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The Secularization of South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission in Mike Nicol’s The Ibis Tapestry.

Titlestad, Michael
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Research in African Literatures. 37(4): 48-67.

In this article we read Mike Nicol’s The Ibis Tapestry (1998) as an intertextual
novel that brings a postmodern inflection to its interrogation of the principles
and practices of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Using the distant mirror of the life, work, and death of Christopher Marlowe,
the novel unravels aspects of the ethical ideology and epistemological framing
of the Commission in a way that, we argue, amounts to its secularization.
This does not mean that Nicol presents a conservative subversion of
attempts to accomplish postapartheid nation building. Rather, his novel is
one of those literary works that deepens, extends, complicates, and intensifies
the work of the TRC by casting doubt on its ecclesiastical framing and
its foundational teleology. Further, this article is an attempt to redress the
degree to which The Ibis Tapestry has been ignored in the study of South African
literature. We argue that its unsettling dynamic needs to be considered
if we are to do justice to the literary imprint of the Commission. (Author’s abstract)


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