Authors

Michael Rice

Abstract

Many writers, some of whom have much more established literaryreputations than Blackburn, have been attracted by the possibilities suggested by the situation in South Africa at the end of the last century for satire.' However, without exception none of their works has endured or holds very much more than historical interest for readers today. All satire that is rooted in the particular and topical runs the risk of becoming obscure in time and overtaken by events that supplant the very issues it seeks to attack and ridicule; and herein lies much of the essential difference between Blackburn's work and that, say, of Munro, Chesterton and Belloc. Their satires are focused on particular topicalities; their interest goes little beyond attacking specific personalities and incidents of the day. Blackburn's satire, on the other hand, tries to encompass a much broader vision of human folly and hypocrisy as he attempts to come to grips with the nature of capitalist imperialism in conflict with and corrupting a rural and theocentric republic; he also focuses in a general sense on the chivalric tradition transplanted into the wilds of Africa. Thus, part of the intention of this paper is to show why Blackburn's novel deserves consideration on its own merits and is, moreover, worthy of being acknowledged as one of the important works in the development of South African literature.

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