By Christopher Heywood
Christopher Heywood surveys consultant South African poems, performs and prose works in 5 literary traditions: Khoisan, Nguni-Sotho, Afrikaans, English, and Indian. Heywood's decisions contain over a hundred authors and chosen works--covering poetry, theater and prose. Explored within the context of crises resulting in the formation of contemporary South Africa, South African literature emerges from this examine as one of many nice literatures of the trendy international.
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Extra info for A History of South African Literature
Griffiths’ cinema classic on the American civil war. Plays on aspects of the Trek such as Uys Krige’s Magdalena Retief (1936) and N. P. van Wyk Louw’s Die dieper reg (1938: ‘The Deeper Law’) arose from the commitment to South African subjects among Afrikaner writers. Another main event in the formation of modern South Africa was the war of 1899–1902 (Anglo-Boer war), which left the country destitute and exposed to attempts to dominate South African society by imperial and English language interests.
Literary responses include numerous works of fiction and poetry on the rise and fall of the Shaka kingdom, notably Thomas Mofolo’s novel Chaka (1931), and Herbert Dhlomo’s long poem, The Valley of a Thousand Hills (1941). The impact of Mofolo’s Chaka, an early African novel by a black writer, appears indirectly through its having served as a model for later novels and plays by West African writers. Mofolo’s handling of corrupting power reappears in various guises in novels by Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Ayi Kwei Armah.
The difficulty of writing objectively about the war appears in ‘Mafeking Road’, the title story in the collection Mafeking Road (1947), by Herman Charles Bosman, and the unfinished novel Stormwrack (published in 1990 from a long lost manuscript) by C. Louis Leipoldt. Etienne Leroux’s satirical novel Magersfontein, O Magersfontein! (1976), and historical studies of the war by Johannes Meintjes, Karel Schoeman, and many others, signalled the Afrikaners’ emergence after 1960 from an epoch that had been dominated by embittered memories of the war.