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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Struggle history and self-help: the parallel lives of Nelson Mandela in conventional and figurative biography
Author:Davis, Steve
Periodical:African Studies (ISSN 1469-2872)
Geographic term:North America
About person:Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013)ISNI
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020184.2014.922272
Abstract:Nelson Mandela has a parallel life in North American self-help literature that cannot be corrected or amended. Early public perceptions of Mandela's life were shaped by several conventional biographies that bore all the usual characteristics of this genre of non-fiction life writing; a claim to represent historical truth, a promise of fidelity to available evidence, proper contextualization of the life of the subject. But a parallel set of perceptions emerged later in a peculiar genre of figurative biography that was modelled after North American self-help literature. This large and rapidly growing Mandela-themed self-help literature references his life story in a more selective and strategic way by extracting anecdotes and quotations and reproducing them as techniques for self-improvement and self-actualisation. Together these strands of writing have produced the unusual phenomenon visible in popular perceptions of Mandela today; the struggle hero who is simultaneously the spiritual warrior of self-help. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]