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A Century Later: New Fictional Representations of the Boer War

David Medalie
Journal of Southern African Studies
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 377-392
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4133841
Page Count: 16
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A Century Later: New Fictional Representations of the Boer War
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Abstract

The centenary of the Boer War has prompted the publication of a number of new fictional representations of the event. These include Giles Foden's Ladysmith and Elleke Boehmer's Bloodlines. Despite their shared focus on the war, the two novels are strikingly different; for that very reason, it is illuminating to bring them into juxtaposition and to consider them in comparative terms. Nevertheless, what they both demonstrate is a desire to represent the war in revisionist terms and, in particular, to render the experiences of those whom traditional accounts have tended to disregard: black people, and, especially where Boehmer's novel is concerned, women. They show quite clearly that the Boer War is not just a conflict that occurred 100 years ago: it belongs also to the present and endows the current era with a range of enticing fictional and imaginative possibilities. It also becomes apparent that the centenary of the Boer War has returned those who seek to represent it not only to the conflict itself, but also to the war which writers were engaged in 100 years ago - the battle between contending modes of writing.

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