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Title:The pregnant man: race, difference and subjectivity in Alan Paton's Kalahari writing
Author:Wittenberg, HermannISNI
Periodical:The English Academy Review (ISSN 1753-5360)
Geographic terms:South Africa
Kalahari Desert
About person:Alan Stewart Paton (1903-1988)ISNI
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/10131752.2010.514983
Abstract:In South African imaginative writing and scholarly research, there is currently an extensive and wide-ranging interest in the 'Bushman', either as a tragic figure of colonial history, as a contested site of misrepresentation, or even as an exemplary model of environmental consciousness. Writing and research about 'Bushmen' has not only become pervasive in the academy, but also a site of controversy and theoretical contestation. It is in this context that this paper investigates the meaning and significance of 'Bushmen' for Alan Paton, one of South Africa's most well-known writers. Paton's writing is not usually associated with 'Bushman' studies, yet this article shows that the 'Bushman' became a highly charged and ambivalent figure in his imagination. Paton's problematic ideas are contextualized more carefully by looking at the broader context of South African letters. The article initially analyses Paton's representation of 'Bushmen' in his 'Lost city of the Kalahari' travel narrative (1956, published in 2005, Pietermaritzburg), and also discusses unpublished archival photographs. A study of the figure of the 'Bushman' throughout the entire corpus of his writing, ranging from early journalism to late autobiography, makes it possible to trace the shift of his views, enabling a reflection not only on Paton's thinking about racial otherness, but also an assesment of the extent to which his encounter with the Kalahari Bushmen destabilized his sense of self, finally also preventing the publication of the travelogue. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]