Jerusalem, followed by the religious conversion of his wife and rock-star parner Isis;

8. Features the search for love and sexual fulfillment of Eva Strong, a deeply and realistically portrayed divorced single mother involved in the United Nations campaign, who reveals her tortured heart and soul in her Blog throughout several disastrous sexual affairs and ultimately through her final attainment of love and marriage to Sartorius;

9. Features Sartorius’ experience of a bitter divorce, alienation and reconciliation with his son, his loss of faith and attempted suicide, his battle against drugs and alcoholism, his surreal and sexual adventures in Mexico City, and his subsequent redeeming love and marriage to Eva Strong;

10. Contains the in–depth literary conversations of Sartorius and his best friend, Literature Nobel Laureate Günther Gross, as they conduct worldwide interviews and research for at book they are jointly writing on the emergence of the new institution of World Literature, building on Goethe’s original concept of “Weltliteratur” and its foundations and contributions from all the world’s traditions and cultures;

11. Predicts the emergence of the institution and quest of “The Great Global Novel” as a successor to the prior quest after “The Great American Novel” in the newer age of the globalization of literature in Global English and generally;

12. Features the cross-cultural experiences and search for roots, sexual and spiritual fulfillment and authenticity of Asian-American character Jennie Zheng, and Pari Kasiwar of India;

13. For the first time incorporates in the dramatic narrative flow of action the mythic traditions of all the cultures and literatures of the world, including such figures as Goethe, The Chinese Monkey King, the African God-Hero Ogun, surreal adventures in the ‘Theatro Magico’ in Mexico City bringing to life figures from the Mayan-Aztec Popul Vuh, Hanuman from the Indian classic the Ramayana, and many more;

14. Book Two, Spiritus Mundi, the Romance is a fantastic Fantasy, Myth and Magical Realism Rollercoaster Ride: The more mythic Book Two utilizes a Wellsian motif of Time Travel to explore the making of history and its attempted unmaking (a la Terminator) by a hositile raid from the future on the past, our present, and the foiling of the fascist attempt by an alliance of men and women of goodwill and courage from past, present and future generations united in a Commonwealth of Human Destiny; Like Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day and Welles’ Journey to the Center of the Earth it involves a journey to an interior realm of the “Middle Earth;” it also contains a futuristic travel through a wormhole to the center of our Milky Way Galaxy for a meeting with the “Council of the Immortals” where the fate of the human race will be decided;

15. Is a fantastic read on a roller-coaster ride of high adventure and self-exploration!

C  Copyright 2013  Robert Sheppard  All Rights Reserved

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About robertalexandersheppard

Robert Sheppard , Author, Poet & Novelist Pushcart Prize fof Literature 2014 Nominee Professor of World and Comparative Literature Professor of International Law Senior Associate, Committee for a Democratic United Nations (KDUN) E-mail: rsheppard99_2000@yahoo.com Robert Sheppard is the author of the acclaimed dual novel Spiritus Mundi, nominated for the prestigious 2014 Pushcart Prize for Literature in two parts, Spiritus Mundi the Novel, Book I and Spiritus Mundi the Romance, Book II. The acclaimed “global novel” features espionage-terror-political-religious-thriller action criss-crossing the contemporary world involving MI6, the CIA and Chinese MSS Intelligence as well as a "People Power" campaign to establish a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly on the model of the European Parliament, with action moving from Beijing to London to Washington, Mexico City and Jerusalem while presenting a vast panorama of the contemporary international world, including compelling action and surreal adventures. It also contains the unfolding sexual, romantic and family relationships of many of its principal and secondary characters, and a significant dimension of spiritual searching through "The Varieties of Religious Experience." It contains also significant discussions of World Literature, including Chinese, Indian, Western and American literature, and like Joyce's Ulysses, it incorposates a vast array of stylistic approaches as the story unfolds. Dr. Sheppard presently serves as a Professor of International Law and World Literature at Peking University, Northeastern University and the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China, and has previously served as a Professor of International Law and MBA professor at Tsinghua University, Renmin People’s University, the China University of Politics and Law and at the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, China. Having studied Law, Comparative Literature and politics at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph. D.Program in Comparative Literature), Northridge, Tübingen, Heidelberg, the People’s College and San Francisco, (BA, MA, JD), he additionally has been active as professor of International Trade, Private International Law, and Public International Law from 1993 to 1998 at Xiamen University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Graduate School (CASS), and the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Since 2000 he has served as a Senior Consultant to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Beijing and has authored numerous papers on the democratic reform of the United Nations system.
This entry was posted in A, Achebe, African & World Literature, African Culture, African Literature, African Tradition, African Union, African Writers, Aimee Cesaire, Archetypes, Archetypes in Literature, Ba, Best New American Novels, Best New American Voices, Best New American Writers and Novelists, Best New Contemporary Political Novels, Best New English Novels, Best New Epic Novels, Best New Fantasy Novels, Best New Futurist Novels, Best New Global Novels, Best New Literary Novels, Best New Myth Novels, Best New Novel of the Year, Best New Novels of Ideas, Best New Political Novels, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Chinua Achebe, Coetzee, Comparative Literature, Cosmopolitan Civilization, Dionysian, English Language, Evolutionary Biology, Globalization, Globalization of Literature, Greek Tragedy, Kofi Anan, Leopold Senghor, Literary Theory, Nadine Gordimer, Negritude, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Nietzsche, Nietzsche Birth of Tragedy, Obatala, Ogun, Orature and Literature, Pan-African Parliament, Pieter Verhoven, Post-Colonial Literary Theory, Post-Colonial Theory, Post-Colonialism, Religion, Religion and Evolutionary Biology, Religion and Society, Robert Sartorius, Robert Sheppard, Spiritus Mundi Novel by Robert Sheppard, T.S. Eliot, The Apollinian an Dionysian in Literature, The Promethian in Literature, The Transformational in Literature, Tradition and the Individual Talent, Uncategorized, United Nations, United Nations Parlamentary Assembly, United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, Universal Archetypes, Universal Civilization, V.S Naipaul, Vernacular Literature, Western Civilization and African Civilization, Wole Obatala, Wole Soyinka, World and Comparative Literature, World Civilization, World Literature, Writer Interview, Yoruba Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to ON AFRICAN LITERATURE & WORLD LITERATURE–A DIALOGUE FROM SPIRITUS MUNDI, NOVEL BY ROBERT SHEPPARD

  1. bonniebaby61 says:

    Robert, I am really enjoying reading your blogs. Thank you for letting me know when a new one appears. All best, Bonnie Roberts

    On Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 7:55 PM, Robert Sheppard Literary Blog wrote:

    > ** > robertalexandersheppard posted: ” Note: The following is a Dialogue on > African Literature and World Literature taking place in Midrand, South > Africa, the site of the meeting of the Pan-African Parliament of the > African Union (AU), amoung several renown African Writers, Scholars and > activ”

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