Short story cycles are usually structured along centripetal forces which guarantee whole-text coherence to the cycle and reduce the autonomous drift of the single stories. Zoë Wicomb’s first literary work, the short story collection You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town (1987), is no exception. The ten short narratives revolve around the coming of age of the protagonist-narrator Frieda Shenton, a South African coloured girl born when apartheid began (1948). Given the strong continuity provided by the developing figure of the protagonist-narrator, You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town has often been interpreted as a novel-like fictional account or Bildungsroman. In my paper, however, I intend to discuss the appropriateness of the form of the short story cycle to portray a young girl on the threshold of adulthood, thereby denying the book’s interpretation as Bildungsroman. Indeed, Wicomb’s choice to write a collection of short stories – and not a novel – responds to the urgent need of introducing substantial gaps in the narration, thus refusing a single coherent narrative. Hence, as the plot unfolds, readers are continually forced to alter their understanding of the cycle. This formal aspect well suits the description of the main protagonist’s adolescence, fraught with unresolved doubts and questions – Frieda has to come to terms with the challenges posed by her age and by her skin colour. Ultimately, my aim in proposing this paper is to show how the elusive form of the chosen literary genre well embraces the never-defined and ever-changing in-betweenness of adolescence. Not surprisingly, Wicomb adopts a hybrid genre – neither a novel, nor a single story – to represent the hybridity of its protagonist, a coloured adolescent during apartheid.

Complexity, Hybridity, and Elusiveness in Zoë Wicomb’s You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town / M. Fossati. ((Intervento presentato al convegno Formes Brèves et Adolescence / Short Forms and Adolescence tenutosi a Angers nel 2019.

Complexity, Hybridity, and Elusiveness in Zoë Wicomb’s You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town

M. Fossati
2019

Abstract

Short story cycles are usually structured along centripetal forces which guarantee whole-text coherence to the cycle and reduce the autonomous drift of the single stories. Zoë Wicomb’s first literary work, the short story collection You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town (1987), is no exception. The ten short narratives revolve around the coming of age of the protagonist-narrator Frieda Shenton, a South African coloured girl born when apartheid began (1948). Given the strong continuity provided by the developing figure of the protagonist-narrator, You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town has often been interpreted as a novel-like fictional account or Bildungsroman. In my paper, however, I intend to discuss the appropriateness of the form of the short story cycle to portray a young girl on the threshold of adulthood, thereby denying the book’s interpretation as Bildungsroman. Indeed, Wicomb’s choice to write a collection of short stories – and not a novel – responds to the urgent need of introducing substantial gaps in the narration, thus refusing a single coherent narrative. Hence, as the plot unfolds, readers are continually forced to alter their understanding of the cycle. This formal aspect well suits the description of the main protagonist’s adolescence, fraught with unresolved doubts and questions – Frieda has to come to terms with the challenges posed by her age and by her skin colour. Ultimately, my aim in proposing this paper is to show how the elusive form of the chosen literary genre well embraces the never-defined and ever-changing in-betweenness of adolescence. Not surprisingly, Wicomb adopts a hybrid genre – neither a novel, nor a single story – to represent the hybridity of its protagonist, a coloured adolescent during apartheid.
Settore L-LIN/10 - Letteratura Inglese
The European Network for Short Fiction Research
Complexity, Hybridity, and Elusiveness in Zoë Wicomb’s You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town / M. Fossati. ((Intervento presentato al convegno Formes Brèves et Adolescence / Short Forms and Adolescence tenutosi a Angers nel 2019.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/828255
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