The oral-style South African short story in English : A.W. Drayson to H.C. Bosman

MacKenzie, Craig (1997) The oral-style South African short story in English : A.W. Drayson to H.C. Bosman. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This study is concerned with a particular kind of short story in South African English literature - a kind of story variously called the fireside tale, tall tale, yarn, skaz narrative, frame narrative, or (the term used in this study), the 'oral-sty Ie story.' This kind of story is characterised by the use of an internal narrator (a fictional narrator or storyteller figure), the cadences of his or her speaking voice, and a 'reporting' frame narrator. Stories by A. W. Drayson, Frederick Boyle, J. Forsyth Ingram, W. C. Scully, Percy FitzPatrick, Ernest Glanville, Perceval Gibbon, Francis Carey Slater, Pauline Smith, Aegidius Jean Blignaut and Herman Charles Bosman form the principal body of primary sources examined in this study. The Bakhtinian notion of "simple" and "parodistic" skaz narratives is deployed to analyse the increasing complexity to be discerned in the works by these writers, which roughly span the 100 years from the middle of the nineteenth century to the middle of the present century. A "simple" use of the skaz narrative is evident in the early or 'ur-South African' oral-style story, represented here by Drayson, Boyle and Ingram. With Scully and FitzPatrick the form is still used 'artlessly,' although the beginnings of a greater self-consciousness can be discerned. The' Abe Pike' tales by Glanville introduce a more complex use of the fictional narrator, a process taken a step further by Gibbon in his 'Vrouw Grobelaar' tales. With the latter, in particular, the complex or "parodistic" skaz narrative makes its advent in South African literature. The oral-style stories of Slater and Smith are largely a regression to the ear lier form, although there are aspects of their stories which anticipate Bosman. With Blignaut and Bosman, however, the South African oral-style story comes into its own. In their Hottentot Ruiter and Oom Schalk Lourens characters is invested all the complexity and 'double-voicedness' that was latent, and largely dormant, in the earlier oral-style narratives. Through Blignaut, and Bosman in particular, the South African oral-style story achieves its most economical, sophisticated and successful form of expression. The study concludes by looking briefly at the use of an oral style in short stories by black South African writers and argues that their stories are not, formally speaking, to be categorised alongside those by the other~ writers examined. The oral-style story, the study concludes, achieved its apogee in Bosman's Oom Schalk Lourens sequence and went into sharp decline after Bosman's death in 1951

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Short stories, South Africa, English
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Africa, Eastern Asia, Oceania > African languages and literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > English
ID Code:3322
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:06 Sep 2012 13:56
Last Modified:06 Sep 2012 13:56
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