Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

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Caritas and Habitus in Dan Jacobson’s ‘The Zulu and the Zeide’

M Hooper


Dan Jacobson is a prolific writer whose oeuvre spans some 65 years, and includes a range of different texts. He has lived in Britain for most of his adult life, but his roots are South African, and he set much of his early work in this country. It has however fallen into relative critical obscurity. His 1959 story ‘The Zulu and the Zeide’has been widely anthologised, but deserves more serious and more specific critical attention that it has recently received, because it evinces at an elemental level the ways in which, and the extent to which, human caring was able to challenge, arrest and undermine the public proscriptions set up to define and control interaction between people in our country during the apartheid years. This essay explores the embodiment of caritas in the story, the spatialisation that reflects the boundaries (and the crossing of boundaries) of the apartheid world he depicts, the micropolitics of power between the characters in the story and within the complex of relationships that develop between them, and the ethics of our reading of the story.

Keywords: Caritas, embodiment, spatialisation, apartheid, micropolitics of power, ethics of reading

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