Anti-Apartheid Literature Criticism: Overviews - Essay

Nadine Gordimer (essay date 1976)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gordimer, Nadine. “English-Language Literature and Politics in South Africa.” In Aspects of South African Literature, edited by Christopher Heywood, pp. 99-120. London: Heinemann, 1976.

[Gordimer, who in 1991 received the Nobel Prize in literature, was a seminal literary figure in the anti-apartheid movement. Throughout her career, her novels and short stories have emphasized the dehumanizing effects of the apartheid system. In addition, she is also known for her many polemical and scholarly essays on censorship and the relationship between literature and politics. In the following essay, Gordimer provides an overview of Anglophone South African writing, focusing on literature...

(The entire section is 9698 words.)

Robert Mshengu Kavanagh (essay date 1985)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kavanagh, Robert Mshengu. “The Development of Theatre in South Africa up to 1976.” In Theatre and Cultural Struggle in South Africa, pp. 43-58. London: Zed Books, 1985.

[In the following essay, Kavanagh provides a history of the theater in South Africa from the inception of apartheid through the uprisings in Soweto and other black urban areas in 1976. He traces multiracial collaborations before and during the entertainment segregation laws of the 1960s, the influence of Bantu and Zulu oral traditions as well as European models, and the emergence of the Black Consciousness movement in the early 1970s. The early careers and influence of Ezekiel Mphahlele and Athol Fugard are...

(The entire section is 7932 words.)

Kenneth Parker (essay date December 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Parker, Kenneth. “Apartheid and the Politics of Literature.” Red Letters 20 (December 1986): 12-33.

[In the following essay, Parker discusses liberal and Marxist resistance to the apartheid state as represented in the writings of Alex La Guma, Bessie Head, Athol Fugard, Nadine Gordimer, and Nelson Mandela, among others.]

All recent evidence—the events themselves, the pronouncements about them, the speculations about outcomes, the re-adjustments by the main actors—point inexorably to one inescapable future: that the apartheid state which has existed in more or less its present form since 1948 (and has its antecedents in policies of domination based on...

(The entire section is 6462 words.)

Anne McClintock (essay date spring 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: McClintock, Anne. “‘Azikwelwa’ (We Will Not Ride): Politics and Value in Black South African Poetry.” Critical Inquiry 13, no. 3 (spring 1987): 597-623.

[In the following essay, McClintock provides a history of protest poetry under apartheid and examines what she calls the “new forms of artistic creation” that emerged out of the Soweto uprisings of 1976. She pays particular attention to the relationship between the collective oral poetry produced in the black townships and Staffrider magazine, which was founded in 1978 to publish these poems, and, in so doing, challenge white South African cultural values.]

In the colonial...

(The entire section is 11142 words.)