oa Alternation - Guarding the novel: the stone country and literary representation

Volume 15, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



What Marx said of legal institutions applies in wide measure to literary forms. They cannot stand higher than the society which brought them forth. Indeed, since they deal with the deepest human laws, problems and contradictions of an epoch they should not stand higher-in the sense, say, of anticipating coming perspectives of development by romantic- Utopian projections of the future into the present. For the tendencies leading to the future are in fact more firmly and definitely contained in what really is than in the most beautiful Utopian dreams or projections (Lukcs 1983). Lukcs establishes here a strong foundation for the argument that novels are social formations that echo the dominant standards of a culture, at the same time that they seek to call attention to the paradoxes of those institutions. Cultures and countries that endure great tribulation seem destined to turn to literary realism as a default setting for narrative prose; the crucible that is the prison in such cultures provides a unique glimpse into the 'real' that Lukcs suggests. Many critics have recognized that the prison of Alex La Guma's The Stone Country stands in for South Africa during Apartheid.

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