Reclaiming the Past: Restoration of Personal and Communal History in Petals of Blood

Open access


The implications of the colonialist discourse, which suggested that the colonized is a person “whose historical, physical, and metaphysical geography begins with European memory” (Thiong’o, 2009), urged postcolonial writers to correct these views by addressing the issues from their own perspectives. The themes of history and communal/national past thus play a prominent role in postcolonial literature as they are inevitably interwoven with the concept of communal identity. In Petals of Blood (1977), the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o explores the implications of social change as brought about by the political and economic development during the post-independence period. This paper seeks to examine the crucial relation between personal and communal/national history and relate it to the writer’s views of principal legacies of colonialism. As Thiong’o states: “My interest in the past is because of the present and there is no way to discuss the future or present separate from the past” (Thiong’o, 1975). Clearly, the grasping of the past and one’s identification with it seems fundamental in discussing national development. As Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s narratives are always situated in the realm of political and historical context, blending fiction with fact, this paper also aims to elaborate on the implications of his vision.

Ashcroft et al., (Eds.). The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. London/New York: Routledge, 2003. E-book.

Benjamin, Walter. Selected Writings. Volume 4. 1938-1940. Cambridge/London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003. Print.

Kessler, Kathy. “Rewriting History in Fiction: Elements of Postmodernism in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Later Novel.” Ariel. A Review of International English Literature. April 1994: 75-90. Print.

Klimková, Simona. “History and Fiction: Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o’s Vision”. Studia Anglica Resoviensia. 2015: 154-161. Print.

McLeod, John. Beginning Postcolonialism. Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press, 2000. Print.

Ogude, James. Ngugi’s Novels and African History. Narrating the Nation. London: Pluto Press, 1999. Print.

Rigal Cellard, Bernadette. “Plotting History: The Function of History in Native North American Literature.” Transatlantic Voices. Interpretations of Native North American Literature. Ed. Elvira Pulitano. Lincoln/London: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. 24-43. Print.

Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage Books, 1994. Print.

Sander, Reinhard and Bernth Lindfors, (Eds.). Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Speaks. Nairobi: James Currey Oxford, 2006. Print.

Thiong’o, Ngũgĩwa. Writers in Politics. London: Heinemann, 1981. Print.

Thiong’o, Ngũgĩwa. Petals of Blood. New York: Penguin Books, 2005. Print.

Walcott, Derek. What the Twilight Says. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998. Print.

Williams, Patrick. Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Contemporary World Writers. Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press, 1999. Print.

Prague Journal of English Studies

The Journal of Charles University, Faculty of Education

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 329 329 45
PDF Downloads 106 106 13