Apartheid and Beyond: South African Writers and the Politics by Rita Barnard

By Rita Barnard

Apartheid and Beyond deals trenchant, traditionally delicate readings of writings by way of Coetzee, Gordimer, Fugard, Tlali, Dike, Magona, and Mda, targeting the intimate courting among position, subjectivity, and literary shape. It additionally explores the best way apartheid functioned in its daily operations as a geographical process of regulate, exerting its strength via such spatial mechanisms as residential segregation, bantustans, passes, and prisons. in the course of the research, Rita Barnard presents historic context via highlighting key occasions reminiscent of colonial career, the construction of black townships, migration, compelled removals, the emergence of casual settlements, and the slow integration of white towns. Apartheid and Beyond is either an leading edge account of a massive physique of politically inflected literature and an ingenious mirrored image at the socio-spatial facets of the transition from apartheid to democracy.

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35 The passage from White Writing admits to pastoral or utopian desires only in the form of a rhetorical question and indicates a strong awareness of the untimeliness of such desires. 36 It is, therefore, not only possible but also necessary to trace the utopian possibilities in Coetzee’s bleak fiction. Like the Magistrate in Waiting for the Barbarians who in a dream urges the barbarian girl to put people in the empty city she builds out of snow, Coetzee’s earlier works seem to demand, in their very silences, a landscape replete with the sounds of humanity and a society based on reciprocity and fraternity.

D. in linguistics) might have something to do with his interest in spatial organization. But his interest in place and space also has an experiential and personal dimension, evident in a skeptically and rigorously examined attachment to the South African landscape. 2 The increasing discomfort one notes in Coetzee’s work of the s with the dominance of a Marxist historicism in South African academic circles can also be attributed—at least in part—to his concern with the spatial. I say “in part” since, as the polemical essay “The Novel Today” () reveals, Coetzee’s impatience with the all-swallowing tendency of historical master narratives derives in the first instance from his sense of himself as a novelist.

This lyrical finale, however self-consciously announced as “closing plangencies,” expresses a desire that seems rather more specific and local in its implications than the universal linguistic condition of desire and deferral figured for Dovey by the hermit crab: There are poems, I am sure, about the heart that aches for Verlore Vlakte, about the melancholy of the sunset over the koppies, the sheep beginning to huddle against the first evening chill, the faraway boom of the windmill, the first chirrup of the first cricket, the last twitterings of the birds in the thorn-trees, the stones of the farmhouse wall still holding the sun’s warmth, the kitchen lamp glowing steady.

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