- Format: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-0-7190-8565-9
- Pages: 240
- Price: £16.99
- Published Date: March 2011
Nation' and 'literature' are always inherently unstable categories but, in the case of South Africa, this instability is particularly marked. This study considers the effects local and global networks had on the publication, promotion and reception of a series of key writers and their works between 1883 and 2005, asking: who published what, where, why, and how; how and why work was construed as 'South African', what this meant, and how it affected reading. Exploring new approaches to studying colonial and postcolonial print cultures, it seeks to redress inadequately historicised or transnationally situated studies of South African writing in English.
The book is absolutely essential reading for anyone with an interest in the fields of South African, African, and general colonial and postcolonial literatures and history, as well as those with an interest print and media cultures, and the History of the Book.
South African textual cultures is a wide-ranging study that traces out the 'biographies' of a number of important books (from Story of an African Farm to The Heart of Redness) on their journeys across national boundaries and through different historical moments. It is not enough, nor entirely accurate, to say that this is an important contribution to South African literary studies: South African textual cultures is, rather, the first major study to question the very category of 'South African literature' and to describe the process of its construction in a sustained, engaging, theoretically astute manner.
Meticulously researched and eloquently argued, this book brings fresh perspectives to the study of South African - and African - literature, making detailed use of publishers' archives and newspaper reviews to analyse the discourses and cultural networks in which literary texts are immersed. Van der Vlies usefully problematises the categories of the 'global' and the 'national,' and he draws attention to the diverse interpretive contexts in which anglophone South African literature is immersed. This book will provide inspiration to students and researchers, offering a methodology and a new set of questions for the study of postcolonial literatures.
List of plates and figures
List of Abbreviations
1. South African textual cultures
2. Farming stories (I): Olive Schreiner's fates
3. 'Hurled by what aim to what tremendous range': Roy Campbell, William Plomer, & the politics of reputation
4. Whose Beloved Country? Alan Paton and the hypercanonical
5. Alex La Guma's marginal aesthetics and the institutions of protest
6. Farming Stories (II): J. M. Coetzee & the (heart of a) country
7. Zakes Mda's novel educations
Afterword: white(s) and black(s), read all over
Andrew van der Vlies is lecturer in postcolonial literature in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary, University of London.