- GEOGRAPHY, LITERATURE AND THE
AFRICAN TERRITORY. SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE WESTERN MAP AND THE
REPRESENTATION OF TERRITORY IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN LITERARY
- 1. On this aspect, see the interesting
historical survey of geographic thought in classic antiquity in
James S. Romm, The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought.
Geography, Exploration, and Fiction, Princeton, Princeton
University Press, 1992; and also Francesco Prontera, "Prima di
Strabone: materiali per uno studio della geografia come genere
letterario", in Strabone: contributi allo studio della
personalità e dell'opera, vol. 1, ed. by Francesco
Prontera, Ist. di Storia Antica, Med. e Mod., Facoltà di
Lettere e Filosofia, Università di Perugia, 1984, pp.
- 2. Umberto Eco, "Sofri e l'onere della
prova", Micromega 3:97, January-September, p. 250. The
translation from Italian is mine.
- 3. Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno
Concluded (1893), from The Works of Lewis Carroll,
London, Spring Books, 1965, pp. 608-609.
- 4. Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad
(1875), New York, Harper and Brothers, 1924, p.
- 5. Edgar Allan Poe, The Purloined
Letter (1844), in Edgar Allan Poe, Poetry and Tales,
New York, The Library of America, 1984, p. 694.
- 6. Joseph Conrad, Heart of
Darkness (1895), from the Penguin Classics edition,
Harmondsworth, 1974, pp. 11-12.
- 7. Swift's well known passage is quoted
and commented upon by Graham Huggan, "Decolonizing the Map:
Post-Colonialism, Post-Structuralism, and the Cartographic
Connection", in Ariel, 20, October 1989, pp. 115-131; here
from p. 120.
- 8. Ibidem, p. 119; see also Homi
K. Bhabha, "Of Mimicry and Man: the Ambivalence of Colonial
Discourse", in October, 28, 1983, later collected in Homi K.
Bhabha, The Location of Culture, London and New York,
Routledge, 1994, pp. 85-92.
- 9. See especially, by Edward Said,
Orientalism, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978; but
also, by the same author, The World, the Text, the Critic,
Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1983, and Culture
and Imperialism, London, Chatto and Windus,
- 10. See Leo Marx, The Machine in the
Garden. Technology and the Pastoral Idea in America, New York,
Oxford University Press, 1964; Cecelia Tichi, New World, New
Earth. Environmental Reform in American Literature from the
Puritans through Walt Whitman, New Haven, Yale University
- 11. John Hector St. John de
Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer, London,
Thomas Davis, 1782 (with maps); see Itala Vivan, "L'Autre et son
entrée dans le text européen. Naissance and
rénaissance du regard américain", in La rencontre
des immaginaires entre Europe et Amérique, ed.
Jean-Jacques Wunenberger, Paris, L'Harmattan, 1993, pp. 155-165.
Before he moved to the English colonies in America,
Crèvecoeur served as a cartographer with the French army in
Canada. His direct knowledge of native American populations was
quite remarkable and can be inferred from, among other things, his
last book, published in 1801, Voyage dans la Haute Pennsylvanie
et dans l'Etat de New-York, par un membre adoptif de la nation
Onéida. Traduit et publié par l'auteur des Lettres
d'un cultivateur américain, Paris; Imprimerie de
Crapelet, 3 vols., with splendid maps and illustrations. It is now
accepted that Crèveceour was the primary source for part of
the famous Voyage en Amérique by
François-René de Chateaubriand (1827) and earlier
for Les Natchez by the same author (1826). Among the
textual elements proving a derivation from Crèvecoeur we
find a usage of maps as reference points - once again, the text is
construed on the map and around it.
- 12. Among the vast literature on this
subject, see Valentin Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa.
Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge, Bloomington,
Indiana University Press, 1994. On virtual space of the colonial
encounter as a 'contact zone', see Marie Louise Pratt, Imperial
Eyes. Travel Writing and Transculturation, London and New
York, Routledge, 1992.
- 13. Flaubert organizes his tale on the
grid of a very precise map of ancient Carthage and evokes a
powerful fictional space, to which he adds an important historical
setting, based - as we now know very well - on an extremely
accurate background documentation.
- 14. See Franco Moretti, Atlante del
romanzo europeo 1800-1900, Turin, Einaudi, 1997, pp. 61-68,
where in the colonial novel with an African setting the author
finds a linear fable leading to a 'finding': a treasure, diamonds,
the witch-woman ("a kind of equatorial Dracula", writes Moretti)
or the European Prisoner, as in Heart of Darkness, with a
variation on the finding of David Livingstone by Henry
- 15. Olive Schreiner, The Story of an
African Farm, London, Chapman and Hall, 1883; here from the
Penguin Books edition, Harmondsworth 1971, pp.
- 16. On this point James M. Coetzee gives
a very perceptive analysis in White Writing. On the
Culture of Letters in South Africa, New Haven, Yale University
Press, 1988; see especially "The Picturesque, the Sublime, and the
South African Landscape", pp. 36-62, and "Farm Novel and
Plaasroman", pp. 63-81.
- 17. See Christopher Heywood, "The
Story of an African Farm: Society, Positivism and Myth", in
Itala Vivan, ed., The Flawed Diamond. Essays on Olive
Schreiner, Sydney/Aarhus/Coventry, Dangaroo Press, 1991, pp.
26-39; and also Itala Vivan, "The Treatment of Blacks in The
Story of an African Farm", ibidem, pp. 95-106.
- 18. John M. Coetzee, In the Heart of
the Country, London, Secker and Warburg, 1977; here from the
Penguin Books edition, Harmondsworth 1982.
- 19. Ibidem, pp.
- 20. Ibidem, p. 5.
- 21. Ibidem, p.
- 22. Pauline Smith, The Little
Karoo, London, Jonathan Cape, 1925 (Introduction by Arnold
Bennett), and The Beadle, London, Jonathan Cape, 1926.
Smith however left South Africa when she was sixteen and wrote her
novels in England.
- 23. Nadine Gordimer, The
Conservationist, London, Jonathan Cape, 1972. Gordimer's novel
July's People (London, Jonathan Cape, 1981) is also
relevant if we look for a textual representation of the African
territory. On this matter see Itala Vivan, "Gli scrittori
sudafricani nella transizione verso il nuovo", in Itala Vivan,
ed., Il Nuovo Sudafrica dalle strettoie dell'apartheid alle
complessità della democrazia, Florence, La Nuova
Italia, 1996, pp. 333-374.
- 24. Sipho Sepamla, The Land, in The
Soweto I Love, London, Rex Collings, and Cape Town, David
Philip, 1977, p. 17.
- 25. Rushdie's striking definition has
become the title for a founding analysis of postcolonial
literatures, The Empire Writes Back. Theory and Practice in
Post-Colonial Literatures, ed. by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth
Griffiths, Helen Tiffin, London and New York, Routledge,
- 26. See Liz Gunner, "Names and the Land.
Poetry of Belonging and Unbelonging, a Comparative Approach", in
Kate Darian-Smith, Liz Gunner, Sarah Nuttall, eds, Text,
Theory, Space. Land, Literature and History in South Africa and
Australia, London and New York, Routledge, 1996, pp.
- 27. Ancient chronicles and historical
documents prove that the areas mentioned here were densely
populated by African people characterized by settlement
- 28. Oral texts transcribed, and quoted
and translated by Liz Gunner, op. cit., p.
- 29. Ibidem.
- 30. Ibidem.
- 31. Ibidem, p.
- 32. Mongane Wally Serote, City
Johannesburg, in Yakhal'inkomo, Johannesburg, Ad. Donker,
1972, p. 12.
- 33. On this issue see, among other
critics, Jeff Opland, Xhosa Oral Poetry. Aspects of a South
African Black Tradition, Johannesburg, Ravan, 1983; and
Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane, Introduction to Mongane Wally Serote,
Selected Poems, cit., pp. 7-14.
- 34. Sipho Sepamla, Soweto, in
The Soweto I Love, cit., pp. 22-24.
- 35. Sipho Sepamla, Home, in
The Soweto I Love, cit., p. 15.
- 36. Sipho Sepamla, Measure for
Measure, in The Soweto I Love, cit., p. 14.
- 37. H.I.E. Dhlomo, Valley of a
Thousand Hills (1941), in Voices from Within. Black Poetry
from Southern Africa, ed. by Michael Chapman and Achmat
Danghor, Johannesburg, Ad. Donker, 1982, pp. 54ff.
- 38. See on this matter the philosophic
analysis of such experts as Barry Hallen, Knowledge, Belief and
Witchcraft. Analytic Experiment in African Philosophy, London,
Ethnographica, 1986; Tsenay Senequeberhan, The Hermeneutics of
African Philosophy. Horizon and Discourse, New York and
London, Routledge, 1994; and Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze, ed.,
Postcolonial African Philosophy. A Critical Reader, Oxford,
- 39. See Christopher L. Miller, "Literary
Studies and African Literature. The Challenge of Intercultural
Literacy", in Robert H. Bates, Valentin Y. Mudimbe, Jean O'Barr,
eds, Africa and the Disciplines. The Contribution of Research
in Africa to the Social Sciences and Humanities, Chicago, The
University of Chicago Press, 1993, pp. 213-33.
- 40. A negative example may be the essay
by Guglielmo Scaramellini "Raffigurazione dello spazio e
conoscenza geografica: i resoconti di viaggio", in Elisa Bianchi,
ed., Geografie private. I resoconti di viaggio come lettura del
territorio, Milano, Unicopli, 1985, p. 59.
- 41. Both novels were printed by
missionary typographies in expurgated versions: Thomas Mofolo,
Chaka, Morjia, Basotholand, Paris Evangelical Missionary Society,
1925; Solomon T. Plaatje, Mhudi, Lovedale Press, 1930. The
chapters lost in the first edition of Chaka were never
recovered, while the original and complete manuscript of
Mhudi was found fifty years later in the store of the
Lovedale Press and published in 1975 by the Quagga Press and then
by Heinemann in London, editors Tim Couzens and Stephen Gray. Both
novels had been written years before the dates of publication,
Chaka around 1909 and Mhudi by 1918.
- 42. Thomas Mofolo, Chaka,
translated by Daniel Kunene, London, Heinemann, 1981, p.
- 43. Ibidem, p. 3.
- 44. Ibidem.
- 45. Solomon T. Plaatje, Mhudi,
ed. by Stephen Gray, Introduction by Tim Couzens, London,
Heinemann, 1978, p. 25.
- 46. Ibidem, p.
- 47. John Ruskin, Lecture I, 'Inaugural',
Lectures on Art, lesson given at the Slade School in 1870,
- 48. Mhudi, cit., p. 28.
- 49. Sol. T. Plaatje published Book of
Homage to Shakespeare (Oxford, 1916) and translated into
Tswana, under the general heading of Mabolelo a ga
Tsikinya-Chaka (The Sayings of William Shakespeare), the
following Shakespearean plays: The Comedy of Errors
(Diposhoposho, publ. 1929), Julius Caesar (Dincho-ncho tsa
bo-Juliuse Kesara), The Merchant of Venice (Mashoabi-shoabi), Much
Ado about Nothing (Matsepa-tsepa a Lefela), Othello and Romeo and
Juliet. Of the last four titles, only fragments have
- 50. Chaka, cit., p.
- 51. Ibidem, p.
- 52. Mhudi, cit., pp.
- 53. Wilma Stockenström, Africa
Love, "Vir die Bysiende Leser", Reijger, 1970; translated from
Afrikaans by Johann de Lange.
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