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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Condemned to choose, but what? Existentialism in selected works by Fugard, Brink, and Gordimer
Author:Peck, R.ISNI
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:South Africa
About persons:André Philippus Brink (1935-2015)ISNI
Athol Fugard (1932-)ISNI
Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3820056
Abstract:Many years after the fad that made every unhappy intellectual an 'existentialist', existentialism maintains an extraordinary grip over white South Africans. This article examines existentialist influences on three of them. A generation of Afrikaans writers, 'the Sestigers', was influenced by the existentialists and particularly by Camus. The existentialism that pervades the fictional work of one of them, André Brink, is most obvious in 'The Wall of the Plague' (1984). Although Athol Fugard is not a member of that generation, he too was so deeply influenced by Camus that each of his plays presents a nearly formulaic expression of existentialist ideas. Even Nadine Gordimer, whose works are not usually characterized as existentialist, has used these ideas centrally in 'Burger's Daughter' (1979). The existentialist assertion that each must choose his own essence can validate the choice of dissident white writers to transcend definitions provided for them by the apartheid regime, by the Black Consciousness Movement, by their own ethnic communities, or by other dissidents. Moreover, the crisis orientation of existentialism clearly suits the South African situation. South Africa has been in a state of almost perpetual crisis. Anxiety among whites is extremely high. Virtually all of Brink's and Gordimer's recent novels are set within this crisis, and Fugard's more recent works are also pervaded by it. Bibliogr., notes, ref.