Securing the past
Self-reflexive, retrospective narratives of London in J.M. Coetzee’s Youth and Justin Cartwright’s In Every Face I Meet
in South African London
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The fourth chapter deals with two post-apartheid texts by South African writers: Justin Cartwright’s In Every Face I Meet (1995) and J. M. Coetzee’s Youth (2002). In his London-based ‘autrebiography’, Coetzee considers the complex relationship between the ‘white writer’ and South Africa. In Every Face I Meet draws intertextually on William Blake’s poem ‘London’ to explore issues of racism, social inequality and colonial legacies in 1980s and early 1990s London. The chapter explores how these texts present the imbrication of race discourses and racisms from London, South Africa and other spaces in both the 1960s when immigration from former British colonies increased (Coetzee) and during the state-sanctioned racism of Margaret Thatcher’s tenure (Cartwright). Furthermore, in Coetzee’s novel in particular, the postmodern form inscribes the unwriteable and unreadable nature not only of London, but also of South Africa.

South African London

Writing the metropolis after 1948

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