oa Alternation - The 'grove of death' in Pauline Smith's 'The Miller'

Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



For some time now critics have been interested in Pauline Smith's use of space and spatialisation. During the 80s in particular this interest was couched in terms of the 'world' of her work: the 'world' she was said to create or construct by writing. Her fiction was read as generated out of the narrative choices she makes, and evaluated (and judged) in terms of the ideology said to underlie and motivate the fictional world thus engendered. J.M. Coetzee's 1981 'Pauline Smith and the Afrikaans Language', Sheila Roberts's 1983 'A Confined World: A Rereading of Pauline Smith', and Dorothy Driver's 1989 'God, Fathers and White South Africans: The World of Pauline Smith' are cases in point. To a certain extent this critical focus coheres with Smith's own sense of 'writing a world'. In a letter to Frank Swinnerton of 15 February 1936, she remarks: The narrowness of some of the lives lived in this valley is what Arnold would have called 'fantastic'-yesterday we went up far into the mountains to a most beautiful little farm where they seem never to have heard of any war since the Boer war, and where no papers from the outside world ever reach them-It was as if for those few hours we were living in a little self-contained world safe within a ring of mountains over which no news of disaster could ever travel!

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