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national allegory


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A type of narrative whose essential subject is the nation state. Because the life of a nation, large or small, exceeds the capacity of what any novel can actually accommodate, narrative fiction of this type uses allegory as a means of expressing a dimension of existence greater than that of the lives of its individual characters. National allegory tends to be focused on the lives of ordinary people, however, rather than heads of state or aristocracy, using their mundane daily struggles as a means of illustrating the state of the nation. First conceived by Fredric Jameson in his monograph on Wyndham Lewis, Fables of Aggression (1979), and developed further in an article entitled ‘Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism’ (1986), national allegory is a highly controversial concept and has been the subject of considerable debate, particularly in Postcolonial Studies. Jameson suggests that Sembène Ousmane's novel Xala (1974) is a perfect illustration of a national allegory because the predicament of its central characters can only be fully understood from the perspective of the nation. See also geopolitical aesthetic.

Further Reading:

A. Ahmad In Theory (1992).J. Beverley Subalternity and Repression: Arguments in Cultural Theory (1999).C. Irr and I. Buchanan (eds.)On Jameson (2006).I. Szeman Zones of Instability: Literature, Postcolonialism, and the Nation (2003).


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