Эссе: Man's Fate in the Novels of Alex La Guma


Цена: 2 Скачать
Предмет:
Английский язык
Тип работы:
Эссе
Количество страниц:
12

... The naturalistic-deterministic influence is plain in A Walk in the Night, with its large cast of negligible characters driven to their various fates by social forces beyond their understanding. In the next three novels we see protagonists exerting their will more and more to grasp their fate and eventually, we are given to hope, to master it. In this sense the novels become progressively more political. Nevertheless, Zola's ideal of a novel with the certainty, the solidity, and the practical application of a work of science can be discerned, if we look carefully enough, behind all La Guma's work. His novels are recognizably the product of someone who has served an apprenticeship in the short story: they come close to observing the unities of space and time, and their characters are largely from a single milieu, the Colored working class and underworld of Cape Town. Whites appear mainly as police officers and prison guards: The Stone Country specifically develops a metaphor of South Africa as a prison in which prisoner and jailer are bound to each other by Hegelian chains, and for the metaphor a nominal white presence is sufficient.6 Until the fourth novel black African characters are few and minor. La Guma does not offer a representative social panorama. For simplicity I therefore call his antagonists Black and White.  3 Naturalism and Tragedy  A favoured mode among white South African writers has been tragedy (though Afrikaans writers have given much attention to the mythographic revision of history). Tragedy is typically the tragedy of interracial love: a white man and a black woman, or vice versa, fall foul of the law against miscegenation, or simply of white prejudice, and are destroyed or driven into exile. The overt content of the fable here is that love conquers evil through tragic suffering when such suffering is borne witness to in art; its covert content is the apolitical doctrine that defeat can turn itself, by the twist of tragedy, into victory.7 The tragic hero is the scapegoat who takes our punishment. By his suffering he performs a ritual of expiation, and as we watch in sympathy our emotions are purged, as Aristotle noted, through the operations of pity and terror. We leave the theatre or close the book   with new acquits of true experience from this great event, With peace and consolation & And calm of mind, all passion spent.  Religious tragedy reconciles us to the inscrutable dispensation by giving a meaning to suffering and defeat. As tragic art it also confers immortality: Oedipus and Lear may be destroyed by the gods, but we resurrect them ritually on our stage. An annual Shakespeare festival is as ritually appropriate as Easter. But necessity is blind, says Marx, only insofar as it is not understood. With Zola the novel becomes a laboratory in which man is the subject of the experiments and in which the new Marxian and Darwinian laws of fatality are traced. The laws of heredity and environment that send Clyde Griffiths to the electric chair are unfolded in an experimental novel by Theodore Dreiser called An American Tragedy. Clyde's fall still awakens tragic pity and terror in us, but it also awakens righteous anger and turns it upon society. ...