William Plomer's and Sol Plaatje's South Africa : art as vision and reality

Ogu, Memoye Abijah (1995) William Plomer's and Sol Plaatje's South Africa : art as vision and reality. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This thesis essays a compar ative study of William Pl omer's Turbott Wolfe (1925) and Sol Plaatje's Mhudi (1930) . Although writing from very different subject positions wit hi n the socia l order of the time, Plomer and Plaatje embody in their novels a striki ngly s i mil ar visi on of a South Africa free of racial barriers . Plaatje's version of South African history in Mhudi deconstructs colonial bi narism by dramati z ing not only conflic t and difference but a l so co-operation and commonality . Holding the past up as a mirror to the pr esent, it protests agai nst racial injustice while implying the continuing possibilit y of reconciliation. Plomer reacts angrily to white hypocrisy and i nsists on the rights and humanity of his African characters, in the name of imperatives both moral and political . He seeks addi tional sanction for t hese by s i tuating the South Af rican race question i n the cont ext of a Western world s l owl y awake ni ng t o t he consequences of modernity . During a time of poli t ical t urbulence, both writer s speak out boldly and confidently against the r isi ng dominance of segregationist ideology. The imminent inception of full democracy in Sout h Afri ca has r eanimated the relevance of these writers' vision of a ' non- racial social order . If one of t he chall e nges facing the Sout h African l i t erary hi storian 'today i s t he r econstruction of a truly national l iterary tradi t ion, then Mhudi and Turbott Wolfe would appear to be key works in such an enterprise . As di fferent as iii Plaatje's epic myth-maki ng is from Plomer's modernist irony, both novels contrive to speak with a new voice: a national voice which expresses the aspirations of all South Africa ' s people. They are, moreover, novels whose survival seems guaranteed as much by their aesthetic qualities as by their ideological orientation. The novels are examined against the backgrounds of South African society and colonial literary production. They are seen as milestones i n the development of a liberal South African l iterary t r adition . By breaking with the dominant opposit ional mode, whether that of "white writi ng" or an emergent "writing black", Plomer and Pl aatje exemplify a literature at once socially relevant and possessed of a prophe'tic vision that remains of significance in South Africa today

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:William Plomer, Sol Plaatje, Race, Literature, South Africa
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > English
Supervisors:Cornwell, Gareth
ID Code:3888
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:30 Oct 2012 09:27
Last Modified:30 Oct 2012 09:27
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