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Editing and novel: conditions and findings of innovation in the new English language literature of Democratic South Africa. The case of Kwela, Cape Town. 1994-2004

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ID: <10670/1.o0gxwf>


the advent of democratic South Africa frees up the fiction of its urgent subjects and, by making it possible or necessary to break allegiance to politics, opens up innovative prospects for the Roman field in English, a space first invested, particularly in aesthetic terms, by seeking forms in line with the new and multiple national identity. The ways in which literary and national facts interact in an unprecedented way are examined here from a perspective which takes account of the editorial dimension as an indirect actor in literary creation. The case of Kwela, a small publishing house founded in Cape Town in 1994, in a space that had hitherto been that of alternative publishers, allows for an in-depth analysis in the sense that it remains stable over a decade when the national edition has undergone major structural adjustments. The novels borrowed from Kwela’s publications over a period covering the first two five-year years of the young democracy are compared with the publications of the publishing multinationals or their subsidiaries, in a way which seeks to highlight the specific nature of their respective innovations and, by doing so, to identify the trends in which they form part. The questions explored by the novel in English are organised more or less directly around the effects of South African national construction and its multiple facets in a variety of ways, but whose common dynamic is based on the exploration of the formal paradox of a South African identity on the move, between an assertive national unity and the recognised but complex diversity of its components. It is, it seems, essentially through this dynamic that the South African novel in English has, over the decade, found the main elements of his creativity, aesthetically, in his perspective of history or in his understanding of contemporary South Africa.

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