The Rise of the South African Novel

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The present volume is to date the only comprehensive study of the beginnings of narrative prose writing in South Africa, covering the period from the 1890s to the 1920s. As can only be expected from a multi-ethnic as well as multicultural society, a varied history like this does not lend itself to being presented as a narrative of literary development and change along a linear continuum. If literature is conceived of as a cultural activity whose task it is to process and reflect upon the social experience and the discourses prevalent in a given society, a context as diverse as the South African one can only give rise to a number of competing stories that refuse to be merged into a single and coherent literary history. The authors thus dealt with in more detail are Sol T. Plaatje, Thomas Mofolo, Douglas Blackburn, Olive Schreiner, Samuel E.K. Mqhayi, Herman Charles Bosman, Stephen Black, C.J. Langenhoven and Louis Leipholdt.

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Elmar Lehmann (*1940, †2022) was professor emeritus at the University of Duisburg-Essen from 1975 to 2006 where he also acted as Vice-Chancellor. He was the co-founder of the series African Literatures in English and co-director of the English Department's Southern African Studies Centre (both with Erhard Reckwitz). His study of the South African novel was completed shortly before his death.
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