A Dance in the Sun, by Dan Jacobson
Marxists used to speak of a law of unequal development in political economy which permitted backward countries to leap suddenly ahead, as Russia did, under the influence of ideas and techniques borrowed from more advanced countries. Dan Jacobson’s sensitively written short novel about South Africa suggests that the same kind of thing can happen in fiction. A Dance in the Sun is one of the concentrated fables of individual moral responsibility which have been in vogue among younger writers in the United States since 1939. In America this vogue had certainly something to do with our historic and economic circumstances, with the reaction against Marxism and the social consciousness of the 30’s, and with the political conservatism and centrism fostered in the last decade by a spreading economic prosperity. A Dance in the Sun, on the contrary, comes from and describes an explosive colonial situation of increasing inequality which might seem more appropriately described in such class-conflict, mass-movement fiction as The Octopus, The Grapes of Wrath, or Germinal, or at least in the broadly conceived social novel of the central English tradition.
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