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  • The Hybridity of South African Working-Class Literature

    Małgorzata Drwal

    Chapter from the book: Lennon J. & Nilsson M. 2020. Working-Class Literature(s) Volume II: Historical and International Perspectives.

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    In this chapter I present an overview of the most prominent trends in South African working-class literature from the beginning of the 20th century until 1994. Since its emergence, South African working class was a heterogeneous formation which encompassed diverse ethnicities, both of European and non-European origin. Each of them created its own literature and culture, using various languages, incorporating traditional elements and means of expression, and merging them with borrowed foreign discourses and literary devices belonging to the repertoire of socialist literature that had been created mostly in the Soviet Union, the USA and other European countries. Consequently, South African working-class literature can be conceived of as conglomerate of heteroglot hybrid forms and manifestations of a subversive counter-discourse of protest literature. The forms presented here include writings of European socialists commenting on South African situation, novels utilizing the Jim goes to Joburg plot pattern, drama incorporating the Soviet socialist realism and references to the Afrikaans farm novel, Afrikaans folk tunes functioning as protest songs, and black workers praise poetry based on tribal oral conventions. As a carrier of a new working-class identity, this literature promoted a modern urban model which, nevertheless, relied on the continuity with local rural traditions.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Drwal, M. 2020. The Hybridity of South African Working-Class Literature. In: Lennon J. & Nilsson M (eds.), Working-Class Literature(s) Volume II. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bbf.g

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Dec. 21, 2020


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