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Drum Magazine (1951-1961): and the works of black South African writers associated with it

Rabkin, David (1975) Drum Magazine (1951-1961): and the works of black South African writers associated with it. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


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The upsurge of creative writing by black people in South Africa - as in other parts of Africa - in the period following the Second World War had its origin in two underlying social processes: the migration to the cities and the spreading of democratic and nationalist ideas as a result of the struggle against fascism. In South Africa, Drum magazine played a central part in recording the formation of the new urban culture as well as providing almost the sole platform for aspiring black authors. Urbanisation, racism and the political struggle of the African national movement against the systematic enforcement of apartheid shaped the thinking of black authors. There is a strong unity persisting through the reportage, documentary and protest writing and creative literature of the period. The literary critic must be aware of this, while discriminating between the limited achievements of writers such as Can Themba, Casey Motsisi, Bloke Modisane and Lewis Nkosi and the substantial work of Ezekiel Mphahlele and Alex La Guma. The work of the Coloured writers James Matthews, Peter Clarke and Richard Rive is best assessed within the context of the special place of the Coloured people in South Africa's racial hierarchy. The racial cleavage of South African society and the cultural under-development of the country as a whole have presented South African writers with some special problems and tasks. These derive from the absence of a cultural fabric embracing all sections of the population in a common system of thought and feeling, and linking them organically to their own history. South African authors have been hampered by the lack of an overall perspective of the experience of their people which could, potentially at least, call upon values which transcend the historical limits of'the settler colony. If the South African epic remains to be written, its achievement may be dependant upon the success of the black people's struggle to return, in Cabral's words, 'to their own history'.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.537912
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 02 May 2012 11:31
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:17
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2323

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