Original Research

The evolution of critical responses to Fugard’s work, culminating in a feminist reading of The Road to Mecca

V. Bowker
Literator | Vol 11, No 2 | a797 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v11i2.797 | © 1990 V. Bowker | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 May 1990 | Published: 06 May 1990

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V. Bowker, University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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Abstract

An ongoing debate in South Africa today concerns the response of white writers, such as Athol Fugard, to the African/South African socio-historical context. As a major focus of this debate there is a relationship between history and literature, and selected critical responses to Fugard’s work of the past three decades are investigated in terms of their position regarding this relationship. All these responses, regardless of their political and/or Hterary affiliations were found to imply that some kind of truth, their truth can be represented in a fictional text. In response to this implied truth claim and in particular to certain critics’ demand for a “concrete” history, the founding insight of poststructuralism about the inability of language to reflect an already existing reality is used to justify the following approach to Fugard’s The Road to Mecca: history is merely one discourse among many without any privileged claim to primacy; Fugard’s texts, read as history, is therefore approached in the context of South African discourses competing in the game of power relations, thus justifying the feminist reading resulting from an analysis of the competing discourses in the text.

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