Article

“Petro-Magic Realism”: Ben Okri’s Inflationary Modernism

Sarah L. Lincoln

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195338904
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195338904.013.0010

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 “Petro-Magic Realism”: Ben Okri’s Inflationary Modernism

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This article argues for a reading of Nigerian magical realism, epitomized in Ben Okri's 1988 collection Stars of the New Curfew, in terms of the country' experience of oil boom and inflationary bust during the 1970s and 1980s. Through a reading of the collection, which was composed during the worst of the inflationary “bust” that followed the collapse of world oil prices in the early 1980s, it indicates some of the ways in which the resulting material and psychic conditions manifested as a crisis of representation. Inflation in one sphere—monetized modern life—finds symptomatic expression in a second-order inflation, in the sphere of literary modernism. Okri's modernist mode is also a formal mechanism by which the author looks to memorialize the wasted bodies, social relations, landscapes, and dreams cast off in its wake.

Keywords: New Curfew; oil boom; modernism; inflation; literary modernism

Article.  9065 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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