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Truth and Reconciliation

Confessional literature is a particularly appropriate mode of literary discourse for a society struggling to carve out a new national identity based not on race, but on a shared sense of geographic space and egalitarian and democratic values. Emerging from the Christian tradition of acknowledgment and testimony, and influenced by the complexities of South African religious history, the confessional mode in South African literature appears in texts from both the apartheid and post-apartheid periods. Gallagher first examines the way in which confession originated as a religious practice and then...

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Confessional literature is a particularly appropriate mode of literary discourse for a society struggling to carve out a new national identity based not on race, but on a shared sense of geographic space and egalitarian and democratic values. Emerging from the Christian tradition of acknowledgment and testimony, and influenced by the complexities of South African religious history, the confessional mode in South African literature appears in texts from both the apartheid and post-apartheid periods. Gallagher first examines the way in which confession originated as a religious practice and then evolved into a distinctive literary mode in recent South African fiction as exemplified in the specific instances of confessional practice and discourse in the works of ten prominent South African writers. Taking issue with philosopher Michel Foucault, who argues that confession is but another form of oppressive discourse, she shows how confessional literature opens up opportunities for reconciliation and community building.

This is a book that is part literary criticism, part social commentary on contemporary conditions in South Africa, and part philosophical treatise. As such it will be of interest to literary scholars eager for a new approach to South African fiction, to readers interested in the social transformations occurring in post-apartheid South Africa, and to individuals concerned with the moral and ethical aspects involved in processes of confession and reconciliation.

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