Ideology in Four Ethiopian Novels in English

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Addis Ababa University


The objective of this study is to explore and analyse general, authorial and aesthetic ideologies as reflected in four Ethiopian novels in English - Dagnachew’s The Thirteenth Sun, Sahles Silassie’s Firebrands, Nega Mezlekia’s The God Who Begat a Jackal, and Maaza Mengiste’s Beneath the Lion’s Gaze. Qualitative literary analysis based on mainly Marxist literary perspective has been used to analyze the ideologies in the novels. Althusser’s Ideology and Ideological State apparatus, Gramsci’s hegemony, and Foucault’s idea of power, discourse and knowledge and van Dijk’s concept of ideology and discourse have been used to approach the general ideologies and their reproduction as reflected in the novels selected. All the novels analyzed satirize the contradicting ideologies and their reproductions in different epochs. It was found out that religious, familial, academic social/power relations and media and cultural practices played a great role in the reproduction/discourses of the contradicting ideologies in the novels selected. All the novels under study are Marxist-oriented literary texts; and they reflect economic conditions, class formation and resistance done for social transformation. They satirize the base and superstructure; they reflect how the ruling feudal class used the land, exploited the society, and used both the ideological state apparatuses (ISAs) and repressive state apparatuses (RSAs) to reproduce its feudal class ideology. Maaza’s novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, reflects also the reproduction of contradicting ideologies that existed during the reign of the Military Rule, Dergue, in addition to its reflection of the social realities in the reign of the monarchy. The novels analyzed also satirize organic intellectuals’ discourses of resistance. It has been found out that all the novels analyzed are realist literary works though Daniachew’s The Thirteenth Sun and Nega’s The God who Begat a Jackal share some features of modernist and postmodernist modes of literary writings respectively in their form. All the novels have also been found committed to the cause of the organic intellectuals; and this is confirmed in the authorial ideology of each novel analyzed.