2 results for Dixon, Shelley May, VUW ResearchArchive, Masters

  • André Brink, Dissenter

    Dixon, Shelley May (2005)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This thesis provides a survey of the novels written in English by Afrikaans author, André Brink. It contextualises these texts in terms of the political and social issues of the era in which each was written. Specifically, it examines the ways in which the novels stand as a dissenting body of work against a particularly prescriptive and preclusive environment, challenging the racially prejudiced practices of apartheid South Africa and, later, challenging other forms of oppression in the post-apartheid nation. One of the most interesting aspects of Brink's work, I argue, is that his challenge comes from within the Afrikaner community. Discussion of the novels is concerned not merely with the literary treatment of a range of themes, but also with the worldly implications of this treatment, the ways in which Brink considers his questions about, and challenges to, authoritarianism. I argue that the oeuvre demonstrates Brink's developing social and political conscience, a series of 'rebirths' in which the artist is prompted to reconsider his role as an artist. I examine Brink's works from a number of perspectives and in relation to a number of central themes. My approach in looking at the oeuvre from different angles is highly suggestive of the problem as it plays out for Brink: he is unable to straightforwardly resolve the themes he treats, but refuses to concede defeat or retreat from the central issues. This, I suggest, is one of the most significant aspects of Brink's work - his willingness to continually reassess his environment and his response to it. He returns to favourite themes and considers the same issues from new perspectives and with new knowledge. The irresolution which defines his treatment allows the possibility for future investigation, a further dialectic interrogation of the issues in a new context. The works also trace the author's 'cultural conversation', a dialogue which both records and challenges the prescriptive and preclusive environment of apartheid South Africa. I extend this examination to include the post-apartheid novels, discussing the situation of the dissenting artist for whom the most obvious forms of authoritarianism have become defunct. Essentially, the thesis investigates the politics of writing as dissident politics and considers whether Brink's dissident project is a success and, indeed, whether dissent itself is viable.

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  • Shouting against Silence: André Brink's Voices of Truth

    Dixon, Shelley May (2002)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This thesis investigates the notion of 'Truth' upheld by the South African writer André Brink and discusses his deconstruction of the processes of truth-making. I argue that Brink understands fixed narratives, or received 'truth', as constructed to the detriment of alternative narratives, resulting in their subjugation and eventual loss. In response to authoritative discourses, Brink advocates an ongoing and evolving series of challenging narratives which refuse the closure of narrative possibilities. He urges a constant process of un-forgetting and remembering, a contestational activity that undermines the truth-claims of any oppressive group. Three central texts have been chosen as exemplary of Brink's directive to contest fixed truth claims. The first of these, Devil's Valley, offers an opportunity to examine the novelistic (and often postmodernist) blurring of distinctions between binary oppositions such as 'fact' and 'fiction', 'past' and 'present', 'real' and 'unreal'. In undermining the ostensibly dichotomous nature of these pairings, Brink challenges the bases upon which prejudicial systems such as the Apartheid regime rely. In doing so, he reveals the constructions behind both prejudice and hegemonic discourses, and ultimately undermines these foundations. Similarly, Imaginings of Sand provides a means by which to further explore Brink's engagement with prejudice, and most specifically, with the patriarchal oppression of women. I suggest that Brink's female narratives, in which multiplicity and endless possibility are foregrounded, again contest the constraints imposed by a dominant discourse, offering alternative versions. My final textual examination focuses on A Chain of Voices, in which both the polyphonic narration and the thematic content exemplify the concerns discussed previously Brink's usage of various imagery related to oppressive relationships, I claim, provides metaphors for the manner in which binary relationships are co-dependent, rather than dichotomous, undercutting the justifications associated with privileging certain narratives over others. Brink's Truth, I argue, involves an ongoing contestational process of narratorial imagining, a revisionary project central to both the prejudicial environment of Apartheid South Africa, in which much of Brink's work was written, and also to the larger context of prejudice in all its forms and geographical locations.

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