Sommario Culture 2002



  * This essay was originally presented in an abbreviated version at the conference on "Récit émergeant, récit renaissant, 1859-1939" held at the Université Michel de Montaigne-Bordeaux 3, Bordeaux, France, on January 23-26, 2002.


1 Although the editions indicated above were the first to appear, in this paper references are to later editions: Sarah Gertude Millin, God's Stepchildren, Johannesburg: Ad.Donker, 1986, with a Preface by Tony Voss, pp. 7-17; William Plomer, Turbott Wolfe, ed. by Stephen Gray, with background pieces by Roy Campbell, William Plomer, Laurens van der Post, Nadine Gordimer, Michael Herbert, Peter Wilhelm, David Brown and Stephen Gray, Johannesburg, AD.Donker, 1980; Thomas Mofolo, Chaka, translated into English and edited by Daniel P. Kunene, London, Heinemann,1984; Solomon T.Plaatje, Mhudi, London, Heinemann, 1978, ed. by Stephen Gray with an introduction by Tim Couzens. Millin's book was revised by the author for a later 1924 edition, the one currently used, which became very popular in the United States. Mofolo's novel suffered heavy censorship from the hand of its missionary publishers; the excised parts were never recovered, while Plaatje's, who also suffered censorship, was restituted to its original version when Tom Couzens and Stephen Gray rescued the manuscript after a fire had damaged the storage area of the Lovedale Press and edited the complete version. In this essay I qualify people and books as 'white' and 'black' to design a visible grid of reference relating to its central theme, the crossing and mixing of white/black in miscegenation.


2 Gandhi recruited a batallion of Indian troopers to support the British army in the repression of the Zulu rebellion. Gandhi's group never went into fighting, but only assisted the wounded and dead, both white and black. Later he admitted that he would have never flanked the British expedition had he known that it was not a war but a massacre of innocent women and children.


3 William Plomer then belonged to the group of the famous journal Voorslag, together with Campbell and van der Post; he later moved back to England where he became a leading figure in the world of publishing and literature.

4 The fleeting reference to Gauguin and his Tahiti seems to give a flavour of romantic exoticism to Turbott's story by evoking a vision of happiness and sexual abandonment and easy gratification.

5 See Lewis Nkosi, Mating Birds, London,Constable, 1986, where a young black man waiting to be executed for the alleged rape of a white girl talks to a psychoanalist and describes the ambiguity of the encounter with the girl on the beach divided by a partition so as to separate white from blacks. The man seems unable to make it clear for us whether it was rape or not, for the only way to enter into contact with a white woman seems to be rape.

6 See Arthur Maimane, Victims, London, Allison and Busby, 1976. Here there is no doubt about the fact that it was a rape, yet the reasons for it are complex, as well as the way the woman reacts when she finds out she is pregnant: she keeps the child in spite of her husband and social milieu, who outcast her, while the apartheid system throws her i

nto an impossible situation compelling her and the daughter to move into a coloured section of Johannesburg. The question here is whether the hybrid outcome of the events signify anything for her and the child-apart from sheer survival.


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