A cross-cultural analysis of the work of Coetzee, Harris and Morrison, demonstrating that the fundamental task of postcolonial narrative is the work of mourning.
Sam Durrant's powerfully original book compares the ways in which the novels of J. M. Coetzee, Wilson Harris, and Toni Morrison memorialize the traumatic histories of racial oppression that continue to haunt our postcolonial era. The works examined bear witness to the colonization of the New World, U. S. slavery, and South African apartheid, histories founded on a violent denial of the humanity of the other that had traumatic consequences for both perpetrators and victims. Working at the borders of psychoanalysis and deconstruction, and drawing inspiration from recent work on the Holocaust, Durrant rethinks Freud's opposition between mourning and melancholia at the level of the collective and rearticulates the postcolonial project as an inconsolable labor of remembrance.
Sam Durrant is Lecturer of English at the University of Leeds.