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“Truth,” Silence, and Ex-Centric Expression in Miguel Angel Asturias’s El Señor Presidente and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow

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Title: “Truth,” Silence, and Ex-Centric Expression in Miguel Angel Asturias’s El Señor Presidente and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow
Author: Weisman, Simone Aliya
Department: Bi-College (Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges). Comparative Literature Program
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: My thesis is a study of Miguel Asturias's El Señor Presidente and Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Wizard of the Crow. I focus on their presentations of two discursive systems in the context of postcolonial dictatorships: degenerative language that emanates from the dictatorial center and restorative expressions that emanate mostly from characters on the periphery of hegemonic power. I examine how the center of power in each text manufactures “truth” as well as generates silences, and I consider how the “ex-centric” language of characters works as a narrative form of resistance within larger texts whose writing styles in themselves subvert hegemonic representational regimes. While acknowledging a significant difference between the counter–hegemonic expressions within Asturias’s text and those within Thiong’o’s text, I explore how characters’ dissident testimonies and oral narrations generate what Stephen Slemon calls “positive imaginative reconstructions of reality.” I also explore the intervention of these symbolic reconstructions within real social spaces in the novels to “change the face” of sociopolitical realities. Both novels tell the story of a postcolonial community’s disfigurement by totalitarian linguistic distortions and silences, but El Señor Presidente is tragic and Wizard of the Crow comedic. The collaborative and imaginative linguistic “reconstructions of reality” that Thiong’o’s characters generate are more positive and revitalizing than the limited stories, testimonies, and reflections of Asturias’s characters. Reviving and cultivating new oral modes of identity construction rooted in life–giving wisdom about interconnectedness, Thiong’o’s dissident characters steer the body politic away from the shame, greed, and self–hatred that lead to the misuse of language.
Subject: Asturias, Miguel Angel. Señor presidente
Subject: Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, 1938- -- Criticism and interpretation
Subject: Reality in literature
Subject: Asturias, Miguel Angel -- Criticism and interpretation
Subject: Dictators in literature
Subject: Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, 1938- Mũrogi wa Kagogo
Terms of Use: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/7402

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Citation

Weisman, Simone Aliya. "“Truth,” Silence, and Ex-Centric Expression in Miguel Angel Asturias’s El Señor Presidente and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow". 2011. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/7402.

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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/ Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/

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