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Last Things: Essays on Ends and Endings

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Edited By Gavin Hopps, Stella Neumann, Sven Strasen and Peter Wenzel

This multidisciplinary collection brings together scholars from the fields of literature, theology and linguistics who question and extend our taken-for-granted conceptions of The End. It focuses on the ways in which endings are formally signaled in literature, and sets these alongside parallel studies in journalism and film. However, it is also concerned with larger philosophical and historical notions of closure, impermanence, rupture and apocalypse as well as the possibilities of «posthumous» being. It gives examples from fairytales, Byron, Longfellow, Dillard, Barnes and South African writers.
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“No correct epiphany”: On the Politics of Endings in South African Writing 1948–2000: Geoffrey V. Davis (Aachen)

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Geoffrey V. Davis (Aachen)

Abstract

This chapter traces the manner in which the fictional and theatrical work of South African reflects the political history of their country from the beginning of the apartheid era to the emergence of a democratic, non-racial society. It does so by focusing specifically on the versatility with which such writers have structured the endings of their works to comment upon the ongoing struggle against apartheid and, later, to debate its aftermath. Thus, in the South African context, the ending of a work of fiction can function as celebration of community, as warning, as assertion of the spirit of resistance, as confrontation with existential choices, and, indeed, as speculative reflection on whether the truth can ever be fully known.

If one has followed the development of the literature of South Africa, particularly since the National Party’s election victory in 1948, one will inevitably have been aware of the extent to which it has reflected and engaged with the conflicted social and political history of that country. Indeed, South African literature during the apartheid era often afforded the reader, and not least the reader overseas, critical insight into the ongoing crisis in the country and especially into the consciousness of those who implemented or suffered under a political system condemned by most of the rest of the world. The literature held up a mirror to society, and in so doing writers exposed themselves to censorship, repression and not infrequently exile. When...

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