The Spirit and The Word: A Theory of Spirituality

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Utilizing a method informed by the ideas and worldview of Ifa, an ancient African spiritual system, to unlock deeper levels of meaning in the writings of African peoples, literary scholar Georgene Bess Montgomery presents a powerful new way of reading Africana literary texts. Through the use of what she terms the Ifa paradigm, Bess Montgomery examines ways in which the Orisa, the ancestors, colors, numbers, conjurers, conjuring, divination, initiation, ritual, and magic are manifested in Caribbean and African American literary texts--and demonstrate how to identify and decode signs and symbols that are central to Ifa located in the texts. She cogently argues that while diasporic Africans have generally been cut off from their memories of an African past and heritage, there still exists a recognition of certain images, symbols, and ideas. Consequently, diasporic Africans subscribe, knowing or otherwise, to a worldview influenced by African cultural and spiritual approaches to existence. From this perspective, The Spirit and the Word analyzes Puerto Rican Rosario Ferre s The Youngest Doll, Grenadian Merle Collins Angel, Martinican-born Edouard Glissant s The Ripening, Arthur Flowers Another Good Loving Blues, and Tina McElroy Ansa s Baby of the Family, thereby providing her readers with an entirely new way of reading Africana literary texts.