“David Attwell gives a strikingly fresh and illuminating reading of a century of black South African writing. Lively, probing, theoretically sure-footed, generous in spirit, this book represents the very best of the new wave of South African scholarship and criticism.”
J. M. Coetzee
“The scholarship here is of the highest order, and it is presented in a readable and often gripping style, with factual detail and literary analysis at all times serving the purpose of the larger argument.... This is a richly detailed, theoretically sophisticated, elegantly written, and politically astute study.”
Derek Attridge, Research in African Literatures
“This is a richly detailed, theoretically sophisticated, elegantly written, and politically astute study that deserves a place on the shelves of anyone interested in the culture of South Africa, past or present.”
Derek Attridge, author of The Singularity of Literature
“For those of us who often teach aspects of South African literature, this is the book we have been waiting for.”
Zakes Mda, author of The Whale Caller
Rewriting Modernity: Studies in Black South African Literary History connects the black literary archive in South Africa—from the nineteenth-century writing of Tiyo Soga to Zakes Mda in the twenty-first century—to international postcolonial studies via the theory of transculturation, a position adapted from the Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz.
David Attwell provides a welcome complication of the linear black literary history—literature as a reflection of the process of political emancipation—that is so often presented. He focuses on cultural transactions in a series of key moments and argues that black writers in South Africa have used print culture to map themselves onto modernity as contemporary subjects, to negotiate, counteract, reinvent, and recast their positioning within colonialism, apartheid, and the context of democracy.
David Attwell is Chair of Modern Literature (post colonial studies) in the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York, United Kingdom. His previous work includes Doubling the Point: Essays and Interviews and J. M. Coetzee: South Africa and the Politics of Writing. More info →
Ch. 1: The transculturation of enlightenment — The Journal of Tiyo SogaDownload
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Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart provided the impetus for the foundation of Heinemann’s African Writers Series in 1962 with Achebe as the editorial adviser. Africa Writes Back presents portraits of the leading characters and the many consultants and readers providing reports and advice to new and established writers.
Why should Salman Rushdie describe his truth telling as an act of swallowing impure “haram” flesh from which the blood has not been drained? Why should Rudyard Kipling cast Kim, the imperial child–agent, as a body/text written upon and damaged by empire? Why should E. M. Forster evoke through the Indian landscape the otherwise unspeakable racial or homosexual body in his writing?
Sol Plaatje is one of South Africa’s most important political and literary figures. A pioneer in the history of the black press, he was one of the founders of the African National Congress, a leading spokesman for black opinion throughout his life, and the author of three well-known books: Mafeking Diary, Native Life in South Africa, and his historical novel, Mhudi.These books are not Plaatje’s only claim to fame.
Through an examination of metaphors that describe the trauma, loss, and suffering associated with the the transatlantic slave trade, Metaphor and the Slave Trade shows how the horrors of slavery are communicated from generation to generation and persist in West African discourse.
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