Sunday, August 4, 2019

Essay --

The Boer War has been the focus of a considerable body of fiction numbering over two hundred novels and at least fifty short stories in English, Afrikaans, French, German Dutch, Swedish and even Urdu if we count the translation of Rider Haggard's Jess in 1923. For the social and literary historian it provides over a hundred year record of the relationship between literature and history. The vast majority of novels and short stories about the Anglo-Boer conflict were published around the time of the war and reflect the values and attitudes to British imperialism. Some of the titles published then give a fairly accurate impression of the patriotic fervour which found its way into print: B. Ronan, The Passing of the Boer (1899); E. Ames, The Tremendous Twins, or How the Boers were Beaten (1900); C.D. Haskim, For the Queen in South Africa (1900); F. Russell, The Boer's Blunder (1900); H. Nisbet, For Right and England (1900) and The Empire Makers (1900). Among the more notable literary figures of the day who were closely associated with the events of the Anglo‑Boer conflict were Rudyard Kipling (1865‑1936); Winston Churchill (1874‑1965); H. Rider Haggard (1856‑1925); Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859‑1930); Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (1862‑1931); Edgar Wallace (1875‑1932); and John Buchan (1875‑1940)). Some of the most interesting names associated with satirising the Anglo‑Boer conflict include H.H. Munro (Saki) (Alice in Pall Mall, 1900); G.K. Chesterton (The Napoleon of Nottinghill, 1904), Hilaire Belloc (Mr Clutterbuck's Election, 1908) and Kipling: "Fables for the Staff", published in The Friend in 1900 in which he lampooned the incompetence of the British general staff. Douglas Blackburn's A Burgher Quixote (1903) is one of the most unde... ...any Boers from the Cape, and later the two republics, who joined the National Scouts and fought for the British, but there were many Cape Boers who joined the commandos. This aspect of the war produced some of its finest responses in fiction, for example Herman Charles Bosman's short stories "The Traitor's Wife" and "The Affair at Ysterspruit", and Louis C. Leipoldt's novel Stormwrack (1980). The question of divided loyalties is a large issue in Boer War fiction. Nor did the conflict end with the war. As late as 1980 a successful Australian film Breaker Morant was based on Kenneth Ross's play and Kit Denton's novel The Breaker (1973). The Boer War has continued to be a popular subject for escapist fiction. Whereas the writers at the height of the Empire were overwhelmingly British, with the decline of imperialism the field is now dominated by South African writers

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