Original Research

Bosman: A proto-postcolonial author?

Farzanah Loonate
Literator | Vol 43, No 1 | a1868 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v43i1.1868 | © 2022 Farzanah Loonate | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 January 2022 | Published: 20 May 2022

About the author(s)

Farzanah Loonate, Research Focus Area: Social Transformation, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Bosman scholars tend either to have focused on the humour and entertainment value of his works or to have leaned towards appreciation for the satirical quality of his writing and the serious political commentary that accompanies and underpins it. Building on these insights, the present study investigates Bosman’s preoccupation with South Africa’s politics in order to determine whether he could be classified a ‘proto-postcolonial author’. It discusses key features of postcolonial theory and writing and elucidates the term ‘proto-postcolonial’. It then analyses selected texts in terms of their political themes – five short stories from the collections Ramoutsa Road (1987), Unto Dust (1991) and the novel Willemsdorp (written in 1951, first published in 1977). The focus is on Bosman’s form of subtle protest against contemporary inequalities and injustices through his use of satire and techniques such as parody, irony and other linguistic and stylistic devices. Political themes that emerge from this analysis – including the detrimental effects of colonisation, racism, displacement, subjugation, repression and hybridity – are echoed and developed further in discussion of other, subsequent postcolonial writing. This study, therefore, reveals Bosman as a precursor of this later important body of literature and as a writer ahead of his times who has earned his place as a ‘proto-postcolonial’ author.


Herman Charles Bosman; postcolonial theory; proto-postcolonial author; English colonialism; South African War; apartheid; cultural hybridity; multiculturalism; linguistic hybridity; parody


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