Itala Vivan




1. Evan Carton and Gerald Graff, "Criticism since 1940", The Cambridge History of American Literature, general editor Sacvan Bercovitch, vol. 8, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1996, pp. 439 ff.
2. See Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture, London, Routledge, 1994.
3. The question has been approached elsewhere; see especially Emile Boonzaier, "L'eredità del razzismo: la lezione dell'apartheid", cap.VII, pp. 231-266, in Itala Vivan, ed., Il Nuovo Sudafrica dalle strettoie dell'apartheid alle difficoltà della democrazia, Firenze, La Nuova Italia, 1996.
4. Rider Haggard, King Solomon's Mines, London 1885.
5. Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm, London, Chapman Hall, 1883, under the pseudonym 'Ralph Iron'. The Preface appeared in the second edition, and is quoted from the Penguin edition, Harmondsworth, 1984, pp.27-28. All further references are to this edition and are included in the text.
6. Nadine Gordimer, None to Accompany Me, London, Bloomsbury, 1994. For a detailed analysis of the novel and its significance in the career of the writer, see Itala Vivan, Nadine Gordimer, Torino, Utet, 1995.
7. John M. Coetzee, White Writing. On the Culture of Letters in South Africa, New Haven, Yale University Press, p. 65. For useful analyses of Schreiner's novel, see also Michael Chapman, Southern African Literatures, London, Longman, 1996; and Itala Vivan, "The Treatment of Blacks in The Story of an African Farm", in Itala Vivan, ed., The Flawed Diamond. Essays on Olive Schreiner, Sydney/Aarhus/London, Dangaroo Press, 1991, pp.95-106.
8. The word 'kaffir' (from the Arabic, = pagan, non believer), which later took on a derogative value, at the time was used to indicate black Africans in general; Bushmen and Hottentots, terms that are now highly derogative, indicated respectively the populations now defined as San and Khoikhoi, following the rules of political correctness.
9. Olive was eighteen to twenty year old when she wrote the novel, and twenty-eight when she published it.
10. A 'kopje' is a heap of stones, a little rocky hill in the open karoo.
11. Her beloved dog.
12. See J. M.Coetzee, cit., "The Picturesque, the Sublime and the South African Landscape", pp.36-63.
13. Jodocus Hondius, A Clear Description of the Cape of Good Hope, translated by L. C. van Oordt, Cape Town, Van Rieebeck Festival Book Exhibition Committee, 1952, pp. 26-28. The hint at the strangeness of the language indicates that the people observed here are Khoisan, whose non Bantu languages were based on clicks. The description was originally compiled in 1652 for the publishing house of Jodocus Hondius in Amsterdam, on the basis of first hand reports by European travellers.
14. Christopher Fryke, visit to the Cape in 1685, reported in R. Raven-Hart, Cape Good Hope 1652-1702: The First Fifty Years of Dutch Colonisation as Seen by Callers, 2 vols, Cape Town, Balkema, 1971, vol.2, p.259.
15. William Plomer, Turbott Wolfe, originally published in 1926 by the Hogarth Press of Leonard and Virginia Woolf in London. All future references to this book are from the AD. Donker edition, Johannesburg 1980, ed. by Stephen Gray, which also contains a useful survey of South African criticism to the novel. Plomer, together with Laurens van der Post and Roy Campbell, founded the literary journal Voorslag, which shocked and upset the colonial society of the time. Also van der Post and Campbell's writings would be interesting to analyse for their perception of blacks.
16. Michael Chapman, op. cit., p.182.
17. In this context, one is reminded of the English speaking South African poet Guy Butler who at a later time gave voice to the difference felt by the colonial mind in Africa, not yet 'absorbed' by a common language,
"I have not found myself on Europe's maps…
I must go back to my five simple slaves
To soil still savage, in a sense still pure:
My loveless, shallow land of artless shapes
Where no ghosts glamourize the recent graves
And every thing in Space and Time just is:
What similes can flash across those gaps
Undramatized by sharp antithesis?" (from Home Thoughts).
18. Sarah Gertrude Millin, God's Step-Children, London, Constable, 1924. The edition used here, from which all future references are taken, appeared in Johannesburg with AD. Donker in 1986, with an Introduction by Tony Voss, pp.7-17.
19. John M. Coetzee, op. cit., 'Blood, Taint, Flaw, Degeneration', p. 138.
20. Ibidem, p. 144.
21. Valentin Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa. Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1988, p. 17.
22. I was once told a story by the novelist Richard Rive, who, being introduced to Millin as a young and promising writer , saw her frown and look puzzled (Richard was Coloured, but looked rather like a very dark-skinned Indian), and heard her ask: 'And you, my dear…, what are you?' 'I am one of your step-children, Madam', Richard promptly replied.
23. Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country, London, Jonathan Cape, 1948; all references here are to the Penguin edition, Harmondsworth, 1977. The book has been fiercely attacked by South African critics for its sentimentality, paternalism and political naiveté: see Lewis Nkosi, Home, Exile, and Other Selections, London, Longmans, 1965, and Stephen Watson, "Cry, the Beloved Country and the Failure of the Liberal Vision", English in Africa, 9, 1, May 1982. Of course by 1948 there were not a few works of fiction by black writers where the presentation of blacks counteracted difference and marginalization, by speaking out of a 'true' context: there were, besides the works in African languages, those written in English by Sol T. Plaatje (Mhudi, 1930), Peter Abrahams (Dark Testament, 1942; Song of the City, 1945; Mine Boy, 1946).
24. If he were still alive, Paton would certainly be a prominent figure within the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation which is presently at work in South Africa, and probably would transform it into a Commission for Downright Reconciliation.
25. See the perceptive analysis of Paton's "phantom Zulu" language in John M. Coetzee, op. cit., 'Simple Language, Simple People: Smith, Paton, Mikro', pp. 115-136.
26. Ibidem, p. 128.
27. Nadine Gordimer, Face to Face, Johannesburg, Silver Leaf, 1949; The Lying Days, London: Gollancz, 1953: all future references to this novel are from the Virago edition, London 1983. From the comparatively wide range of critical work on this writer, I have used mainly I.Vivan, Nadine Gordimer, cit., and Stephen Clingman, The Novels of Nadine Gordimer: History from the Inside, Johannesburg, Ravan, 1986. I owe Stephen Clingman the title I gave this section of my paper, from S. Clingman, "Writing from a Fractured Society. The Case of Nadine Gordimer", in Landeg White and Tim Couzens, eds., Literature and Society in South Africa, Cape Town, Maskew Miller Longman, 1984, pp. 161-175.
28. Nadine Gordimer, A World of Strangers, London, Gollancz, 1958. All future references to this novel are from the Penguin edition, Harmondsworth, 1984.
29. Nadine Gordimer, The Late Bourgeois World, London, Jonathan Cape, 1966. All future references to this novel are from the Penguin edition, Harmondsworth, 1985.
30. Nadine Gordimer, "Living in the Interregnum", lecture given in 1982 and included in The Essential Gesture: Writing, Politics and Places, ed. S. Clingman, London, Jonathan Cape, 1988.
31. John M. Coetzee, Dusklands, Johannesburg, Ravan, 1974; all future references are from the edition London, Martin Secker and Warburg, 1982.
32. John M. Coetzee, ed. by David Atwell, Introduction to Doubling the Point: Essays and Interviews/John M. Coetzee, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1994; see also David Atwell, John M. Coetzee: South Africa and The Politics of Writing, Berkeley,The University of California Press, 1993, and Rosemary Jane Jolly, Colonization, Violence and Narration in White South African Writing: André Brink, Breyten Breytenbach, and J. M. Coetzee, Athens, Ohio, Ohio University Press, 1996.
33. Nadine Gordimer, None to Accompany Me, London, Bloomsbury, 1994.
34. William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, II, i, 25.
35. Mongane Wally Serote, "Dor Don M. - Banned", from Tsetlo (1974), in Selected Poems, AD. Donker, Johannesburg, 1982, p. 52.
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