'Still in the Woods': a Stylistic Reading of Osundare’s Essays
Most stylistic investigations in literature have dwelt on the analysis of the major literary genres – poetry, drama and prose-fiction - which enjoy wide readership from the public and frequent patronage from stylisticians. However, essay, though a sub-genre and medium by which other genres of writing, art, and culture are interpreted, has not been accorded much critical attention from stylistics perspective. This paper examines the choice of linguistic features deployed in the selected essays of Niyi Osundare and how they enhance his precision in expressing meaning, aesthetics and appeal of the texts. The data comprise of six essays selected from Dialogue with my country. The analysis is informed by Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL)’s approach to phonology, grammar, and lexico-semantics. Findings reveal that Osundare employs the resources of language in a special way to create meaning, project life and culture, communicate truth, and express the beauty of art. Sound elements such as alliterative structures are deployed to achieve certain effects and create aesthetics appeal. Grammatical features such as the nominal and verbal groups as well as sentence types enhance the themes communicated while lexico-semantic features such as compound words, idiomatic expressions, and figurative tropes, etc., are deployed to clarify his thoughts and feelings. The linguistic choices employed identify and describe the author’s experiences and style, thereby enabling readers to comprehend his message and appreciate his linguistic creativity. The study does not only conclude that the linguistic manipulations in the selected texts show that Osundare is an innovative essayist who adopts a simple style, which is ideologically motivated in his presentation; it also submits that linguistic creativity is not exclusive to the domain of drama, poetry, and prose-fiction, but extends to their sub-genres.