Olive Schreiner and African Modernism : allegory, empire and postcolonial writing

Munslow Ong, J ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3200-683X 2017, Olive Schreiner and African Modernism : allegory, empire and postcolonial writing , Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures, 58 , Routledge, New York and Abingdon.

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This book works across established categories of modernism and postcolonialism in order to radically revise the periods, places and topics traditionally associated with anti-colonialism and aesthetic experimentation in African literature. The book is the first account of Olive Schreiner as a theorist and practitioner of modernist form advancing towards an emergent postcolonialism. The book draws on and broadens discussions in and around the blossoming field of global modernist studies by interrogating the conventionally accepted genealogy of development that positions Europe and America as the sites of innovation. It provides an original examination of the relationships between metaphor, postcolonialism and modernist experimentation by showing how politically and aesthetically innovative African forms rely on allegorical structures, in contrast to the symbolism dominant in Euro-American modernism. An original theoretical concept of the role of primitivism and allegory within the context of modernism and associated critical theory is proposed through the integration of postcolonial, Marxist, feminist and ecocritical approaches to literature. The book provides original readings of Schreiner’s three novels, Undine, The Story of an African Farm, and From Man to Man, in light of the new theory of primitivism in African literature by directly addressing the issue of narrative form. This argument is contextualised in relation to the work of other Southern African authors, in whose writings the impact of Schreiner’s politics and aesthetics can be traced. These authors include J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing, Solomon T. Plaatje and Zoë Wicomb, amongst others. This book brings the most current debates in modernist studies and primitivism into the field of postcolonial studies and contributes to a widening of the debates surrounding gender, race, empire and modernism.

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: Reviews: “An exceptionally important and superbly lucid book, which uses Olive Schreiner’s work to anchor its argument that Anglophone South African literature in the fin de siècle is ‘inaugurated as modernism’. This body of literature is foundationally modernist, Munslow Ong shows, not because it is in any sense derivative of European modernist writing (which some of it significantly predates, in any case), but because it registers the unevenness of experience in a colonial social formation moving from peripheral to semi-peripheral status in the capitalist world-system. The reading of Schreiner itself is incisive, brilliantly pitched and framed, demonstrating that Schreiner’s formal experimentalism and use of racialised primitivist tropes and allegory enable her to express radical, antiracist and anti-imperialist sentiments. But the book is significant also for the decisiveness and authority of its challenge to the still-dominant critical understanding that modernism is ultimately and fundamentally ‘European’ in its origins.” —Neil Lazarus, University of Warwick, UK “Too often Olive Schreiner is read as a scintillating oddity whose individual works are read in isolation from each other and from the various traditions with which they engage. This book provides a comprehensive reinterpretation of Olive Schreiner’s career as a conscious literary artist whose generic experimentation and imperialist critique justify her recognition as a pioneering figure in the global history of modernism.” —Simon Lewis, English at College of Charleston, USA
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Publisher: Routledge
Series Name: Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures
ISBN: 9781315677507 (ebook); 9781138935242 (hardback); 9780367376413 (paperback)
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Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Depositing User: JM Munslow Ong
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2017 11:18
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 20:44
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/43921

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