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“Doing very well in South Africa”: Fiona Melrose, Karel Schoeman, and the Intertextual Afterlives of Woolf ’s

Andrew van der Vlies


This essay examines two South African responses to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925): Fiona Melrose’s  Johannesburg (2017), and Karel  Schoeman’s Die noorderlig (published in Afrikaans in 1975). Melrose’s novel  patterns  character and plot directly on Woolf’s with allusions to her biography  and to other reworkings of the text. Schoeman’s  performs a less obvious  homage to Mrs Dalloway in its exploration of the tensions between politics  and poetics and  formal engagement with the demands of experimentation  and realism. The essay assesses these different modes of  response, points  to Woolf’s influence beyond the anglophone literary world, and positions Schoeman’s work (in  particular) as deserving greater attention from those  speaking –and writing about–English (and its inheritances) in  South Africa. 

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eISSN: 2071-7474
print ISSN: 0376-8902