Original Research

And a Threefold Cord: La Guma’s neglected masterpiece?

G. Cornwell
Literator | Vol 23, No 3 | a343 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v23i3.343 | © 2002 G. Cornwell | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 2002 | Published: 06 August 2002

About the author(s)

G. Cornwell, Department of English, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

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For a variety of reasons (including its publication history), Alex la Guma’s second novel And a Threefold Cord (1964) has long been neglected by readers and critics. This essay seeks to redress this situation by offering a reading of the novel that demonstrates its artistic integrity. Like A Walk in the Night, And a Threefold Cord avoids the overt propagandizing that arguably mars La Guma’s later work. The political “message” of the text is shown to emerge organically from events that unfold in its presented world. And a Threefold Cord is set in a Cape Flats shantytown, and it analyses the predicament of the shanty dwellers in terms of class inequality and economic exploitation, rather than in terms of racial discrimination. This ensures the novel’s continuing relevance in a South Africa where far too many people are inadequately housed in ever-growing “informal settlements”.


La Guma And A Threefold Cord Works By Alex La Guma; Marxism And Literature; Protest Writing


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