The paper argues that earlier literary designations—in this case, "South African literature"—have begun to be subsumed under a generalized category, postcolonial literature or literary studies. It is a category that has been given definitional purpose in North Atlantic literary and cultural institutions and is in danger of settling into orthodoxy: an orthodoxy that is somewhat removed from the palpability of human experience in any particular postcolony. An example is to be found in the treatment by influential postcolonial critics of Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee, whose concern with the ache of history is made subservient to the intricate abstractions of continental philosophy. If the "post-" paradigm wishes to retain purchase in contemporary times, it needs to establish a greater congruence than is current between a language of generality and its object of study, that is, the literary work.


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pp. 60-71
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