Helon Habila: Waiting for an Angel, Measuring Time and Oil on Water : Current School News

History in the Works of Helon Habila: Waiting for an Angel, Measuring Time and Oil on Water



History in the Works of Helon Habila: Waiting for an Angel, Measuring Time and Oil on Water.


Human reality has been one of the major concerns of literature. But human reality cannot be fully explored without history. However, history and literature have remained antithetical fields of study since we assume from the conventional notion of history as being all about the presentation of facts and literature, an untrue story.

This study builds from the existing studies which have recently established a relationship between history and literature; thereby finding the trappings of history in literature. This report seeks to unravel the representation of history in the works of Helon Habila (Waiting for an Angel, Measuring Time and Oil on Water).

It adopts New Historicism, an extrinsic theory that allows a study of literature from societal, historical and cultural perspectives. Thus, the literary texts are read parallel to the non-literary texts that stress similar historical issues and times as those captured in the literary texts.


Cover page: ————————————————————————– i
Title Page: —————————————————————————- ii
Approval Page: ———————————————————————- iii
Certification: ————————————————————————- iv
Dedication ………………………………………………………………… v
Acknowledgements: —————————————————————- vi
Abstract: —————————————————————————— vii
Table of Contents: —————————————————————— viii

CHAPTER ONE: General Introduction
1.1 Introduction: ——————————————————————– 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem: —————————————————- 3
1.3 Objective of the Study: ——————————————————– 4
1.4 Purpose of the Study: ———————————————————- 5
1.5 Significance of the Study: —————————————————– 5
1.6 Delimitation: ——————————————————————— 5
1.7 The Concept of History: ——————————————————– 6
1.8 The Relationship between History and Literature: ———————- 10

CHAPTER TWO: Literature Review
2.1 Review of Related Literature: ———————————————— 14

CHAPTER THREE: Theoretical Framework and Methodology
3.1 Theoretical Framework: ——————————————————- 29
3.2 Methodology: ——————————————————————– 38

CHAPTER FOUR: Trappings of History in Helon Habila’s Waiting for an Angel,
Measuring Time and Oil on Water
4.1 History and Literature: ——————————————————- 39
4.2 History as information: ——————————————————– 43
4.3 History as personalization of collective memory: ———————— 57
4.4 History as Instruction: ——————————————————— 71

CHAPTER FIVE: Summary and Conclusion
5.1 Summary: ———————————————————————— 77
5.2 Conclusion: ———————————————————————– 78
Works Cited: ————————————————————————– 80


The art of representation is inherent in the literary artist. He brings into play concepts, thoughts and themes that naturally connect the mind and invoke meaning. The literary artist, by way of representation, teaches, and this teaching in turn produces liveliest pleasure in him, as Aristotle observes in his Art Poetica. Representation becomes however essential to a literary artist for the dual roles it plays.

It brings to him delight on the one hand, and on the other hand, it educates him and those who have access to his work or oeuvre. By implication a literary artist, no doubt, has a broad spectrum of social reality, if he must be committed to his art and find satisfaction from it. The broad nature of his task may include the topical issues of his interest: representation of phenomenon (both social and natural) – abstract concepts, human beings, culture/history, etc.

More importantly, a literary artist begins his duty by involving himself in the reality around him, more often drawing useful material from the social issues of his time. As such, he engages himself with his past, his (vicarious and direct) experiences; not as a historian but as a philosopher, as Aristotle says, “to engage into the probable” (Art Poetica. James Ngugi is of the opinion that “the novelist is haunted by the sense of the past.

His work is often an attempt to come to terms with a thing that has been; has struggled, as it were, to sensitively register his encounter with history, and a novelist at best must feel himself heir to this continuous tradition”. Helon Habila the writer whose works form the subject of analysis in this study is equally preoccupied with the past and he recreates history in Waiting for an Angel, Measuring Time and Oil on Water.


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Criticism and Theory. Olaniyan, Tejumola and Quayson, Ato (ed.), Blackwell
Publishing: United Kingdom, 2012. Print.
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Time”, International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature. No.
1 Vol.4, 2012.
Anyokwu, Christopher. “Inheritance of loss: Narrative and history in Helon Habila’s
Measuring Time” California Linguistic Notes, Vol.33 No.2, 2008. Web:
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Aristotle. Aristotle on Art Poetry. (trans) Ingram Bywater (pref) Gilbert Murray.
Oxford: Clarendon Press , 1920. Print.
Baba-Ahmed, Hakeem. “Why Mandela was Angry with Nigeria” in The Guardian,
December 10, 2013. Print.
Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory.
Aberystwyth: Manchester University Press, 2002. Web: www.en.bookfi.org
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Jersey: Upper Saddle River, 2003. Print.
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Chung-Hsiung Lai. ‘Limits and Beyond: Greenblatt, new historicism and a Feminist
Geneology’, 2006. Web: google search.

CSN Team.



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