Separate and warring selves : identity crises in Africa in Shiva Naipaul's "North of South: an African journey"

Coetsee, Jarryd (2009-12)

Thesis (MA (English Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This project seeks to analyze the representation of identities in Shiva Naipaul's travel narrative North of South: An African Journey (1978) as encoded in the binaries of primitive / traditional; civilized / modern; settler / native; civic / tribal and neo-colonial / liberated. By analyzing this select series of identities, this project aims to explore the fractured nature of identity as constructed in the post-colony. It will argue that the identities are rendered unstable by the ungrounded nature of the post-colonial space in which they are located. Naipaul concludes his travel narrative by qualifying the postcolonial situation as an abortion of Western civilization in the trope of Conrad's Kurtz. Naipaul implies that any identity in Africa is a simulacrum, a phantom double, a copy of something that was not there to begin with. He attempts to articulate the diverse cultures that he encounters as though he were apart from them without recognizing that he is essentially and inextricably a part of the various cultural articulations themselves. It is easy to criticize Naipaul, therefore, as a non-starter. With the advantages of hindsight, however, it is possible for the contemporary reader to recognize these instabilities as evidence of the post-modern phenomenon in which reality is not an absolute. As a modernist writer, Naipaul's efforts to understand these instabilities of identity as an articulation of culture are circumvented by a Sisyphean struggle wherein he attempts to establish a sense of ontological alterity in the narrative yet implicates himself, as well as his invocation of archival literature and hence his ultimate position of disillusionment, hopelessness and doom.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie projek poog om die verteenwoordiging van identiteite in Shiva Naipaul se reisverhaal, North of South: An African Journey (1978), gekodeerd met die binere van die primitiewe / tradisionele ; beskaafde / moderne; setlaars / inheemse; staats / etniese; en neo-kolonialisme / vryheid, te analiseer. Deur die analise van die gekose reeks identiteite, neig die studie om die gebroke aard van identiteit in In post-koloniale omgewing te ondersoek, en te redeneer dat die identiteite bemoeilik word deur die ongegronde natuur van die postkoloniale ruimte waarin hulle voorkom. Naipaul omvat North of South om die post-kolonialistiese situasie te kwalifiseer as In aborsie van die Westerse beskawing in die metafoor van Conrad se Kurtz. Naipaul impliseer dat enige identiteit in Afrika In simulacrum is, In spookbeeld, 'n kopie van iets wat nooit was nie. Hy poog om die menigte kulture wat hy ondervind te omskryf asof hy van hulle verwyder is, sonder om te besef dat hy volledig deel uitmaak van die geleding van hierdie kulture, en dit is daarvolgens maklik om Naipaul as 'n mislukking te kritiseer. Met die duidelikheid van In moderne leser se terugblik is dit wei moontlik om hierdie onkonsekwenthede as bewyse te sien van die post-modernistiese verskynsel waarin realiteit nie In absoluut is nie. As In modernistiese skrywer is Naipaul se bemoeienis om hierdie onbestendigheid van identiteit as 'n omskrywing van kultuur te verstaan belemmer deur 'n Sisyphiesestryd waarin hy poog om In sin van die andersheid van die aard van die werklikheid in die storielyn te vestig, maar tog impliseer hy homself asook sy gebruik van argiefmateriaal, en vandaar sy uiteindelike posisie van ontnugtering, hopeloosheid en verwoesting.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/2016
This item appears in the following collections: