Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Long Walk to Freedom and the Mutating Face of the Epic

Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Long Walk to Freedom and the Mutating Face of the Epic

Article excerpt

Summary

The encounter with Nelson Mandela's voluminous Long Walk to Freedom (1994) in a vibrant post-apartheid society that is effervescent with the "Rainbow" identity and the "Renaissance" spirit, easily beckons the critical examination of such a work to establish its exact value and relevance, if any, to this post-independence state, Renaissance South Africa. To ascertain the significance of Long Walk in present-day South Africa, this article therefore first seeks to establish the generic family of Long Walk before exploring its actual impact in the era of its epiphany. Using the hypothesis that Long Walk is not only an autobiography but is also an epic, this article employs a comparative approach to highlight the epic qualities of the text, first for literariness and then for comparison with similar "classical" literary writings in other societies such as England, Italy and Mali with the view to foreground the text's primordial social function. The aim is to canvass for the recognition of this autography as a typical African epic whose functional remedies can be applied to the very society from which it comes. The critical argument advanced in this article is that modern society can garner valuable models of human behaviour from the mirrors of societies found in literary texts of grandeur such as Long Walk, as literature continues to exhibit many tools that can be used to challenge the plethora of current socio-ethical ills. The pivotal point is the value of humanness and the role of responsible governance which great leaders of human history have always exhibited or encouraged to emulate in these literary expressions of note.

Opsomming

Nelson Mandela se lywige Long Walk to Freedom (1994) in 'n lewenskragtige postapartheidsamelewing wat bruis van die "reenboog"-identiteit en die "Renaissance"-gees lok 'n mens om hierdie werk krities te ondersoek om sy presiese waarde en relevansie--as daar is--vir Suid-Afrika in die tydperk na onafhanklikheid te bepaal. Om die betekenis van Long Walk in die huidige Suid-Afrika te bepaal, probeer die outeur dus eers vasstel in watter generiese familie Long Walk tuishoort voordat die werklike impak daarvan in die era van sy Driekoningedag verken word. Die hipotese is dat Long Walk nie net 'n outobiografie is nie maar ook 'n epiese gedig, dat daar in die artikel dus 'n vergelykende benadering gevolg word om die epiese kwaliteite van die teks uit te lig, aanvanklik met die oog op iitererheid en vervolgens met die oog op vergelyking met soortgelyke "klassieke" literere geskifte in ander samelewings soos Engeland, Italie en Mali, ter verskaffing van voorgrond vir die teks se fundamentele sosiale funksie. Die doel is om voorspraak te maak vir die erkenning van hierdie outobiografie as 'n tipiese epiese gedig van Afrika, waarvan die funksionele remedies toegepas kan word op die samelewing waaruit dit na vore gekom het. Die kritieke argument wat in hierdie artikel aangevoer word, is dat die moderne samelewing waardevolle modelle vir menslike gedrag kan bekom uit die spieelbeeldsamelewings wat in literere tekste soos Long Walk aangetref word, aangesien die literatuur steeds vele modelle bied wat gebruik kan word om die veelvoud van sosio-etiese euwels wat vandag voorkom, aan te pak. Die kern is die waarde van menslikheid en die rol van verantwoordelike regering wat groot leiers in die geskiedenis van die mens nog altyd geopenbaar het en wat hierdie belangrike literere uitdrukkings ons aanmoedig om nate boots.

Introduction

In one of his famous statements, John Milton (1965) asserts that true heroism cannot be found in untested prelapsarian innocence, but that it lies in the acts of demonstrable bravery, disdain, trials, falls and resurrection from the ashes. Captured in his prose tract, Areocopagitica, and advocating freedom of speech and liberation, Milton's conviction is that heroic virtue manifests itself in facing and overcoming danger. This type of ethos proliferated in the classical works of the past, especially the epic. …

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