Isidore Okpewho – an intellectual portrait
DOI link for Isidore Okpewho – an intellectual portrait
Isidore Okpewho – an intellectual portrait book
Isidore Okpewho first came to attention with the publication in 1979 of his first book, The Epic in Africa. This was in many ways a pathbreaking work, which established the existence of a long-standing epic tradition in Africa. Although previous studies had provided scattered indications of types of heroic poetry in Africa, there was still considerable uncertainty as to whether these forms could properly be regarded as constituting instances of the epic, as this term was understood in the Western tradition, designating the kind of long narrative poem exemplified by such consecrated works as the Iliad, the Aeneid or Paradise Lost. The doubts about the possibility of applying the term “epic” to instances of extended oral performances in Africa were given a particularly firm expression by Ruth Finnegan in her study Oral Literature in Africa. This short chapter articulates how Okpewho’s work constitutes a coherent and distinguished set of contributions in the establishment and marking out both of the boundaries and the issues that are central to the field of African oral literature.