Real and Imagined Readers looks at an important period in South
African literary history, marked by apartheid censorship and the
extensive banning of intellectual and creative voices. Returning to
the archive, this book offers a reader-centric view of the
successive censorship laws, and the consequences of publication
control on the world of books. Books and print culture created
intersectional spaces of solidarity where ideas and knowledge were
contested, mediated and translated into the socio-political domain.
By focusing on these marginalised readers, Matteau Matsha sheds
light on the reading cultures and practices that developed in the
shadow of apartheid censorship, creating alternative literary
spaces. Real readers engaged in an elusive dialogue with the
censors' imagined readers, and definitions of literature and
readerships emerged from this unusual connection, leading to the
formation of literary conventions that inform reading politics to
this day. By understanding reading as a complex and dynamic
activity, this book stresses the importance of appreciating books
in relation to the social context in which they are written and,
most importantly, read.
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