Identity In South African Literature

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South African history is defined through numerous migrations, political and racial violence, territorial conflict and a long-standing inter-ethnic rivalry. The disparate, widespread and complex origins of the South Africans have been an essential topic in the postcolonial literature. The identity of the colonizer and the colonized, the Self and the other, the center and the margin have been crucial concepts in postcolonial theory. The representation and construction of identity in South African Literature is unprecedented due to the structured policy of apartheid- making it the an icon of post colonialism. In order to represent the ‘othering’ and stereotypes two highly acclaimed white South African writers have been chosen; Olive Schreiner and John Maxwell Cootzee. Schreiner’s Thoughts on South Africa and Cooztee’s Foe are briefly analyzed in the context of colonialism and post colonialism. The legacy of the apartheid has had a strong influence on the South African literature promoting a one-eye form of consciousness in the early history of literature. The two literary works represent the South African identity crisis as well as changes in representation of identity in literature.

Identity entails qualities of repeatability, sameness and continuity; in addition to that it suggests otherness and difference. Therefore identity must be understood as the ‘product of discourse and history rather than something ahistorical and essential’ (van Wyk, 89). This chapter will delve
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