When it comes to writing styles, African American literature is a very complex category of writing. It is made up of three main categories. These styles are romantic embrace, realistic appraisal, and shame-faced rejection. Each style illustrates the author's view of his or her history. European colonialism played a major role in how the writers viewed their past. The extremist categories are shame-faced rejection and romantic embrace.
The first class I will discuss is romantic embracement. The authors who fall into this category generally feel that there is a need for people to recapture and revitalize our past whether the past was positive or negative. A romanticist view usually tends to misguide or mislead people about what had really occurred. Romanticist writers tend to sugar-coat or emphasize all of the positive aspects of the past without telling us about all of the horrible events that might have occurred. An example of a romanticist is Senghor who wrote such stories as Negritude and Black Woman . Another term developed for romantic embracement was Negritude. This basically means the love of one's African past. As I had mentioned in my opening statement, colonialism had a great effect on the African past. Some even believe that because of colonialism all of the African history was wiped out and replaced with European history. Negritude writers agreed with this and thought that it didn't fully get rid of the history but it did sever it magnanimously. Another issue of romanticist writing is the image of Africa that is conveyed today. Chinweizu poses some very strong questions such as "Was our past one uninterrupted orgy of sensuality? One boring canvas of idyllic goodness, fraternity, and harmony? Were our ancestors a parade of plaster saints who never…struck a blow or hurt a fly, and who suffered all psychic and physical pain gladly and cheerfully, or never suffered at all?" The problem with romantic embrace writers is that they show readers a very byes view of history. By reading novels and novellas by Negritude writers we will never truly know the truth of African past.
The other extremist view incorporated in African literature is shame-faced rejection. This view of history is the total opposite of romantic embracement. It gives readers the idea that there were no positive aspects to African history. These authors go on to say that the past is filled with slavery, abuse of the African people, and showed them as animalistic beings who did not deserve the name human. Shame-faced rejection writers believed that colonialism lifted the educational gap. These writers adopted European ways of life and traditions and left their African past behind. These writers include Wole Soyinka who was a Nigerian playwright and novelist who wrote Myth, Literature, and the African World. In the wise words of Soyinka he states that "the tiger does not stalk about crying his tigritude." This quote basically means that the African people do not want to show off their past.
The writers' viewpoint which emphasizes the midpoint of the mentioned extremes is called realistic appraisal. This view did neither spread the greatness of Negritude nor did it fail to recognize the praiseworthy aspects. These writers include Chinweizu who wrote The African Writer and the African Past and Chinua Achebe. These writers see African history as any era of culture filled with great and shameful aspects. These writers feel that we should adopt desirable features from our history and combine them with our modern day aspects. Achebe said it best when he said" It is essential to educate those who do not know about the existence of African Literature, even in the 20th century." He meant that even though that part of history was a long time ago is it still important to grasp who had occurred and learn from the mistakes made.
In conclusion all Africans have both Ariel and Caliban tendencies and no one escapes colonialism. For the most part all people have mixed opinions about the outcome of colonialism and are entitled to them. I feel that these categories fully recognize the styles of each African author. Their view of the past is reflected in their styles of writing and their state of mind.