English in Africa - Volume 36, Issue 2, 2009
Volumes & issues
Volume 36, Issue 2, 2009
"Her letters cut are generally nothing of interest" : the Heterotopic Persona of Olive Schreiner and the Alterity-Persona of Cronwright-SchreinerSource: English in Africa 36, pp 7 –30 (2009)More Less
The writings of feminist writer and social theorist Olive Schreiner (1855 - 1920), author of The Story of an African Farm, Dreams, From Man to Man, Closer Union, Woman and Labour and Thoughts on South Africa among other works, are usually encountered through these publications, supplemented by the secondary literature on her life and works, rather than archival materials such as the remaining manuscript writings and unpublished letters. Some components of this secondary literature have over time taken on almost primary status: specifically, the biographies by Schreiner's (estranged) husband Samuel 'Cron' Cronwright-Schreiner (The Life) and more recently by Ruth First and Ann Scott, Karel Schoeman (Only An Anguish), and the edited collections of her letters by Cronwright- Schreiner (The Letters), Richard Rive and Yaffa Claire Draznin. Regarding the edited letters, it is not going too far to say that collectively they have come to be treated as though a primary source, in spite of - except in Draznin's exemplary case - their acknowledged deficiencies, and are often quoted from as though providing full and complete versions of Schreiner's letters. The Olive Schreiner Letters Project is in the process of analysing and publishing transcriptions of the Olive Schreiner letters, with the research underpinning this article being part of the project's work.
The Chronicles of Peach Grove Farm : an exceptional early South African children's book by Nellie FincherAuthor Elwyn JenkinsSource: English in Africa 36, pp 31 –43 (2009)More Less
The Chronicles of Peach Grove Farm by Nellie Fincher was published in Pietermaritzburg by The Times Printing and Publishing Company in 1910 (Fincher 1910a). Sub-titled A Story for S. African Children, it is one of the first books in English by a South African author written explicitly for child readers to have been published in South Africa (Jenkins 2002, 35). Stories in English about young South African children, especially girls, had started appearing in 1889, with the publication of The Wood-cutters of the Perie Bush: A South African Story, by Mrs Mary Carey-Hobson (Carey-Hobson 1889). Most were published in the United Kingdom, and not all the authors were born South Africans or resident in the country. Of the dozen or so published up to 1911, Fincher's Peach Grove is, by modern standards, the best: it eschews flowery language and sentimentality and moves beyond robust narrative to explore the distinct personalities and intellectual and emotional lives of her protagonists.
Author J.C. PetersSource: English in Africa 36, pp 45 –62 (2009)More Less
Aubrey Tearle, a retired proofreader and the narrator of Ivan Vladislavić's 2006 novel The Restless Supermarket at one point comments as follows: ''Some say that an error of the right kind in the right place, something not too ugly, something truly devious, an error that demontrate [sic] by its elusiveness how easily we might all slip into error ourselves, might have a purpose, perhaps even a beauty, of its own'' (107). An error like the missing 's' in the word ''demontrates'' here would normally be seen as an anomaly, something that slipped past correction, an undesirable mistake that interrupts the perfect smoothness of a given thought. In fact, the occupation of proofreader exclusively functions to correct such expressions of human error. Vladislavić's novel, set in Tearle's neighbourhood in post-apartheid South Africa, is written entirely from his white, male, and often racist point of view.
Author Eckard SmutsSource: English in Africa 36, pp 63 –77 (2009)More Less
In 1793 Friedrich Schiller, a German poet and playwright, wrote a series of letters to his Danish benefactor, Prince Friedrich Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Augustenburg, on the subject of aesthetic education (2). These rather beguiling letters attempt to demonstrate the transition of humanity, in abstract terms, from a condition of pure, unmediated sensuality to a state of ordered freedom.
Author Ian GlennSource: English in Africa 36, pp 79 –98 (2009)More Less
This reading of J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace aims to transform the novel to sociological and cultural statement. In what follows I argue that the novel was intended as social commentary, but that local and international critics, particularly South Africans who have left the country, find it difficult to accept this; that the text echoes the plots of earlier South African novels which present a highly pessimistic reading of inter-racial sexuality; that Coetzee, in his presentation of violent crime in South Africa, becomes what Jeffrey Alexander in his works on cultural trauma calls a 'carrier' of trauma; and that Coetzee's stance, which I characterise as liberal Afro-pessimism, limits his treatment of key themes in ways which date the novel.
"The affections of a man of feeling in the midst of the wilderness" : François Le Vaillant on the South African frontier
Travels into the Interior of Africa via the Cape of Good Hope, François Le Vaillant : reviewAuthor Malvern Van Wyk SmithSource: English in Africa 36, pp 99 –111 (2009)More Less
Concluding his Introduction to the first volume of this welcome new translation of Le Vaillant's Travels, Ian Glenn declares: ''Le Vaillant is much more our contemporary than Schreiner or many later writers seem to be'' (lxiii). Earlier Glenn sums up the double disadvantage that has for decades militated against the proper recognition of Le Vaillant's importance in our literary traditions: ''Right-wing settler ideology disqualifies Le Vaillant as meddling creole Frenchman, or presents him [.. .] as simple adventurer and naturalist, while a later generation of anti-colonialist discourse critics is happy to present him in the right-wing's simplified, politically censored version [Glenn is referring particularly to the Library of Parliament's edition de luxe of 1973] to prove that there was only one mode of colonial Africanist discourse'' (lix) - a mode only and obviously Eurocentric to the core.
Author Travis V. MasonSource: English in Africa 36, pp 113 –115 (2009)More Less
Canadian author Fred Stenson has been writing since 1974, when he published his first novel, Lonesome Hero, at the age of twenty-two. Born and raised in Alberta, Canada's oil-rich, Rocky Mountain frontier province, Stenson finally reached national prominence with the historical novels The Trade (2000) and Lightning (2003). With the success of these two fictions, set in nineteenth-century Western Canada, Stenson decided to complete a trilogy of sorts and began researching Alberta's homestead era. When his research uncovered the extent to which the South African War of 1899 - 1902 involved Canadians, particularly Alberta cowboys, the stage was set for what would become his fifth novel and fifteenth book. The Great Karoo is a compelling evocation of turn-of-the-century politics, war, and imperialism set against a harsh, beautiful South African landscape.
Author Dan WylieSource: English in Africa 36, pp 117 –121 (2009)More Less
Louise Bethlehem, South African-born but now tenured at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has to be one of the sharpest intelligences working in Southern African literary studies today. This slender book is characteristically scintillating, dense with metatextual theory, and shot through with anger. It is a text upon metatexts: a series of coruscating snapshots of four or so key moments of literary critical discourse that emerged from the South African 'lit-crit' establishment during the apartheid years, and one following it (the TRC). It pretends neither to be a survey of the discipline, nor - somewhat disdainfully - to be supported by an empirical layering of evidence. Rather, it explores how the discursive structures and rhetoric of chosen literary critical texts have failed to enact the liberation to which they lay claim.