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The readership for banned literature and its underground networks in apartheid South Africa

R Matteau


Based primarily on a series of oral interviews with readers, this article examines the circulation of banned literature in apartheid South Africa, exploring how banned books were exchanged, stored, read and discussed in a multitude of unusual ways. This article argues that such modes of circulation can be understood as an alternative literary culture or underground communication system, generating a parallel network with its own references and conventions. After considering the various ways and means through which people acquired, circulated and read banned material, the article concludes by asking what light this data may throw on broader book history debates.

Innovation Vol. 35 2007 pp. 81-90