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The Oral-Style South African Short Story in English: A.W.Drayson to H.C.Bosman - Cross/Cultures 37 (Paperback)Stephen Gray
Paperback Published: 01/01/1999
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This study deals with a particular kind of short story in South African English literature - a kind of story variously called the fireside tale, tall tale, skaz narrative or (the term used here) the 'oral-style' story. Most famously exemplified in the Oom Schalk Lourens narratives of Herman Charles Bosman, the oral-style story has its roots in the hunting tale and camp-fire yarn of the nineteenth century and has dozens of exponents in South African literature, most of them long forgotten. Here this neglect has been addressed. A.W. Drayson's Tales at the Outspan (1862) provides a point of departure, and is followed by discussions of works by William Charles Scully, Percy FitzPatrick, Ernest Glanville, Perceval Gibbon, Francis Carey Slater, Pauline Smith, and Aegidius Jean Blignaut, all of whom used the oral-style story genre. In the work of Herman Charles Bosman, however, the South African oral-style story comes into its own. In his Oom Schalk Lourens figure is invested all of the complexity and 'double-voicedness' that was latent - and largely dormant - in the earlier works. Bosman demonstrates his sophistication particularly in his metafictional use of the oral-style story. The study concludes with a discussion of the use of oral forms in the work of more recent black writers - among them Bessie Head, Mtutuzeli Matshoba, and Njabulo Ndebele.