n South African Journal of Cultural History - A portrait of the Boer as an enemy : British juvenile literature and the Anglo-Boer war




Whenever we look at the way war is waged at the beginning of the XXI century, we cannot fail to notice the importance of the propaganda used to convince people of the righteousness of the cause defended by the propagandists. At the end of the XIX century, things were not really different: young British boys were the targets of the ideologists who aimed at promoting a consensual vision of the Empire through popular culture. Among the various media used to put foreward such imperialist ideas, juvenile literature, and more specifically novels, is the corpus which enables the historian of mentalities to understand the systems of representations which were induced in young boys' minds. Many themes were common to that type of literature, such as the death of the glorious and heroic British Tommy who dies to protect the boundaries of the Empire. Now that we are celebrating the anniversary of the conflict between the Britons and the Boers in South Africa, it is interesting to try and see how public opinion was manipulated at that time.

Wanneer die wyse van oorlogvoering aan die begin van die 21 eeu in oënskou geneem word, is die rol van propaganda om die saak van die oorlog te regverdig, baie opvallend. Aan die einde van die 19 eeu was die situasie baie dieselfde: jong Britse seuns was die slagoffers van die propagandiste wat 'n eenvormige beeld van die Britse Ryk deur middel van populêre kultuur wou versprei. Jeugliteratuur, en spesifiek romans, was een van die media wat daarvoor gebruik is. Dit stel die historikus vandag in staat om die metodiek van die propagandis wat die jong seuns wou beïnvloed, bloot te lê. Tipiese temas, soos byvoorbeeld die dood van die heroïese Britse Tommie wat sy lewe opoffer om die Britse Ryk te beskerm, is algemeen in dié soort literatuur aangetref. In hierdie tyd van die herdenking van die Anglo-Boereoorlog, is dit interessant om na te gaan hoe die openbare mening in daardie tyd gemanipuleer is.


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