English in Africa - Volume 41, Issue 1, 2014
Volumes & issues
Volume 41, Issue 1, 2014
Author Malvern Van Wyk SmithSource: English in Africa 41, pp 9 –12 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.1More Less
Seamus Heaney, internationally celebrated poet of Ireland and winner of the Nobel Prize in 1995, died in Dublin on Friday 30 August 2013, aged 74. He and his wife Marie paid a memorable visit to South Africa in 2002 and what follows is a short account of the occasion.
Author M. Van Wyk SmithSource: English in Africa 41, pp 13 –34 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.2More Less
When J. M. Coetzee's last South African novel, Disgrace, was published in 1999 (he emigrated to Australia two years later), it drew some very sharp responses. Max du Preez wrote in the Star (21 Jan. 2000): "[The] message of Disgrace, crudely put, is that black South Africans are revengeful of whites; that whites are not welcome in Africa unless they pay for it every day; that black and white attitudes and lifestyles are incompatible" (cited in Kannemeyer 528). Athol Fugard was notoriously quoted in the London Sunday Times as believing that the novel was about "the rape of a white woman as a gesture to all of the evil we did in the past," an idea that he dismissed as "a load of bullshit" (cited in Attridge 164). One could go on, but what quickly became evident in the critical feeding frenzy that soon followed was that Coetzee's utilization of a stark realism - a new mode for him, tried out in his major fiction only once before, in parts of Age of Iron (1990) - as well as his invocation of a trope as sensationally shocking and topical as farm rape, and his evident concern with racial retribution, had made it very difficult for most readers to see beyond the features of politics and plot in the novel.
Author Richard Alan NorthoverSource: English in Africa 41, pp 35 –54 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.3More Less
The verses in the epigraph are from a Christian hymn written by the former captain of a slave ship involved in the Atlantic slave trade who eventually converted to Christianity and repented his role in the slave trade for the rest of his life. His hymn is based on a prayer by King David (1 Chronicles 17: 16-17) and expresses gratitude for moments of grace in which he was saved from sin. His work as a priest inspired William Wilberforce, whose efforts to abolish the slave trade in Britain eventually succeeded in 1823. Newton's story raises interesting questions about personal and general complicity in an evil institution such as slavery considered normal at the time (hence analogous to our contemporary animal exploitation industries), and about whether there is a need for divine intervention, or moments of grace, to achieve salvation, questions at the heart of much of Coetzee's writing.
Source: English in Africa 41, pp 55 –73 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.4More Less
In 1962 a group of liberals in Cape Town founded The New African as a radical review of politics and the arts. It set out to cover the new Africa in general and South Africa in particular. At that time many countries in Africa were gaining their independence and this group intended that a non-racial democratic South Africa would join them sooner rather than later. The editors set out to learn from, to criticise and rejoice in the changes which were happening in the far away north of the African continent. Thanks especially to Zeke Mphahlele the journal was always introducing to South Africa work by new writers such as Soyinka, Ngugi, Bessie Head, Dennis Brutus, Ayi Kwei Armah and Mazisi Kunene. In 1964 Special Branch harassment increased: the office was closed, the addressograph plates removed, all copies of the March issue seized at the Post Office, printers threatened, and a charge of obscenity and blasphemy brought for certain words like "Jeeweesus" in a shebeen story by Can Themba. The last South African issue was in July 1964, as three editors escaped in dangerously dramatic ways. The New African continued in London from March 1965 and free copies were sent to old subscribers in South Africa under a succession of fake mastheads to slip past the postal authorities.
Author Dan WylieSource: English in Africa 41, pp 75 –90 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.5More Less
This was by way of commenting on Butler's view of Sydney Clouts's poetry. Clouts, considered by some the finest South African poet of his generation, had received a posthumous shredding in Watson's earlier essay, "Sydney Clouts and the Limits of Romanticism" (1986). Those limits were reached, in Watson's view, partly in Romanticism's "negation of modernity," and partly in failing to gain traction in the late-colonial dislocations of apartheid South Africa. Interestingly, Clouts had also contemplated the settler-inherited dilemmas of language and belonging via the thoughts of another South American poet, Jorge Luis Borges.
The Afrikaner grotesque : mediating between colonial self and colonised other in three post-Apartheid South African novelsAuthor Ken BarrisSource: English in Africa 41, pp 91 –107 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.6More Less
In this paper I will discuss a literary trope that exemplifies the Manichean clarity to which Nixon refers, namely the figure of the oppressive Afrikaner. The term 'Afrikaner' historically describes white Afrikaans-speaking people, and has in the past been used interchangeably with the term 'Boer.' This literally means farmer, but metonymically extends to Afrikaners, who thus valorise their pastoral history. I do not refer below to real Afrikaans-speaking people, but to a mode of literary representation. The same cautions apply to my use of 'civilised' and 'savage,' which need not be taken at face value.
Author Rilette SwanepoelSource: English in Africa 41, pp 109 –126 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.7More Less
Ivan Vladislavić's fiction often centres on how characters relate to their environments and, more particularly, on how they perceive cultural artefacts, such as monuments, statues, fine-art objects and architecture. He describes the visual aspects of these artefacts in minute detail. Such artefacts frequently serve as motifs in his short stories and novels, and he regularly employs them as markers of ideology and of change. As the author of several texts on South African fine arts, this preoccupation with the visual comes as no surprise.
Author Troy BlacklawsSource: English in Africa 41, pp 127 –142 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.8More Less
The young hero of apartheid stories inhabits a hazardous frontier world, pervaded by violence and calling again and again for proof of bravado. As Bloke Modisane once put it: "South Africa has a frontier or voortrekker mentality, a primitive throw-back to the pioneering era, the trail-blazing days, when the law dangled in the holster and justice was swift" (Modisane 17). While the influence of US gangster culture on Drum journalism in the 1950s has been vividly explored by Mike Nicol in A Good-Looking Corpse, this article focuses on the cowboy hero as an imported mode of male identity in prose narratives from the apartheid era. This prose plays out in worlds as polarised as dull, parochial white towns (akin to towns in Westerns) and jiving, dodgy townships (such as Sophiatown and District Six, doomed to become ghost towns). During this time of "gritting the teeth and enduring" (Coetzee 14), the young hero has to learn to be as flinty and heroic as a cowboy if he is to survive to manhood, when he will (if he is white) be drafted and sent to the border to shoot at the foe or (if he is black) be hounded and shot at by the police. Thus fathers in apartheid stories are almost to a man stoic and hard on their sons. Like cowboys, they never cry and they hardly ever reveal their feelings. Such fathers tend to be distant (they are out roving the farm or hunting; they are away on the mines or in jail), so it is from seeing the fictive antics of cowboys on the silver screen that the young hero learns how to be a cowboy.
Author Mike MaraisSource: English in Africa 41, pp 143 –152 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.9More Less
Ken Barris was born in Port Elizabeth and lives in Cape Town, where he works at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. His writing includes two collections of poetry, a collection of short stories, and five novels, the most recent being What Kind of Child (2006) and Life Underwater (2012). His work has been translated into Turkish, Danish, German and Slovenian, and poetry and short fiction have appeared in various anthologies. More recently, he has turned to writing for academic journals. His research interests are postapartheid fiction and language education.
He has won the Sydney Clouts Memorial Award and the Ingrid Jonker Prize for poetry, the Ad Donker/AA Life Award and Thomas Pringle Awards for short fiction, as well as the M-Net Book Prize and the University of Johannesburg Prize. He has also been shortlisted for the Caine Prize for Writing in Africa (2003, 2007), the Herman Charles Bosman Prize (2007, 2013), the PEN/Studzinski Award, and the Commonwealth Prize (Best Book Africa).
"South Africa: The Emancipation Moment"
A special issue of English in Africa (Volume 41, Number 2, of October 2015)Source: English in Africa 41, pp 153 –154 (2014)More Less
This year, 2013, South Africans are marking in various ways the centenary of the Natives' Land Act. The year 2014 will be both the 20th anniversary of South Africa's first free and fair elections, and the 180th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. In 2015 we will mark the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter.
Achieved professionalism : The Columbia Guide to South African Literature in English and The Cambridge History of South African Literature : review articleAuthor Louise BethlehemSource: English in Africa 41, pp 155 –179 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.10More Less
On May 31 1910, Professor John Purves of the Transvaal University College in Pretoria would use the coming into being of the Union of South Africa as an occasion to address South African literature, treating his subject with a mixture of regard and regret. "The literature of South Africa," he observed, "has not yet attained, like that of Canada and Australia to the dignity of a formal history. The number of books published yearly in the four Provinces of the Union form a paltry and inconsiderable total compared with the records of the other Dominions, and South Africa cannot yet be said to have developed a literary consciousness. Yet the books that have come out of South Africa and the books South Africa has inspired are neither few nor wholly insignificant, while the literary associations of the great sub-continent are probably richer than those of any other of the great Colonial territories" ("South African Literature," Cape Times, Commemorative Number, 31 May 1910, qtd. in Gray English South African Literature, 6).
André Brink, Mevrou Sadie and Me : reflections on and beyond Contrary: Critical Responses to the Novels of André Brink : review articleAuthor Michael ChapmanSource: English in Africa 41, pp 181 –198 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.11More Less
When my matric Afrikaans teacher drank himself to death in March 1962, he was replaced for the remainder of the year by Mevrou Sadie. Although she held a position of sorts in the Kimberley branch of the National Party - dour in its Calvinism - Mev. Sadie was a free spirit, or seen so by us at our all-boys high school. She would have agreed with André Brink's own reflections on what motivated his early novel, Lobola vir die lewe (1962) [Bride Price for Life]: an Afrikaans literature that, at the time, was "really in the doldrums. It was still carrying on with the old nineteenth-century naturalistic approach. It was all about droughts and locusts and poor whites" (Brink, qtd. in Wroe, Contrary 31).
Recent theorisations of trauma fiction, postcolonialism, and the South African novel : review articleAuthor Thando NjovaneSource: English in Africa 41, pp 199 –207 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v41i1.12More Less
Drawing on both psychological and sociological definitions of trauma, the essay collection The Splintered Glass engages with the intersection between individual and cultural trauma, while simultaneously warning against the blurring of the distinction between the two. In line with this, trauma is defined not only as a "wound of the mind" of an individual, but also as a "link between cultures" (x). While bearing a remarkable resemblance to the Freudian haunting inherent in most definitions of historical trauma (see also Erikson, Tal and Caruth), the concept of cultural trauma, as utilised in this collection, is situated in the present and seeks to transcend this haunting by gesturing towards a "safe post-traumatic space" (6). A traumatic history "established and sustained by power structures, social agents and contending groups" in a "constant, recurrent struggle that stirs up a troubling memory" (xii) is shared by many, if not all, postcolonial societies.