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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Executing the death sentence: law and justice in Alan Paton's 'Cry, the Beloved Country' and Nadine Gordimer's 'The House Gun'
Author:Lenta, PatrickISNI
Periodical:Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:capital punishment
About persons:Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014)
Alan Stewart Paton (1903-1988)ISNI
Abstract:By using literary texts to interrogate legal systems at particular historical moments, literature can question the claims to justice of such laws. The comparison of literary representations of the jurisprudence of the death penalty in Alan Paton's 'Cry, the Beloved Country' (1948) and Nadine Gordimer's 'The House Gun' (1998) is intended to interrogate the problem of law's closure and its correlative pretension to mastery during two historical moments characterized by uncertainty - the imposition of capital punishment in Paton's preapartheid South Africa and the abrogation of capital punishment in Gordimer's postapartheid context. The author investigates the extent to which the two novels fulfil the potential of literature to undermine law's self-assuredness, and the extent to which each reflects the tension between the contingent demands of emotion and rule, desire and legality, indeterminacy and closure, substantive justice and the omnitemporality of the law. Bibliogr., notes, ref.