Original Research

The ‘other’ side of history as depicted in Isabel Allende’s Of Love and Shadows

M. Wenzel
Literator | Vol 17, No 3 | a618 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v17i3.618 | © 1996 M. Wenzel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 May 1996 | Published: 02 May 1996

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M. Wenzel, Department of English, Potchefstroom University for CHE, South Africa

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Abstract

The proceedings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa have once again foregrounded the trauma involved in reconstructing a past fraught with political and personal violence and have, at the same time, also illustrated the therapeutic quality of testimony. Literature has always played a vital role in the process of coming to terms with reality. As a woman within a postcolonial context, Isabel Allende bears witness to political oppression and gender discrimination in her novels. They serve as examples of testimonial literature which focus on the plight of women as marginalized citizens and represent a collective conscience in testimony to the atrocities of the past. This is accomplished through the interaction of her fictional characters with a recognizable historical context. In Of Love and Shadows, her female protagonist, Irene, asserts her individuality through writing/reporting which questions the validity of the male-oriented and so-called “objective” historical reportage. By creating disparate and complementary perspectives which accentuate the female/personal as well as the male/public aspects of experience, Allende proposes a recognition of the personal and the peripheral in the documentation of historical events; she underlines the validity of the “other” side of experience and history.

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