'Remembering Daphne Rooke' : a literary history for the 'new' South Africa.
This thesis is concerned with recovering the literary history of Daphne Rooke, who
experienced short-lived international fame as a South African novelist during the
1950s and 1960s. The value of this undertaking is predicated upon the fact that the
author is currently enjoying something of a 'literary revival' within South Africa.
with scholars persuasively arguing for Rooke's relevance within a post-apartheid
literary culture. This obviously begs the question of why she was 'forgotten' in the
first place; a question which is addressed within this, the first full-length literary
history of the author.
My thesis adopts an original methodological approach, as the lack of existing
research into Rooke's original standing necessitates the use of analytical tools which
open up alternative avenues of historical investigation. Accordingly, this thesis treats
the cultural 'organs' attached to Rooke's novels in their capacity as published books -
the imprints; dust-covers; sales figures; reviews; paperback reprints; ect. - as 'texts'
which say something concrete about the contemporary value granted these works and
their author. In the case of Rooke, a publishing-centred literary historiography is
invaluable because it also exposes the degree to which the author's literary standing
as a South African writer has been largely, and often negatively, influenced by forces
emanating from the world of metropolitan and South African publishing.
Furthermore, this thesis argues that a theoretical perspective which grants primacy to
publishing practices is not only pertinent to a literary history of Rooke but to postapartheid
literary studies in general. This is because the inherent weakness of South
African publishing and, conversely, the strength of the metropolitan book industry,
continues to determine what South Africans can make of their own literature.