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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Bessie Head's Perspectives on Women
Author:James, AdeolaISNI
Year:1996
Periodical:African Notes: Bulletin of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Volume:20
Issue:1-2
Pages:21-37
Language:English
Geographic terms:Botswana
South Africa
Subjects:women
literature
About person:Bessie Amelia Head (1937-1986)ISNI
Abstract:The South African writer Bessie Head, who died in 1986 at the age of 48 years, published novels, short stories, and a book based on oral traditions. Her works reflect her concern about the position of women and their oppression in traditional society as well as under the political system of colonialism. This paper applies a feminist approach to the critique of Bessie Head's works. Women writers like Bessie Head reversed the invisibility and voicelessness of women in literature and fought against a culture of silence. Women writers have dramatized the double burden of African women, who are not only oppressed by the twin mode of capitalism and colonialism, but also by men. The paper summarizes and quotes Bessie Head's three novels 'When rain clouds gather', 'Maru', and 'A question of power', and her collection of short stories, in order to illustrate the three preoccupations that direct and empower Head's fictional world: the dehumanizing of black people in South Africa, the experiences of women under oppression, and the individual's struggle for self-liberation. The message that comes through Head's works of fiction is that life is a spiritual journey towards liberation and enlightenment, and that suffering sanctifies the oppressed whilst it disfigures the oppressor. Notes, ref.
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