English in Africa - Volume 30, Issue 1, 2003
Volumes & issues
Volume 30, Issue 1, 2003
Author Anthony AkermanSource: English in Africa 30, pp 5 –20 (2003)More Less
Author Michael ChapmanSource: English in Africa 30, pp 21 –33 (2003)More Less
Has not all that need be said about Roy Campbell been said? To summarise, supporters of his vivid imagery ignore his conservative politics : art is regarded primarily as art. In contrast, politically driven criticism subsumes art under Campbell's rightish temperament. I have been involved in such quarrels : quarrels that have substance in South Africa where the categories of art and society are not easily disentangled. I found myself in the mid-1980s defending Campbell's art against the sociological imperative at the same time as justifying his oeuvre against my own distaste for his crasser utterances.
Author David MedalieSource: English in Africa 30, pp 35 –54 (2003)More Less
According to Michael Green, one of the offshoots of the "project [of] cultural reinvention" prompted by the end of apartheid and the "reconstruction ... of what 'South Africa' will mean" is the opportunity to reconsider the ways in which we think, in general terms, about South African literature; flowing from this, what Green urges in particular is the "the imagining anew of 'South African literary history'" (Green 1997, 5). The notion that a literary history is to be 'imagined' is appealing, for it suggests that the construing of such a history (or histories) may be a creative, dynamic process. In the formation of canons and literary histories there will always be inclusions and exclusions; of necessity there will be choices made which others will dispute. But if the revisionist impulse to which Green alludes makes South African literature seem a more capacious terrain, that in itself is a first step towards a creative refashioning. For in South Africa we know only too well that "literary histories can suppress and obscure in addition to preserving and celebrating" (Ezell 1993, 148).
Author Harry SewlallSource: English in Africa 30, pp 55 –69 (2003)More Less
The juxtaposition of Joseph Conrad (1854-1924) and Ngugi wa Thiongo (b. 1938) might seem like an aberration at first sight. After all, what can an African novelist have in common with a European writer whom the redoubtable F. R. Leavis placed within the fellowship of the great tradition of English literature? That Conrad has had a considerable influence on Ngugi is well known. Simon Gikandi, in his most recent work on Ngugi, has described Conrad's influence on the Kenyan writer as "substantive" (Gikandi 2000, 106). Parallel readings of Conrad and Ngugi have been done before, notably by Ponnuthurai Sarvan in 1976 (reprinted in Hamner, 1990) and Jacqueline Bardolphe in 1987. Bardolphe posited that Ngugi's A Grain of Wheat and Petals of Blood were readings of Conrad's Under Western Eyes and Victory respectively (1987, 32-49). In this article I propose to explore the relationship between Conrad and Ngugi as author-intellectuals and linguistic exiles through an intertextual reading of Under Western Eyes (1911) and A Grain of Wheat (1967). My excursion into these texts will reveal that they are not simply parallel studies on the theme of betrayal, confession and repentance, but dialectical readings on the continuum of literary intertextuality.
Source: English in Africa 30, pp 71 –86 (2003)More Less
Lionel Abrahams found fragments of Herman Charles Bosman's two unfinished novels among the latter's literary remains. One of these was "Johannesburg Christmas Eve"; the other was later referred to as "Louis Wassenaar." "Louis Wassenaar" has received very little attention from Bosman's commentators and editors. Bosman presumably began writing the novel in the early 1930s but for unknown reasons never finished it. Stephen Gray published it for the first time in Bosman's Johannesburg (1986). In his introduction to this volume Gray remarks that "the surviving drafts [of these unfinished stories] are by no means first attempts - many versions had already gone into them to reach the stage of elaboration displayed here" (1986, 12). "Louis Wassenaar" was also included in Stephen Gray and Craig MacKenzie's Anniversary Edition of Bosman's Old Transvaal Stories (2000). In the introduction MacKenzie (2000, 9) suggests a third, metafictional, category to Bosman's oeuvre alongside his 'Oom SchalkLourens' and 'Voorkamer' sequences. MacKenzie dubs "Louis Wassenaar" the "curiosity" of the Old Transvaal Stories collection and explains that it was included "especially for the commentary it delivers on how short stories may be devised and interpreted" (15). The only other comment on the story that I could trace (and one with which, incidentally, I do not agree) is that by Vivienne Dickson, who interprets the piece as one in which Bosman struggles to get his story off the ground. She argues that "Bosman seems to be like the hero of this book, a newspaper man who wants to write a novel but cannot find a plot ... Bosman may have been consciously experimenting with the novel form, which would have been interesting in a writer who was usually thoroughly old-fashioned, but the lack of conviction in the writing suggests more strongly that the 'experiment' was simply an expedient" (1975, 167). Dickson thus overlooks the possibility that the story is interesting precisely because of Bosman's skilful mastery of metafictional strategies which are clearly in evidence in this story.
Author Elwyn JenkinsSource: English in Africa 30, pp 87 –101 (2003)More Less
South African children's stories written by white writers often draw attention to the customary nudity or near-nudity of children. They also depict children assuming the dress of another culture, which usually entails black children covering their nakedness or white children undressing. Often boys of different cultures undress and swim together. In these stories, clothing and the state of dress or undress are signifiers of culture. The authors use them to portray what they think the views of the characters are about differences in culture, while at the same time revealing their own attitudes.
Author M.J. Sheldon-HeegSource: English in Africa 30, pp 103 –22 (2003)More Less
If questioned about their familiarity with African folk tales, many adult white South Africans would in all likelihood recall reading or hearing such tales as children. More specifically, their recollections of the contents of their childhood bookshelves may well include at least one volume of African folk tales by Phyllis Savory, who has been enormously influential in establishing a particular representation in English of the genre, which is generally considered to be oral. "These Swazi tales have been handed down from generation to generation and represent truly priceless relics of the African continent"; "Children's book, Tales told around the fireside, creatures of the wild, humans who change into animals, a touch of cannibalism, 'collected from the native storytellers, who are the last of their kind'" : indeed, descriptions such as these of two out-of-print titles by Phyllis Savory are sure to resonate with a significant number of white South Africans who owe their acquaintance with African folk tales to this prolific author. Despite the popularity of her titles, however, little appears to have been written on the subject of Phyllis Savory's work, apart from frequent references to the authenticity of the African folk tales she purports to recount. She is credited with having collected stories for over eighty years, drawing on the tales told by the storytellers on her father's farm and listening to missionaries during the course of her travels through Africa (Tribute 119), and Adey, Beeton, Chapman and Pereira, who briefly discuss her work under the rubric of children's literature, comment that her stories bear evidence of more careful research and objective presentation than the work of her predecessors in the area of interpreting San, Khoi and Bantu legends and folklore (51).
Zakes Mda's We Shall Sing for the Fatherland : an illustration of African life using European dramatic modesAuthor Yao-Kun LiuSource: English in Africa 30, pp 123 –134 (2003)More Less
Although Credo Mutwa, for one, "honestly believes that the European-style stage kills an African play and should be avoided wherever possible" (Mutwa 1974/5, 32), Western dramatic modes and European theatrical techniques have left deep imprints on black South African drama. This influence can readily be seen in such plays as The Girl Who Killed to Save (1936) by Herbert Dhlomo; No-Good Friday (1958), Nongogo (1959), and The Coat (1966) by Athol Fugard; The Kimberley Train (1958) by Lewis Sowden; and The Rhythm of Violence (1964) by Lewis Nkosi. As for the drama of Black Consciousness, plays with 'the European-style stage' include Not His Pride (1973) by Makwedini Mtsaka; The Sacrifice of Kreli (1976) by Fatima Dike; and We Shall Sing for the Fatherland (1979), Dark Voices Ring (1979) and Dead End (1979) by Zakes Mda.
Author Chijioke UwahSource: English in Africa 30, pp 135 –44 (2003)More Less
This summary of the realities of the third world political landscape forms the bedrock of Zakes Mda's political vision in most of his plays in the seventies and eighties. His scepticism about the political future of South Africa is rooted in the perception that many African countries that acquired independence are no better off now. Will South Africa be any different?
Author Sheena PatchaySource: English in Africa 30, pp 145 –155 (2003)More Less
This paper seeks to explore the various ways in which Nervous Conditions foregrounds the heterogeneity of women's voices within an African context. By emphasizing the various levels of complicity with and resistance to patriarchy and colonialism, the novel negates the notion that African women's voices constitute a homogeneous 'third world voice.'
Author Margaret LentaSource: English in Africa 30, pp 157 –169 (2003)More Less
The first volume of J. M. Coetzee's autobiography - or autobiographical fiction - Boyhood, appeared in 1997 and its sequel, Youth, in 2002. A striking feature of both these works is that the author, while naming the protagonist within them John Coetzee, refers to this younger self in the third person. This led the TLS reviewer, Peter Porter, to decide that Youth was a novel, and to compare it inappropriately with Disgrace (Porter 2002). Porter was the wrong choice as reviewer : he has not read, and knows no reason why he should have read Boyhood. Indeed, he must also have read Youth rapidly and carelessly. He has no idea of the complex relationship of intimacy and detachment which Coetzee has achieved with his protagonist, most obviously through his use of the third person, but also through other, more delicate strategies of distancing, the most pervasive of which is that of the 'immanent voice' which signals to the reader that s/he must go beyond the obvious indications of the text to understand fully what the author intends.
Author Craig McLuckieSource: English in Africa 30, pp 171 –175 (2003)More Less
Dirk Klopper's Anatomy of Dark : Collected Poems of Arthur Nortje reinforces Espin's perspective. Anatomy of Dark is a comprehensive, encyclopaedic contribution to South African letters and an excellent foundation for the renewed examination of Nortje's place within South African letters.