oa Alternation - The work of cultural criticism: re-visiting the South African opinion

Volume 15, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



The South African Opinion (later re-named Trek) was one of the first periodicals in South Africa to give serious attention to South African writers. As such, it has significance as a founding moment in the history of South African canon-formation and the development of a distinctive South African aesthetic. To revisit The South African Opinion in the present is not only to witness the early articulations of an indigenous South African criticism. but also to re-enter a moment of acute cultural anxiety-the efforts of English-speaking South Africans to forge a 'national culture' and the associated struggle to define an indigenous South African 'essence' or 'geist'. This early English South African National project takes on additional interest in the light of more recent attempts to define an inclusive South African nation in the post-apartheid period. Genealogies of South African criticism aside, to return to S.A. Opinion in the present is also to confront the figure of the English-speaking white South African literary critic engaged in the business of criticism.

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