International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Political Consciousness as Opposed to Propaganda: a Stylistic Analysis of Power Dynamics in Nadine Gordimer’s Selected Novels
Hellen Roselyne L. Shigali PhD

This paper attempts to distinguish between political consciousness and propaganda with reference to African literature .This is one of the issues in the writing and criticism of modern African literature, that is essentially post-colonial and therefore intertwined with politics of colonialism and its aftermath. Although all literature has a political context, post-colonial literature is ubiquitously so. South African literature is even much more so as a result of the extreme racism of apartheid system 1948–1994. But the question is; where do we draw the boundary, however diffuse, between politics-cum-political activism per se, propaganda, and political consciousness in literary art? On the African continent South Africa under the defunct apartheid system is the ideal space in which to investigate the distinction between the concepts. Nadine Gordimer (1923- 2014) a white South African who was both a fiction, non-fiction writer, and political activist provides idea exemplification for the study. She has personally engaged the debate and insisted on the need to maintain boundaries between politics and literary art. In this paper two of her novels in which the political theme is fore grounded are analyzed to validate her claims. What distinguishes literary art from other forms of writing is its literariness or its aesthetic nature. Therefore stylistic analysis provides the analytical tool for interrogating Gordimer’s argument which is relevant to all African literature. Sometimes writers are misread as propagandists by non-literary critics who base their conclusions on mere content analysis, thereby mistaking the literary text for a social document. Critical examination of the two texts based on stylistics analysis reveals a clear boundary between political consciousness in literature and overt propaganda.

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