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Title: ‘The Rediscovery of the Extraordinary’: A Question of Power by Bessie Head
Authors: Borzaga, Michela
Keywords: Bessie Head
ghostly realm
disorder of imagination
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Department of Dutch and South African Studies, Faculty of English
Citation: Werkwinkel vol. 5(2), 2010, pp. 27-42.
Abstract: Through a re-reading of Bessie Head’s A Question of Power, this article aims at criticising the way trauma has been conceptualised in the West and recently appropriated by postcolonial literary studies. It argues that to be traumatised means not so much to be haunted by a traumatic event as to inhabit a whole world with its own forces and rules. Elizabeth, the main character in the novel, is not mad as has been argued by many critics: she is deeply traumatised. The apartheid system has attacked her identity in an existential way, disrupting her relation to the polis and to herself. She is doubly colonised: from the apartheid institutions outside and by the perpetrators she has internalised inside. Trauma is thus conceived as a sort of implosion, as a painful, dialectical struggle between different temporalities, multiple contradictory worlds that translate into extraordinary, spectacular phenomena both at the level of the psyche as well as of the body.
ISSN: 1896-3307
Appears in Collections:Werkwinkel, 2010, vol. 5(2)

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