Much of the critical activity surrounding J. M. Coetzee's work focuses on its metafictional complexity, with particular attention being paid to the ethical significance of his methods of authorial self-negation. This article departs from the critical norm by focusing instead on what may be called the persistence of an authorial presence in Coetzee's writing. It is a persistence that can be traced in Coetzee's writing about the Karoo farm, and that draws much of its impetus from Romantic gestures of identification with (and self-identification within) the natural environment. I trace the development of such a form of identification in the work of William Wordsworth, before considering its afterlife in Coetzee's autobiographical fiction (Boyhood, Youth and Summertime). Coetzee's writing, I argue, brings a new impetus to our understanding of the Romantic ideal of finding a form of integral being through communion with the natural landscape, by situating that ideal in a textual paradigm that is strongly marked by an awareness of its cultural contingency.
This paper examines the recent appearance of several 'anti-heroic' memoirs of the South African 'Border War' written by conscripts. The use of the medical diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in these writings is critically examined. The memoirs reveal how difficult it is to articulate memories of contemporary war without drawing on a medical explanation. The South African memoirs also demonstrate the ambiguous role that the diagnosis of PTSD plays in, on the one hand, enabling the authors to speak about their experiences, while, on the other, providing an opportunity for them to distance themselves from the ethical implications of their own involvement in the war. The paper concludes that the tension within the identity of victim-perpetrator is perhaps too easily collapsed into simple victimhood.
In this paper I discuss unpublished visual poems by Wopko Jensma alongside similar work from his last collection, I Must Show You My Clippings (1977). While Jensma is known as both an innovative writer and skilled artist and designer, it is the combined influences of these disciplines which make his visual poetry interesting. By placing these particular poems within global and local literary-historical contexts, and situating their specific modes of signification within a theoretical framework, I explain the ways in which Jensma's visual poems work as both semantic and semiotic texts.
This article explores the representation of identity in Lauren Beukes's dystopian novel, Moxyland (2008). We follow the work of various critics and argue that the text presents identity as fractured, riven and characterized by sharp edges. The edges in question refer to the boundaries of personal, corporeal, national and corporate identity. These edges may be considered symptomatic of the individual and social demands placed on subjectivities in a post-transitional society, with the result that they are robbed of agency. Each character inhabits a different form of ontological liminality, partaking of multiple forms of subjectivity at the same time. Finally, the novel portrays a dangerous excess in post-apartheid South African identities, which leads some characters to fatal confusion between real and virtual subjectivities and opens them to manipulation by sinister social forces.
Abdulrazak Gurnah's Paradise has been read by many critics as a "writing back" to Conrad's Heart of Darkness and other European literary journeys set in Africa. However, the embedded presence of the previously unacknowledged early Swahili prose texts Safari Yangu na Bara Afrika (My Journey Up-Country in Africa) and Yangu ya Urusi na ya Siberia (My Journey to Russia and Siberia) shifts the nexus of Paradise's literary genealogy. This article argues that Paradise at once creates for itself a localized self-referential African literary genealogy, not dependent on European canonical texts, and challenges genealogies of African literature that exclude these early Swahili tales. Gurnah's strategy in the novel imbues Swahili storytellers with interiority and agency denied by the European mediators who transcribed their stories. Rather than naively imagine unmediated access to late nineteenth-century Swahili storytellers, Gurnah embraces his fraught project as an English language mediator with postcolonial predispositions.
Goretti Kyomuhendo's Waiting : A Novel of Uganda at War explores the atrocities that ordinary people experience during wartime by placing emphasis on the private suffering and humiliation inflicted on women in the domestic space of the home. This article argues that even if women do not actively feature on the battleground, they are still inadvertently drawn into the war, which has an adverse impact on their lives. Kyomuhendo draws on the experiences of different female characters to problematize the inherently ambiguous symbolic image of the mother, and shows that the violence performed on women's bodies is a result of the interplay between two hegemonic forces, patriarchal authority and state power. This article addresses the following questions : how does Kyomuhendo's Waiting reflect on the lived experiences of the individual, the family unit and the community during times of conflict? As a female writer, how does she represent the experience of violence and the disintegration of the home? Does this narrative reveal how and why women construct new forms of agency during conditions of repression? What are the various strategies that female characters adopt to defend and maintain their families in times of conflict?
South African-born Lindsey Collen, based for most of her writing years on the Indian Ocean Republic of Mauritius, has been propelled to fame in the postcolonial English-language sphere for twice having gained the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Africa region. Best known for her first winner, the breakthrough novel The Rape of Sita (1993, 1995, 2001), she has nevertheless also published several other works, notably in the local Kreol language. She is hailed there as an activist publicising advanced causes through the medium of her innovative short and long fictions, as this summary demonstrates afresh.