Fashionably Ethnic: Individuality and Heritage in Greig Coetzee’s Happy Natives
AbstractThis essay highlights a shift in South African literature towards ideals of individualism and explores some of the paradoxes inherent in the competing claims of individuality and heritage. The characters created by Greig Coetzee in Happy Natives are examined as examples of identities constructed in terms of tradition, function and indoctrination. The comic potential of these incongruent identity constructions is then elaborated by means of Henri Bergson’s description of the humour arising from an inability to adapt to changing fashions. Ultimately, appeals towards tradition and individuality begin to look like similar proposals.
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