The range and variety of English studies in contemporary South Africa can best be conveyed by juxtaposing two very different versions of Shakespeare encountered by the author in 1989. The first Shakespeare was firmly entrenched at Athlone Teacher Training College in Paarl, where students were protesting against apartheid education policy, the state of emergency, and elections for the discredited tricameral parliament. At the same time, the author came across a second Shakespeare on the shelves of the University of Cape Town library in an article written by South African critic Rob Nixon for the U.S. literary journal Critical Inquiry. What these two Shakespeares point to is a third figure, namely ‘Shakespeare’. This book explores the central, symptomatic role played by William Shakespeare in South African English studies, and surveys all South African literary criticism, and particularly Shakespeare criticism, produced from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present.
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