Saturday, May 25, 2013

Soyinkan Skewering

There are put-downs and then there are Soyinkan skewerings:
The saddest part for me was that this work was bound to give joy to sterile literary aspirants like Adewale Maja-Pearce, whose self-published book – self-respecting publishers having rejected his trash – sought to create a “tragedy” out of the relationships among the earlier named “pioneer quartet” and, with meanness aforethought, rubbish them all – [Wole Soyinka] especially. Chinua [Achebe] got off the lightest. A compendium of outright impudent lies, fish market gossip, unanchored attributions, trendy drivel and name dropping, this is a ghetto tract that tries to pass itself up as a product of research, and has actually succeeded in fooling at least one respectable scholar. For this reason alone, there will be more said, in another place, on that hatchet mission of an inept hustler.
Leaving aside the accuracy or propriety (or otherwise) of Soyinka's comments, the words with which he makes them are undoubtedly entertaining. They also illustrate his uniquely dense, verbose, prolix -- and highly effective -- style. This is interesting because the general advice to avoid bombastic language is good advice. Soyinka is one of the very few writers who has somehow managed to make a virtue of verbosity.

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