Stephen Gray


The purpose of this paper is to trace some of the extent and the implications of what is popularly known as the 'Jim Comes to Joburg' theme in South African English fiction. This description, which became a catchphrase in the literary history after the release of a film of the same title in the late 1940s, has loosely been used to categorise works which are essentially concerned with the rural black man's encounter with the white controlled industrialised city. Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country of 1948 — which is still today the most-read single work by any South African writer — is certainly the best-known example to deal with this type of material; part of my purpose is to describe the literary context in which it arose, and how, fair from being a 'first', it significantly altered a debate in the fiction which had been strenuously under way for half a century.



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