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Trump, Martin (1985) South African short fiction in English and Afrikaans since 1948. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Prevailing critical practice tends to view South African literature as comprising a number of writing communities in the country whose works and concerns have little to do with each other. Hence literary works in English and in Afrikaans, by black and by white South African writers are rarely considered in relation to one another. Literary criticism in South Africa has, in other words, proceeded along much the same lines as the political determinations of the country, dividing the literature into distinct racial and linguistic camps. While I have chosen to consider South African short fiction with reference to different major writing communities in the country, an underlying principle of this study is the essential unity of South African literature. Works in different languages and by writers of different social groups are seen as comprising a single national literature. Consequently I have followed the practice throughout of frequently drawing comparisons between stories by writers in English and in Afrikaans, by black and by white writers. One sees as the study develops how works by writers in all of the communities are closely related to one another. Black and white South African writers share a host of common concerns in their works. The short story has been chosen as the genre for consideration in this work because it is a predominant literary form in all of the major South African communities. It has been at the cutting edge of developments in South African prose fiction since the 194-0's. The short story sharply illustrates not only historical and social changes in the country but also changing patterns within the writing communities. The historical context of this study is that of the short period of ascendency of Afrikaner nationalism during the 1950's and 1960's and the indications of this movement's gradual disintegration and collapse during the 1970's and 1980's. This is seen against the emergence of African nationalism as the most forceful adversary of white racism in South Africa. The section on the white short fiction in English takes as one of its key points of examination the notable range and diversity in its works; this is directly linked with the fact that this community is at a remove from the central historical clash between Afrikaner and African nationalisms. The short fiction of Afrikaners is considered in two phases, that of the 1950's and 1960's, and then from the 1970's on. In the first phase the writers were striving to modernize their prose tradition and to a great extent abandoned pressing local issues for an involvement in the fashionable trends and concerns of contemporary European and American writers. By the 1970's, however, Afrikaans writing returns to share the concerns of English South African writers about the ravages of apartheid in the region. Black short fiction of this era is viewed as dealing with a central tension in the black community: namely, the threat of violence against traditional values of communalism. The study concludes with an appraisal of the literature of apartheid assessing its place within African and international literary traditions. The principal writers discussed in this study are: Hennie Aucamp, Chris Barnard, H.C. Bosman, M.C. Botha, Breyten Breytenbach, Jack Cope, Achmat Dangor, Abraham De Vries, Ahmed Essop, Nadine Gordimer, Henriette Grove, P.J. Haasbroek, Bessie Head, Christopher Hope, Dan Jacobson, Elsa Joubert, Alex La Guma, E.M. Macphail, Mtutuzeli Matshoba, James Matthews, John Miles, Casey Motsisi, Es'kia Mphahlele, Mbulelo Mzamane, Njabulo Ndebele, Welma Odendaal, Alan Paton, Jan Rabie, Richard Rive, Sheila Roberts, Barney Simon, Can Themba, and Peter Wilhelm.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:00

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