Document Type

Review

Date of this Version

1980

Publication Source

African Journal

Volume

11

Start Page

68

Last Page

70

Abstract

When Ruth Finnegan published her book Oral Literature in Africa (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1970), out of five hundred and fifty-eight pages she devoted only two and half pages to the epic, and even these were negative. "All in all," she wrote, "epic poetry does not seem to be a typical African form. . . .Certain elements of epic also come into many other forms of poetry and prose. But in general terms and apart from Islamic influences, epic seems to be of remarkably little significance in African oral literature, and the a priori assumption that epic is the natural form for many non-literate peoples turns out here to have little support" (p.110). While Finnegan's book was in general well-received, it was her relatively minor "Notes on the Epic" (pp. 108-110) that actually stirred controversy and stimulated discussion. The present study by Isidore Okpewho is the first book length response to Finnegan's challenge.1

Comments

The publication in which this review first appeared has since ceased.

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Date Posted: 22 September 2017