Thursday, June 01, Violence — Festus Iyayi, reviewed by Tolase Latinwo The novel, Violence, revolves round the life of Idemudia, a poor, jobless man in his late twenties who faces hardship and struggles to make a living. The desperate need for Idemudia to fend for himself and his wife, Adisa, often pushes him to extremes such as selling his blood. Unfortunately, all he ever gets is temporary relief as poverty refuses to release its tight grip on him. When he gets a menial job as a labourer, he clutches onto it like a drowning man would straw only to work himself into a coma. Confined to his sick bed, life seems very unfair to Idemudia. Similarly, in her desperate bid to save her husband from the grip of death and offset the mounting hospital bill, Adisa commits adultery.

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It is so important in formalist criticism to examine the various devices which the author has indeed employed in narrating his story. From history, there has never been a piece of literature so loosely written without a touch of narrative technique.

The purpose of this paper then is to explore the various techniques employed by Iyayi in exposing the class conflict between the capitalists and the proletariat working class in Nigeria using the formalist literary approach. This paper concludes that the place of narrative techniques in literary criticism can never be over emphasized. Keywords: narrative technique, formalism, violence, literariness, literature, Festus Iyayi.

The concept of narrative technique in literature to the literary minded artist is like the breath we inhale. Its place in literary discourse can never be over emphasized.

Narrative technique brings out the artistry of any piece of work. Narrative technique refers to any specific, deliberate constructions of language which an author uses to convey meaning. Literary technique is a unique entity which is envisaged in utmost every piece of literary creation as against literary elements.

The author gains favour with the narratee by the use of technique. To further clarify the point Julie R. The forms of art are to be explained by their artistic immanence, not by real-life motivation. When an artist holds back the action of a novel, not by employing intruders, for example, but simply by transposing the order of the parts, he makes us aware of the aesthetic laws underlying both procedures of composition The sum total of the argument here is that the sjuzet - that is the way a story is organized incorporates the narrative technique used in a particular narrative.

Narrative technique means methods that writers use to give certain artistic and emotional effects to a story. It refers to the resources of language; the specific aspects of literature in the sense of its universal function as an art form that expresses ideas through language which we can recognize, identify, interpreter and analyze. This submission also accedes to the fact that narrative or literary techniques are the overall meaningfulness of a work of literature.

Narrative techniques then become the life-wire of any piece of literature to be regarded as artistry. The historians of literature have helped themselves to everything - environment, psychology, politics, philosophy. Instead of a science of literature they have worked up a concoction of homemade disciplines. They seem to have forgotten that those subjects pertain to their own fields of study - to the history of philosophy, the history of culture, psychology, and so on, and that those fields of study certainly may utilize literary monuments as documents of a defective and second-class variety among other materials qtd.

Thus, it is obviously paramount in creative writing as well as literary criticism the necessity of the comprehensive knowledge of literary technique.

Emphasis here is basically on the work itself, rather than on the social or historical contexts of a work. Proponents of the formalist approach include influential literary figures such as Boris Eichenbaum, Victor Shklovsky, Roman Jakobson and Jan Mukarovsky. They believe that the central meaning of a piece of work is discovered through a detailed analysis of the formal elements in the work instead of approaching it from the outside to consider issues whether historical, biographical, psychological or ideological Di Yanni Julie R.

Two movements in early twentieth-century thought helped move literary study away from this orientation. The first movement was the attempt on the part of philosophers of science like Edmund Husserl to isolate objects of knowledge in their unmixed purity.

For them, literature would be considered not as a window on the world but as something with specifically literary characteristics that make it literature as opposed to philosophy or sociology or biography. The manipulation of representational devices may create a semblance of reality and allow one to have the impression of gazing through glass, but it is the devices alone that produce that impression, and they alone are what makes literature literary.

More specifically, the Formalists were interested in analyzing literature into its component parts and in describing its principal devices and modes of operation 3. It main focus is on the techniques which the writer has harnessed together to achieve his creation. What smost to the formalist is how the work comes to mean what is does — how its resource of language are deployed by the author to convey meaning.

Implicit in the formalist perspective, moreover, is that readers can indeed determine the meaning of a literary work — that literature can be understood and its meaning clarified. This is because the experience so depicted was not so much that which the writer originally had and then communicated through language to the reader but rather was located in the work itself.

The Formalists were primarily oriented towards the form of literature. Hans Bertens Thus, from the above, it is understood that formalism expresses a vigorous, potent mode of literary discourse and analysis; a mode which calls for critical examination and reexamination of a literary work to arrive at what constitutes the literariness of the work.

However, Iyayi calls for a united effort on the side of the proletariat in fighting capitalism and the bourgeoisie, a fight which he continued until his death by motor accident. We shall critically examine their manifestations in the narrative.

A situation smeared with corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public fund. The dramatization and theatrical performance of the thematic statement of the author is heightened by the playlet in the novel.

It is an additional effect to the narrative. The language used in the novel is metaphorical. In the following statement, time is used metaphorically as an enemy of man: Time fattened the men as cows were fattened and then killed them off in the prime of their lives.

Time was the hard labour on the land, the malnutrition, the diseases, the ignorance, the poverty…Time was the cruelty and the bitterness into which these people were born and in which they ultimately died V. The picture here is very clear and indicting. We must leave. The technique enhances the holistic presentation of the reality of the predicament which the characters face. Darkness has taken on flesh to perform function strictly reserved for living things. This is foregrounding, this is literariness.

The author craftily engaged this device to relate to the narratee events that will occur in the future. The technique makes the awareness of impending happenings as clear as dawn to the reader. We see this through the dialogue between Idemudia and his wife Adisa. The dialogue signposts what is to come. In a polemical atmosphere Idemudia and his wife exchange conflicting views on the situation affecting the family.

The author exercises his craft here with great artistry. The diatribe between the husband and wife turn antagonist overnight because of their poverty. It goes thus: Adisa got up from the floor. Her voice was sharp and filled with hatred. You are not leaving this room. If you go out I am going out too. I am going to find some means to feed myself. Adisa replied defiantly.

Later in the novel because she has threatened to indulge in unholy affairs, her threat comes to pass as their pauperized condition makes her to commit adultery with Obofun. This is how prolepsis is shown in this novel as a useful device. The excerpt below demonstrates this: So he had gone home because there was nothing else he could do.

I can provide the cock and the tortoise. Your father must provide the goat… This incident takes place before the start of the story. Through it we are introduced to the stern, severe relationship between father and son and the acrimony that runs through the family.

Through the analepsis technique we are aware that Idemudia is from a polygamous family. This technique enables the reader to move to and fro in time and space. This is a technique through which readers get to know more or get a clearer picture or view and understanding of their characters on the pages of the novel.

This is vividly designated in the story. For instance: for Queen had a pair of neat legs, long and straight. Her back side was a landslide, her breasts heaved like a bunch of ripe oranges on an over weighted branch.

Her oval face ended in a small chin, her shifty eyes were half concealed by bushy and jet black eyelashes. Queen had a husky voice, as if she suffered from a sore throat Through this particular technique, a picturesque representation of Queen is presented.

This assists in a grand perception of the page-character both in characterization and critical discourse. The narrative voice is that of heterodiegetic narrator. This is also called the omniscient narrator. The narrator sees all and narrates all that he sees.

Since the narrator is outside the story, it becomes very easy for him to relate issues as they are without bias. The point is that Iyayi endowed his characters with an exaggerated super human moral probity. This is seen in Adisa. The author also endowed his characters with exaggeration in the relationship between the poor and the rich when Idemudia says that between the rich and the poor lies a gap that can only be bridged through physical and psychological violence.

Idemudia at this juncture reflects on the situational realities and blames his suffering on the societal violence. This is vividly portrayed from this speech that he makes: What kind of life is this? He cannot ask for higher wages, the period of his leisure is cut down arbitrarily and he must come out to work when he is told.

This was slavery; this was…violence V. This statement is exaggerated for the purpose of emphasis to make the living condition pitiable and more serious.

The diction used in the novel is simple. However, it may be high for an average reader. This is because some of the passages would require one to reflect critically to interact with what is happening in the society to be able to decode what the writer is talking about.

The author used humour in the novel to create laughter in the face serious social problems. The narrator relates: the tax collectors and policemen are in the village…they are arresting anybody who has not paid his tax… what shall we do?


Festus Iyayi and Narrative Techniques: A Formalist Reading of Violence

It is so important in formalist criticism to examine the various devices which the author has indeed employed in narrating his story. From history, there has never been a piece of literature so loosely written without a touch of narrative technique. The purpose of this paper then is to explore the various techniques employed by Iyayi in exposing the class conflict between the capitalists and the proletariat working class in Nigeria using the formalist literary approach. This paper concludes that the place of narrative techniques in literary criticism can never be over emphasized.


Festus Iyayi

July 14, Hello peeps, how has the month been? I have decided to take the bull by the horns and do it anyways. Where do I start? The storyline spans roughly weeks, my guess being right. The plot revolves basically around two couples, one affluent and the other poverty stricken. The story tells of the things that being poor can make one do and things that the affluent can use to lure the poor as well.


This research aims to know how classism and economical alienation affects social oppresion in the story. In many stories, either actual stories or fiction highlighting poverty as the main problem, classism is indeed the first factor to be the start of the problems. Underpayment, overloaded work, and overtime shift in the construction sometimes are identified as oppression, but not as social oppression. It means that workers are alienated from the wealth they worked to unfair, cheaper wage. Marx, again, stated that labor is external to the laborer that is, it is not part of his nature-and that the worker does not affirm himself in his work but denies himself, feels miserable and unhappy, develops no free physical and mental energy but mortifies his flesh and ruins his mind.

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