Origins are often obscure and beginnings easily forgotten. The first novel ever published by an African has, until now, been lost in rare book collections, unknown to scholars and public alike. Now reissued a century after its first publication, Joseph J. Walters's Guanya Pau can be reread in the context of a varied and vigorous African literature. Its subject and the author's outlook make it remarkably modern.
Guanya Pau deals with the desire of Guanya, an African princess, to escape a repulsive fate: betrothal to a wealthy man twenty years older than she. Worse, he is a polygamist, compensating for his own ugliness with the beauty of many wives. Guanya must combat his eagerness, her mother's wish, and a tribal tradition that is as entrenched as it is oppressive. When she cannot fight, she flees, encountering fierce anti-feminine practices everywhere she goes.
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The first book of long fiction by an African to be published in English, this novel tells the story of a young woman of the Vai people in Liberia. Guanya Pau, betrothed as a child to a much older, polygamous man, flees her home rather than be forced into marriage, and the novel recounts her subsequent efforts to reach the Christian community where the man she loves awaits her. Joseph Jeffrey Walters was a Vai man who converted to Christianity, and this, his only novel, is a remarkably complex work, embracing both Christian beliefs and a deep pride in his African heritage.
This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction that locates the novel in the context of Vai culture and the history of African missions, and a rich selection of historical documents relating to the education of African women, the Vai writing system, and the author’s life.About the Author:
Joseph J. Walters, a Vai born in Liberia in the 1860s, was first educated in Robertsport, Liberia. He continued his studies in the United States, earning a Bachelor of Arts at Oberlin College in 1893. He then returned to Liberia, where he died in 1934 of tuberculosis contracted when in the United States. Oyekan Owomoyela is the editor of A History of Twentieth-Century African Literatures (Nebraska 1993).
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Descrizione libro University of Nebraska Press, 1994. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria M0803247648