Post-Apartheid Gothic: White South African Writers and Space analyzes the representation of space in recent works by South African writers. By combining analytical tools borrowed from Gothic studies with geocritical and postcolonial approaches, Mélanie Joseph-Vilain assesses the literary mechanisms utilized by Damon Galgut, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Lauren Beukes, Justin Carwright, and Lynn Freed to negotiate the complexities of post-apartheid identities in their fiction. Joseph-Vilain argues that the literary representations of emblematic places, real or imagined (the home, the farm, the city or the “non-places” of dystopia), express and reveal anxieties linked to the sharing of space in post-apartheid South Africa. The text successively (re-)visits the places that have been shaping South African white writing since Olive Schreiner’s African Farm—in other words, its topoi, both in the etymological sense of “place” and in the literary sense of recurring themes or arguments. Joseph-Vilain argues that these Gothicized topoi have provided writers with tools to explore the deep anxieties generated by the redefinition of South African society as the Rainbow Nation. While focusing specifically on the South African avatars of the Gothic and their interaction with local forms and genres like the plaasroman, the text also discusses the impact of globalization on South African literary, cultural, social, and political identities.
Mélanie Joseph-Vilain is professor of postcolonial literatures and head of the research team “Individu et nation” for the TIL Research Center at the University of Burgundy in Dijon.
Chapter 1. The Sense of Place
Chapter 2. Unhomely homes
Chapter 3. Landscapes
Chapter 4. Cities: South African “Urban Gothic”
Chapter 5. Non-places
The Gothic genre has become extremely popular in South Africa since apartheid. Joseph-Vilai maintains that the eerie and disturbing qualities of Gothic writing express the anxieties of a troubled society, and she makes a strong case... Especially interesting is the author's discussion of the Gothic transformation of a keystone of South African white writing, the "farm novel." The last and most original chapter, "Non-Places," looks at science fiction and dystopian writing. Joseph-Vilain concedes that she is not a South African, but points out that an outsider can have special insights. She interrogates the explosively problematic term "white" with insight, and she skillfully balances theory and close reading. Including an extensive bibliography, helpful notes, and a thorough index, this will be an useful resource for those interested in South African writing. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates through faculty.