Afterword: Writing lives, fictions, and the postcolonial

Liz Stanley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This essay reflects on the writing of lives and fictions in a South African contextin light of the contents of this special issue, and draws parallels with some of the approaches adopted by the contributors. It discusses biography, autobiography,diaries, letters, and testimonies by or about Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela,Eugene Marais, Njube son of Lobengula, Cecil Rhodes, and Olive Schreiner,and problematizes some of the key terms in thinking about postcolonial literatures. In doing so, it explores interconnections between the factual and the fictive in different forms of life writing, the expanded boundaries of biographizing, performances, and transformations of the self, the use of fictions to tell truths, issues with representation and referentiality, the appeal of a return to “the facts” in some circumstances, the position of readers, and how the relationship between “then” and “now” informs writing practices. The conclusion draws on Olive Schreiner’s literary credo to propose that an alliance
between writers and readers should be part of reconfiguring the biographical
impulse in postcolonial literatures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-479
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Commonwealth Literature
Issue number3
Early online date3 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • autobiography
  • biofiction
  • biography
  • fictions
  • life writing
  • postcolonial literatures
  • South Africa
  • writing lives


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