Proximate historiographies in Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Kintu

Keywords: historicism, historical novel, metahistoriographical fiction, proximity, Ugandan historical novel


Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s novel Kintu (2014) places alongside forms of historical fiction familiar to European readers, a form of historical causality that obeys a different logic, namely, one governed by the long-term efficacity of a curse uttered in pre-colonial Buganda. The novel can be read as a historiographical experiment. It sets in a relationship of ‘proximity’ linear historical narration as understood within the framework of European historicism and the genre of the historical novel theorised by Lukács, and notions of magical ‘verbal-incantatory’ and ‘somatic’ history that elude the logic of hegemonic European historicism but nonetheless cohabit the same fictional space. Makumbi’s novel thus sketches an ‘entanglement’ of various historical temporalities that are articulated upon one another within the capacious realm of fiction, thereby reinforcing a cosmic ontology and axiology of reciprocity and fluid duality whose infringement in fact triggers the curse at the origin of the narrative.


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Author Biography

Russell West-Pavlov, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany

Russell West-Pavlov is professor of Anglophone Literatures at the University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany, and research associate at the University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.


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How to Cite
West-PavlovR. (2021). Proximate historiographies in Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Kintu. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 58(1), 76-85.
Research articles