At least the French translation is based on the original Afrikaans text, which is not always the case, the English versions of texts being more often preferred by translators, with the misunderstandings one can easily imagine. He does not hesitate to point the possible flaws of such or such a work, while still underlining its role and influence. Writing a literary anthology on South Africa, therefore, becomes an even more arduous task, as one needs to ponder first on how South African literature can be defined. He first briefly tackles the subject in the introduction, then in pages devoted to the role of anthologies in the promotion of South African literature, and in a chapter wholly concerned with the reception of South African literature in South Africa as well as in France and the rest of the world.
This rather short chapter provides excellent bibliographical references and extremely deep and judicious thoughts, and it is certainly one of the most fascinating chapters in the whole book. This book is not, therefore, a mere series of texts more or less arbitrarily selected, but an anthology that also traces the history of South African literature and of its various genres, which are constantly placed back into their contexts so that their evolutions can better be explained. The author must be praised for juggling so dexterously between single works and whole genres and for managing with such subtlety of judgment and expression to show the complex ties that link literature and history in the particular field of South African studies.
Such an effort should also be set as an example and an encouragement for many faculties of Anglophone studies in France to drop divisions between subjects that are sometimes artificially kept and instead to favor a greater dialogue between all the various specialists of South African studies, whatever their specific fields may be, as such a collaboration is still rather limited.
Such are the issues and choices that determine the value and the importance given to multiple cultural, linguistic, and aesthetic heritages, be they from South Africa or the rest of the English-speaking world, and that will also determine the future of a national culture that is truly multicultural, and whose modalities are still to be defined. I will not try in this review to summarize a book that, by its very nature, hardly lends itself to this exercise.
The book is divided into three parts, following the three "periods" in the history of South Africa: "The time of conquests"; "The time of separation," which is the longest part in the book; and "The time of reconciliation," the last chapter of which acts as a conclusion to the whole. Those parts are preceded by an introduction "Avertissement" , which explains the overall organization of the book and states the author's choices, as well as by a chronology.
They are followed by an index that lists the names of the authors mentioned in the book primary sources only and by the table of contents. The first part, entitled "The time of conquest," traces the origins of South African literature in the singular , "from speech to writing" in the first chapter, which deals with literature written by Africans, to "the birth of literatures" in the plural in the second chapter, which analyzes separately "the birth of white literatures" and that of "African literatures" both times in the plural. The oral traditions of the Xhosas and the Zulus are better known, because, among other reasons, those peoples were not as systematically exterminated by colonists.
The role of missionaries and of conversions is also mentioned and developed further in the second chapter, together with its influence on the perspectives adopted by African writers on their own cultures as well as on the style and language of their writings. The books also closely analyzes the way oral traditions can be distorted and used as mere tools for political ends or reduced to a simplistic folklore, as well as how modernity changed those cultures in complex ways, in particular under apartheid and with the creation of Bantustans, or for the Zulu culture under the contested influence of Gatsha Buthelezi.
Similarly, several pages are devoted to the gradual transition from these oral forms to the written text, which still strongly bears the stamp of orality, most notably in the case of religious hymns or other forms of popular literature. The latter are associated to other forms of expression, such as music, the graphic arts, and theater, but also some aspects of political rallies and demonstrations.
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All those various forms of creation, by their very nature, use a multiplicity of idioms, which in return enrich the means of literary creation. The following chapter, entitled "The birth of literatures," goes back in its second subpart to these African literatures, the role of the missions, and the first African writers Thomas Mofolo, Herbert Dhlomo, Benedict Vilakazi, and Plaatje , with superb passages on the debates that opposed them, and that have often been forgotten afterward, about the best way in which to adapt to the intrusion of modernity and the by then no longer deniable prevalence of linguistic and aesthetic criteria imported from Europe, as well as the already perceptible influence of black American writers.
The pages on the issue of language serve as a transition with the first subpart in this chapter, which traces the progressive emancipation of a white literature, which can by then be said to be specifically South African. This first subpart lists most of the major works by writers of the period, in English and in Afrikaans, which is then becoming a real language and considered suitable for literary creation.
It also convincingly analyzes travel and exploration narratives, of which narratives of the Great Trek will be but a variant or an avatar, together with the versions adapted to contemporary times that writers like J. Coetzee or Brink give of them. It is mentioned only much later in the book, and only in passing, quoting Brink about Breyten Breytenbach's work, but without being the object of as long a development as it deserves, and which might reveal some of the new links that are growing between the various cultures of South Africa. The second main part, "The time of separation," is preceded by a quotation from the tutelary figure of Mphahlele, who in Down Second Avenue deplores that it is impossible for the country to see the appearance of a culture or a literature that would be truly national, so watertight are the entrenched divisions between blacks and whites and their respective lives and experiences under apartheid.
This part, which is mostly devoted to the period of apartheid, opens indeed with comments on how the author's asserted willingness not to separate communities and cultures is however defeated by the realities of apartheid and the widening gap between communities that it created and reinforced. Rather logically, there follow in the next chapter chapter 3, "The time of goodbyes" an analysis of several texts published in Drum and comments on several writers who contributed to the magazine.
The most gifted of its contributors managed, however, to avoid the pitfalls of sensationalism and sexism, resorting instead to satire and irony Lewis Nkosi, Mphahlele, and Peter Abrahams. Other, less famous writers are also mentioned in this study. Urban life, the township, and the street become the settings favored by black literature, while the place given to women has to be redefined, with, for instance, the development of a literature written by women, although few venture into the field of poetry, which is greatly influenced by political agendas.
He then goes back to the history of theater and theatrical productions and practices in South Africa, from precolonial times to the era of colonization, to underline how the conditions in which plays could be staged played a paramount role in the renewal of theatrical practices and forms and, paradoxically, encouraged white and black playwrights, actors, and directors to collaborate fruitfully. He regularly broadens the scope of his analysis to encompass the rest of Africa, using carefully chosen examples and quotations from works in English as well as in French, which are always extremely relevant and enlightening.
This capacity to zoom in and out on his subject also enables him to assess the relations South African writers have established, or sometimes failed to establish, with their peers in other African states. Each subpart ends with provisional conclusions about the links between history, society, and literature. However, after the numerous micro-analyses of excerpts from works of the "five pillars," those later pages give the impression that the survey here is maybe a little too quick-paced, leading maybe at times to almost hasty conclusions.
The pace quickens again in the third and last part of the book, "The time of reconciliation," which is less than one hundred pages long compared to over two hundred for the previous part. Part 2 laid the stress mostly on the division between communities; part 3, on the contrary, emphasizes the few exceptional instances of collaborations and develops the possibilities that can serve as points of convergence between communities, suggesting that there may appear in the "New South Africa" a literature that would be truly national at last.
Chapter 6, "Common grounds," goes back to the themes that writers have in common, even though they may adopt different, crossed perspectives on them: exile, imprisonment, and the paradoxical bonds that tie a prisoner and his warden together. In that respect, it is mildly surprising that the otherwise interesting analysis of the symbol of the leash in N. The numerous similar short stories published at the time of the State of Emergency and of the war in Angola and Namibia, in English and Afrikaans, are not alluded to either, even as part of the popular literature that also contributed to influence the public mind at the time.
Above all, although the issues of the reception by literary critics, of the links between literature and history, and of the evolution of literary history and genres are developed with great acuity and finesse, the reader cannot help being struck by the relative short space granted to works written in Afrikaans. It has to be said that other Afrikaans writers figure elsewhere in the book, but a longer development on Schoeman or a study of Van Heerden would have been welcome in this particular subpart.
The latter is only quoted once for one of his critical articles, but never as a writer. One also thinks of Koos Prinsloo or of Reza de Wet's plays. But this is only a minor reservation, as it is impossible for anyone to be exhaustive. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions.
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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Composed under the shadow or even from within the trenches of the first world war, under the twinned patronage of Fantomas and Irma Vep, moving from the Symbolist era into the advent of Dada just before it fell away into Surrealism, this is Louis Aragon's first novel, a tour of changing times amid the Paris arts scene. The catalogue of contexts above may create an overly enticing image, though -- Aragon would experiment much more wildly, and entertainingly, in his following The Adventures of T Composed under the shadow or even from within the trenches of the first world war, under the twinned patronage of Fantomas and Irma Vep, moving from the Symbolist era into the advent of Dada just before it fell away into Surrealism, this is Louis Aragon's first novel, a tour of changing times amid the Paris arts scene.
The catalogue of contexts above may create an overly enticing image, though -- Aragon would experiment much more wildly, and entertainingly, in his following The Adventures of Telemachus , whereas here, flashes of innovation are interspersed with coded conversation on various contemporaries, and some pretty drearily one-sided conceptions of love and relationships. The latter to expected I suppose, given era and context, but still. Free download available at Project Gutenberg. I made the proofing of this book for Free Literature and it will be published by Project Gutenberg. Il s'y tenait dur comme fer et y conformait sa conduite.
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The beauty of DADA is that it came from total disaster, in other words, total destruction. That map is re-wr The beauty of DADA is that it came from total disaster, in other words, total destruction. That map is re-written by Aragon, who uses the life surrounding him at the time, which means Andre Breton, Max Jacob, Picasso, and others, who all make an appearance in this work of "fiction.
A snapshot of the time especially with the cinematic references Pearl White serials, Fantomas but nevertheless, a snapshot taken by a poet with his poetic sensibilities in place. Once again, Atlas Press, goes beyond their duty to come out with another beauty of a production, which is this book. All of the characters are stand-ins for real life people. Picasso, for example, in a gesture that may make you cringe, is renamed Blue. That being said, the book is a fanciful phantasmagoria and could not possibly be taken by anybody except for a madman as a fictionilization of actual events.
At the time they both quasi-identified as dadaists hence the appended subtitle of the Alias edition. Dadaism as exemplified by the screeds of the day and manifested in Aragon's novel is not a whole lot less reactionary than futurism. Art and traditional values are the big bugaboo.
Murder and suicide are sexy as is crime in general , desecration is cool. He is clearly also gaga for cinema still then an extremely fresh phenomenon. Less appealing is Aragon's adolescent reification of the outsized amorous object. The bulk of what is wrong with ANICET is ultimately attributable to the woefully underdeveloped nature of young Aragon's overall sensibility.