Wretched, Ambiguous, Abject: Ordinary Ways of Being in Selected Works by Alex la Guma, Bessie Head, and J.M Coetzee

by Drbal, Susanna

Abstract (Summary)
This is an exploration of the possibilities for political literary resistance in South Africa. Alex La Guma's In the Fog of the Seasons' End, Bessie Head’s Maru, and J. M. Coetzee's Life and Times of Michael K, uncover the daily performance of national, ethnic, and racial affiliations that result in a shared experience of alienation, masks, and shifting allegiances. Rather than relying on the tradition of the "protest" novel, these authors move into the realm of what Njabulo Ndebele calls "the rediscovery of the ordinary." In applying Frantz Fanon to La Guma's novel, the depiction of the wretched conditions of oppressed life showcase a variety of human reactions to oppression. Using Homi Bhabha's idea of "national narration," Head’s Maru emerges as a search for national belonging, while Julia Kristeva's abjection serves to illuminate the mystical regression of Michael K in Coetzee's novel. Oppression is challenged through recognizing everyday alienation.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Ohio University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:south africa – literature coetzee j m head bessie la guma alex protest


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.