South African Gothic

South African Gothic

Anxiety and Creative Dissent in the Post-apartheid Imagination and Beyond

Rebecca Duncan


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The term ‘Gothic’ has rarely been brought to bear on contemporary South African fictions, appearing too fanciful for the often overtly political writing of apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. As the first book-length exploration of Gothic impulses in South African literature, this volume accounts for the Gothic currents that run through South African imaginaries from the late-nineteenth century onwards. South African Gothic identifies an intensification in Gothic production that begins with the nascent decline of the apartheid state, and relates this to real anxieties that arise with the unfolding of social and political change. In the context of a South Africa unmaking and reshaping itself, Gothic emerges as a language for long-suppressed histories of violence, and for ongoing experiences at odds with utopian images of the new democracy. Its function is interrogative and ultimately creative: South African Gothic challenges narrow conceptions of the status quo to drive at alternative, less exclusionary visions.