Andrea Thorpe
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Peter Abrahams and Dan Jacobson
South African liberal humanists in postwar London
in South African London
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Chapter 1 examines writing by Peter Abrahams and Dan Jacobson, who both lived in London in the 1950s. Despite important differences, what these writers have in common is their affiliation, however ambivalent, with forms of liberal humanism, imbricated with their reading of canonic English literature. The chapter discusses the development of Peter Abrahams’s early works in 1940s London, the complex response to his 1954 memoir, Return to Goli (1954), and the representation of London’s Pan-African networks in A Wreath for Udomo (1956). The second section of this chapter explores the limits and uses of liberal humanism in postwar London, as presented in Dan Jacobson’s short story ‘A Long Way from London’ (1955). The comparison between the two writers affords a nuanced discussion of the entanglement of English education in South Africa with literature, liberal humanism and anti-racist and anti-colonial activism.

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South African London

Writing the metropolis after 1948


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