Fiction as Reality: Reader-Response Criticism of the Selected Igbo Novels

Department: Igbo, African and Asian Language Studies
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

Igbo novels are great works of art which evolve from imaginative revelations of the past age, the present age or even the future age. Today, so many Igbo works of fiction are floating in the society as Igbo scholars’ strife to preserve the language through literary works. Yet, these works of fiction are not in any way cherished by some native speakers of the language or attract wide readership and appreciation, unlike the English novels. More so, the critical approaches that have commonly been applied in the appreciation of these great works of art have always been the traditional/sociological and formalistic approaches to literary criticism. One begins to wonder if the content of the text and approaches use to criticize them contributed to the problem of its poor appreciation or readership. The objectives of this study are therefore to acquaint people especially the Igbo with the knowledge that there is
truth about life wrapped up in Igbo fictions. Discovering this truth will give them more memorable insight into the problems associated with life. It is also necessary to encourage critics and authors to take into consideration the readers while writing and appreciating the Igbo novels. The researcher attained this goal by reviewing related literature. The methodology applied in this study is descriptive survey. The reader-response theory of literary appreciation was adopted. The findings of the research proved that paradoxically fiction is real and that the readers to some reasonable extent are the creation or production of the meaning of a text. A text is complete only when it is read and the reader contributes his part in synthesizing the gaps left in the narrative by the author. The writer therefore suggests that the reader-response criticism should be applied in the appreciation of Igbo novels (prose fiction).

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