Libmonster ID: U.S.-1456
Author(s) of the publication: T. M. GAVRISTOVA

Modern literature of Nigeria is a continuation of ancient and medieval (Arabic and European), English, German, French, Russian classics. Among its founders were outstanding masters: Amos Tutuola and Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo and Wole Shojinka, Cyprian Ekvensi. They were followed by Kole Omotoso and Ben Okri, who established the fame of Nigerian literature within the boundaries of the professional community and the global readership.

"He never thought that I could be happy without him..."

Francoise Sagan

"The best way to understand women's issues is for women themselves, or at least for some of them."

Simone de Beauvoir

"Everyone wants success. Every..."

Buchi Emecheta


Doctor of Historical Sciences

P. G. Demidov Yaroslavl State University

Keywords: Nigeria, Buchi Emecheta, novel, feminism, postmodernism, African diaspora

The actualization of the African theme coincided with the parade of sovereignties on the continent. In 1960, which was declared the Year of Africa, 17 countries were freed from colonial dependence, including Nigeria, the largest in terms of population, which led to an interest in the continent, its history and culture.


The female substratum of Nigerian literature is represented by the names Flora Nwapa (1931-1993) and Buchi Emecheta (b.1944), well-known abroad and little known (due to the lack of translations into Russian) to Russian readers. For many, "they were like sisters"1. Both belong to the Igbo people, whose representatives have always been inclined to accumulate ideas and traditions, for which they were called African "Jews" (and "Japanese"), and were distinguished by a certain snobbery and ambition.

F. Nwapa has been called the" mother " of African literature. It was the first book to be published abroad. Her novel Efuru (1966) was the first novel in the history of Nigerian literature in English written by a woman. B. Emecheta has written more than two dozen novels. She is a writer and publisher, playwright and author of books for children. In 2014, she turned 70 years old. She has been writing for more than 40 years. However, none of her works have been translated into Russian.

Since the 1980s, Buchi Emechet has been ranked among the most widely read writers in the UK2. The writer has lived in London since 1962. she became the first and so far the only African-

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awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her great contribution to the development of British literature 3.

Her novels brought her fame: "In the Gutter" (1972); "Second-class Citizen" (1975); "Bride Price" (1976); "Slave Girl" (1977); " The Joys of Motherhood "(1979); then followed: "Gwendolen" (1989), "Family" (1990), " Kehinde"(1994), " New Tribe "(2000), etc. In part, all of them are documentary (these are stories of everyday life). Their characters-neighbors, co-workers: poor and rich, Africans and Pakistanis, affluent Jews; families with children; single mothers; abandoned wives; students; young girls experiencing alienation in a new environment; children forced to put up with difficulties; foster parents; immigrants-demonstrate the wonders of survival, winning the competition. the struggle with oneself and society, where the eternal is inferior to the momentary, and the spiritual-to the material.


The postmodern era contributed to the universalization of literary traditions. Representatives of different races, ethnicities, and cultures were integrated into the writing community.

The phenomenon of "women's literature" has emerged. Its boundaries are conditional, but, as a rule, are defined by a square: a woman is the author; a woman is the reader; a woman is the main character; the storyline is based on a woman's fate. Emancipation and feminism (end of "male censorship") They contributed to the fact that women writers found themselves in opposition to male writers, although, after J. P. Blavatsky, they were not able to do so. Derrida 4 and Zh. According to Baudrillard 5, postmodern aesthetics are considered "feminine" due to their characteristic reflection (hyperreflexion), coquettishness and performance hobbies.

B. Emechet's style is characterized by acting and acting, paradoxicality and the system of "double coding", designed for the mass and enlightened reader and typical of the traditions of postmodernism. However, unlike many other authors who are engaged and "promoted" by the media and glamorous publications, she is not inclined to turn creativity into "production". She wants to get pleasure from working on the text, from creating, and not from selling her works. She paints life as it is, but strives for the best (to the ideal). The inner monologues of her characters (her monologues), resulting in solos, give readers such samples of introspection and self-knowledge that, it seems, no one else could ever write like this - this is a direct projection of the temperament, the response of the "African princess" 6 to the challenge from mass culture.

The origins of Emechet's work are in her African past: "I grew up in Nigeria... In my novels, I always go back to Africa. I write about Africa for everyone. I write as I speak. 7. " When I sit down to write, I... think of Africa, Nigeria."8. Now she is looking back on her life and will soon present her autobiography-a story of personal and literary success.

Memories are always a journey into the past. However, the "paths" leading there are "destroyed". This is what her novel "The New Tribe"is all about9. Like her characters, Buchi tried to return to Nigeria, but there she felt like a stranger. London is a "contested territory"for her (she was born and raised in Lagos), and yet it is her home, where she feels safe and secure.

The postmodern situation dictates its own conditions. Africa becomes a simulacrum. Stereotypes dominate the perception of images (war, devastation, violence, blood, death; degradation of society, devaluation of culture; a sense of catastrophe, chaos). London is more real, but it is also a semblance; "guess space" 11 (rhizome; labyrinth). It is inhabited by black men and women, Nigerians (Igbo, Yoruba), Afro-Caribbean-almost always at odds with each other; "second-class citizens." Many are on the verge of survival. Women are the personification of strength and dignity. Men are the "weaker sex". They are lazy and selfish; ambitious and infantile; patriarchal and cruel. Neither their education nor their faith in God prevent them from exercising violence and despotism against women. Marriage is turning into a war of the sexes.


"In some ways, marriage is worse than slavery, "says the heroine of the story"The Slave". Emecheta refers this to her mother's marriage. Her father beat her regularly. My daughter also got hurt. The topic of violence has preoccupied Buchi for years. Society, in her opinion, is intolerant of women. The writer sees the path to freedom and independence in enlightenment and education. In her opinion, only they give a woman real freedom: "I say to all girls - learn. Education is your freedom. This is the case all over the world."12 But there is the usual inertia, laziness of mind: many immigrants are convinced that menial work is for blacks, and it is difficult to convince them that education opens the way to a career. It seems to her that West Indies are less interested in getting an education than Igbo and Yoruba people, who associate a university degree with the hope of success.

In Africa, critics persistently refer to Emechet's novels as "feminist" literature, accusing it of being committed to feminism. Buchi claims that you can't live in a world without men - "without sex"13. She refers to her novels as" African, not feminist literature " 14. The writer has repeatedly noted: "I follow what is happening and see everything through the eyes of an African woman. I watch the lives of women I know. However, I did not know that for this I would be called "African".-

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a true feminist." If I am a feminist, then only with a small letter " f "" 15.

According to Emechet, "Nigeria is a land of stories", and its "women were born storytellers" 16.Buchi's mother and mother-in-law knew many stories and willingly told them. These stories, tragic and comic, were passed down by women from generation to generation by word of mouth. Buchi listened to them as a girl and a married lady, even if no one else was interested in them.

Her story "The Slave Girl" is based on a story she heard from her mother. An adult son of rich parents demanded from a black woman (a former slave), bought as a child by his mother and released into the wild, 8 pounds, once paid for her. To make sure that this was true, that he was who he claimed to be, and that justice demanded that he repay the debt to his former mistress, she asked him to swear on the "Bible." He swore it. The former slave returned the money to him. A person suffering has capitulated to a person playing - a typical postmodern situation 17.


B. Emechet's early works can be considered mostly autobiographical. The plots are based on her personal story. Buchi was left without a father at an early age. He was a railway employee, a technician. The family lived in relative affluence. The daughter did not get along very well with her mother, although she loved her very much and suffered when she died. At school, the girl was an excellent student. Her abilities were noticed. She could have received a government scholarship at 18, but she was engaged at 18, married at 16, and had five children (Florence, Sylvester, Jake, Christy, and Ellis) in six years of marriage (1960 - 1966). She dedicated the book "Second-class Citizen"to them.

The biography of the writer is rich in events, her self-history is instructive (this is a success story). Emechet's autobiography is symbolically titled "Afloat" (1986). This is a confession of a victorious woman who has succeeded against the odds in fighting male and racial chauvinism, and at the same time a kind of manual on how to "conquer the world" ("West")19.

Buchi came to London very young, following her student husband, but found the strength to leave him: he cheated on her, forbade her to write, burned the manuscript of her first novel. Alone, with her children in her arms, in London, far from her family and friends, without means of support (her husband only allowed her to take some clothes), the young woman changed a lot of activities - she worked as a librarian at the British Museum (1965-1969), as a social worker, and at the same time studied. According to her, when she was young, she didn't even have a decent skirt to go to a meeting with a publisher. Early in the morning on weekends and weekdays, before the children woke up, she took four hours to write 20.

In 1972, she was awarded a Bachelor's degree with honours (in sociology); in 1991, she was awarded a PhD from the University of London. Writing for her "played the role of therapy (there was no one to talk to)... There was nowhere to wait for support... She learned to write by reading. Meetings with editors and publishers ended the same way. Initially, the question was who would read it... She was asked to collect everything written in a book, a novel turned out, and it was published... So she stepped "into the thrall of publishers... I didn't realize what it was until I was free of it...21. Then she became truly free. To publish, according to the contract, a novel a year was unbearable. Children demanded attention, and Buchi herself wanted to try out other areas. In the 1980s and 1990s, she taught in Nigeria (at the University of Calabar), in the United States (at the Universities of Yale and California), and in the United Kingdom (at the University of London).


B. Emechet's works are characterized by maternal intonations. The role functions of a mother mentor are initially aimed at educating the younger generation of readers, at their adaptation to a new social environment, and at overcoming difficulties. Like Quintilianus 22, a Roman educator and literary critic, the founder of the novel of education, the writer sets her characters the most difficult tasks-to survive, to win, and, as a rule, they achieve the goal. Everything she wrote, in fact, is similar to the novels of education of V. M. Goethe, G. Flaubert, C. Dickens, F. M. Dostoevsky.

Presence of historical and literary allusions (in the postmodern style)23 in her works is obvious. Ironic "quoting" of its predecessors (from the Old and New Testaments and W. Shakespeare to d. Austin and F. Sagan) is artfully veiled: the flickering of images ("In the Gutter", "Second-class Citizen"), the pluralism of languages ("Gwendolen", "Kehinde", "New Tribe"), paraphrase, periphrasis - in her arsenal. The game with the reader is conducted professionally and in a feminine way, forcing them to sympathize, empathize, admire, dragging them into the pool of a family or heroic story.

Teaching and instructing, the writer sincerely believes that "a mother creates her daughter's future with her own hands" 24, while the latter seeks freedom herself. Her characters ("daughters") are educated and independent, proud of their origin. The word "Motherland "means a lot to them, and above all to the most beloved 25 and unlike Buchi heroine - Debi Ogedembe - from the book" The Destination of Biafra " (1982). Equally important is the intention to realize oneself in work and creativity 26. A woman, in her opinion, should not choose between a family (husband, children, parents) and a career. They are compatible. However, if there are contradictions-

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Chiya, it's up to her to decide what's more important to her.

B. Emecheta is an example for many women: she is not a "second-class citizen" at all. Her image created in the media is far from the image of a female warrior (Debi), although she admires them. Buchi is a matron, a gorgeous lady (with good manners and a beautiful voice), she is a professional who knows her own value, a mother who has done everything for her children.

Its desire for creativity "brilliant" (as it is called by readers and admirers, writers and critics) Buchi explains simply, " I don't have a mission other than what I write. Let the world listen to me. Our women are more silent. Let them know that women also have a voice. " 27

Its self-sufficiency is admirable. She has a lot of friends. She also does not neglect male friendship. Her exquisitely decorated home in one of London's most exclusive neighborhoods is a testament to her wealth. There are a lot of books in the office, translations of her work into Italian, German and other languages. She wears traditional Igbo clothing and hairstyle (expensive), but London is "the promised heaven"for her. 28 In London, she says, women have "more freedom... You can live alone... You can have children... In England, women have more freedom than in Nigeria ... " 29.

When asked by one of the interviewers what helps raise children, Buchi answered:: "Mind and energy" 30. And then she clarified that she never regretted leaving her husband-he wouldn't let her write. With him, she would have had neither a good home, nor educated children, nor creative achievements, 31 nor cooperation with the British Council for the Arts (in the first half of the 1980s, together with her son Sylvester, she helped young artists), nor teaching at universities. She (who is admittedly a workaholic) believes that "only everyday work leads to success" and complains that she is "little known in Africa ... that African women have neither free time nor money, that they have no time to study, and therefore cannot read English." 32.

The personal space of the writer was formed for decades during her studies and teaching activities. Her environment - writers and publishers, journalists and artists, children - nourished her. In it, she drew themes for her books: "Nowhere to play" (1980), "Double Yoke" (1983), which, regardless of the genre, eventually acquired the features of not only confession (confession and repentance), but also sermons (proclamation and consolation).

The writer's commitment is beyond doubt. From time to time, however, she still asks herself the traditional question: who is she writing for? If there is "women's "literature, perhaps there is also "black" literature? What does a book written by a black author mean, for blacks, about blacks? "What is it about - drugs, prostitution?" And she finds the answer herself: "I don't know anything about it... historical, social, and women's stories are my thing. I can't do anything but write about it, and if anything happens, I'll just stop... " 33

1 Emerging Perspectives on B.Emecheta / Ed. by M. Umeh. Africa World Press, 1996. P. 451.

Stevens P. 2 Ripe for Promotion // Sunday Times Magazine. 12 February 1983. P. 30 - 33.


Derrida J. 4 Golos i fenomen i drugye raboty po teorii znaka Husserl'ya [Voice and Phenomenon and other works on the theory of Husserl's sign]. St. Petersburg, Aletheia Publ., 1999; ee-O grammatologii / Translated from French. and introductory article by N. Avtonomova, Ad Marginem, 2000; her own letter and difference / Translated from French and edited by V. Lapitsky. St. Petersburg, Academic Project Publ., 1999.

Baudrillard J. 5 In the shadow of the silent majority or the end of the social / Translated from French by N. V. Suslov. Yekaterinburg, Ural State University Publishing House, 2000; its Simulacra and simulation / Translated from French by O. A. Pechenkin. Tula, Tula polygraphist, 2013; his own Temptation / Translated from French by A. Garadzhi, M., Ad Marginem, 2000.

6 Emerging Perspectives on B.Emecheta... P. 447.

7 Ibidem.

8 Ibid. P. 450.

Emecheta B. 9 The New Tribe. Heinemann, Portsmouth, 2000.

Sizemore Ch.W. 10 The London Novels of Buchi Emecheta // Emerging Perspectives on B.Emecheta... P. 369.

Eco Name of the rose. St. Petersburg, Symposium Publ., 1999, p. 629.


Emecheta B. 13 Feminism with a small "f" // Criticism and Ideology. Second African Writers' Conference. Stockholm, 1986. P. 177.

Sizemore Ch.W. 14 Op. cit.

15 Ibid.

16 Emerging Perspectives on B.Emecheta... P. 448.

Zhuravlev S. 17 Postmodernism in literature - - 7ael-04fb-2def3d caf0e5/1010713A.htm

Brockman N. 18 An African Biographical Dictionary. Santa Barbara, California, Denver, Colorado, Oxford, England, 1994. P. 113.

19 Ibidem.

Emecheta B. 20 Head about Water. An Autobiography. Cambridge, 1988. P. 191.


22 Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (35-96) - Roman rhetorician (teacher of eloquence), author of "Instructions to the speaker" - the most complete textbook of oratory that has come down to us from antiquity. Quintilian is the author of the famous phrase: "Father, when you have a son, place great hopes on him, for great hopes give rise to great pedagogy."

Gavristova T. M. 23 African writers in search of identity // Bulletin of YarSU. Humanities series. 2012. N 3. pp. 177-190. (Gavristova T. M. 2012. Afrikanskie pisateli v poiskakh identichnosti / / Vestnik Yaroslavl universiteta. Gumanitarnye nauki. N 3) (in Russian); ee, same-Postmodern feminism: Transformation of reality (the experience of studying contemporary art in Africa) / / Asia and Africa Today. 2013. N 11. с. 74 - 77. (Gavristova T.M. 2013. Postmodernistskiy feminism: preobrazhenie realnosti // Asia i Afrika Segodnya. N 11) (in Russian)

Emecheta B. 24 The Joys of Motherhood. N. -Y., 1979. P. 47. 25 Emerging Perspectives on B.Emecheta... P. 448,

26 Ibid. P. 451.

27 Ibid. P. 449.

Emecheta B. 28 Second-class Citizen. Fontana/Collins, Glasgow, 1977. P. 8.

29 Emerging Perspectives on B.Emecheta... P. 381.

30 Ibid.


32 Emerging Perspectives on B.Emecheta... P. 448.



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