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The Hell of Desire: Narrative, Identity and Utopia in A Question of Power Author(s): Clare Counihan Source: Research in African

Literatures, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring 2011), pp. 68-86 Published by: Indiana University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/RESEAFRILITE.2011.42.1.68 . Accessed: 27/10/2011 08:03
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The Hell of Desire: Narrative, Identity and Utopia in A Question of Power


Nazareth College, rochester, New York Ccounih9@naz.edu
Clare CoUNIHaN

aBSTraCT
Counter to the critical tradition of reading Bessie Heads novels as autobiographical, this essay argues that A Question of Powers notoriously challenging narrative structure cannily exposes the fault lines of colonial and decolonizing politics of race and gender. The novel argues that elizabeths status as an embodied woman of color is precisely what prevents her from attaining subjectivity in racial and national communities, and the novel suggests that the postcolonial subjects attempts to claim these narratives are destructive in and of themselves. rather, elizabeths madness is a result of their prescriptive force, not her exclusion from stable racial and national identities. The essay concludes by examining the community work gardenthe novels utopic alternativeand, against the grain, arguing that this utopia on a troubling erasure of difference and desire.

[another man] found [Sello] in bed with his wife. [Sello] had to kill [the other mans] wife. She was like a raging beast. Shes quite harmless now. . . . Sello was never explicit about this killing business. He said he had killed several women. He said it in an aloof, detached way, as though it were simply part of the job he was on. (QP 28)

arly in Bessie Heads A Question of Power (1974), this rather chilling moment reveals some of the more sinister implications of an already unsettling narrative. Sello, one of the main figures in the protagonist Elizabeths recurring hallucinations, periodically tortures Elizabeth but, finally, acts as her lever out of hell (12). In this passagewhere Sellos status as torturer or savior is quite opaquethe text is unclear whether Sellos act of murder is actual or figurative, but his equanimity in the face of this act is not. It is also unclear what the identity of his victim is and what role her death plays in Sellos larger project of achieving REsEaRch in afRican litERatuREs, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring 2011). 2011

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his and elizabeths enlightenment and their subsequent place in the brotherhood of man. another step on Sellos path to transcendence, killing this woman, identified only by her unruly desire and illicit sexual activity, clears the way to the novels resolution celebrating Sellos wisdom and the perfection of ordinary humanness. Erupting in this passage, Sellos blas assurance that shes quite harmless now as a result of his equally matter of fact brutality encapsulates the novels surprising ability to integrate Sellos violence into its dual projects of reconstituting elizabeths sanity and imagining a landscape of utopian possibility. Centered on elizabeths consciousness, A Question of Power assembles a series of disorienting, interrupted moments of hallucination and reality that, approximately, trace elizabeths trajectory in and out of insanity and sanity after moving from South africa to Botswana with her son Shorty. at the same time that she interacts with various people in the village of Motabeng, elizabeth sustains a prolonged and erratic dialogue about the nature of good and evil and power with two mysterious men, Sello and Dan. as the novel jumps back and forth through time, it gradually and indirectly emerges that Sello and Dan are in fact inhabitants of her imagination, paralleled by two real men in the village. A Question of Power firmly and unequivocally rejects Dan, the figure of power-hungry nationalism and violent sexual exploitation, and by the end the Sello who blithely seeks his enlightenment in the murder of another mans wife is not the same as the white robed monk Sello with whom Elizabeth finds her way out of insanity and towards the warm embrace of the brotherhood of man (QP 206). Juxtaposed to the Dan who polices racial purity and demands feminine sexual compliance, these two Sellos (of the novels many) seek a mode of enlightenment that depends on the erasure of the female-gendered body. Moreover, their vision of human community is the one that elizabeth and A Question of Power present as a utopian alternative to the violence and trauma that drive elizabeth into madness. In this essay, I make two arguments, the first with and the second against the grain. First, I contend that A Question of Power manipulates and undermines realist narrative conventions in order to demonstrate the coercive demands of linear and coherent narratives of racial and national identity. In a more oblique yet farreaching critique of postcolonial subjectivities, the novel argues that elizabeths postcolonial madness results from the cultural and institutional demands of the normative narratives of racial and national identity available to the subjects of postcolonial nations, and particularly to black women.1 A Question of Power imbeds this alternative etiology in its graphic depiction of both the pitfalls of Dans nationalist alternative and the exorbitant costs of Sellos transcendence for elizabeth as a subject. The second part of my argument shifts to reading against the grain of the novel, interrogating its utopian resolution of the impossible quandaries of identity. as a utopian alternative to the political options offered by both Dan and Sello, A Question of Power presents the Motabeng Community Garden as the only space in which any narrative can withstand the unraveling violence of the racist and sexist ideologies of apartheid South Africa specifically and postcolonial ambivalence more generally. A Question of Powers garden is regulated, clinically reproduced, and asexual, evacuated of all difference and all desire, and it voids all markers of identity and desire from its utopia in favor of a homogenizing and transcendent sense of be[ing] ordinary (QP 39). Culminating with an explicit validation of the

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gardens disembodied subjectivity, the novel requires that elizabeth strip herself of her identity as either a raced and female-gendered subject as the condition of admission to this idealized future. Because Bessie Heads identity has, in various ways, become so entangled in critical readings of A Question of Power, I want to pause briefly before discussing the novel to address some of the themes driving Head scholarship. In her extended study of Heads literary and epistolary oeuvre, Living on a Horizon: Bessie Head and the Politics of Imagination (2007), Desiree lewis takes on the persistent critical evaluations of Heads work as either inadequately political or primarily autobiographical. lewis situates the criticism of apoliticalism in the context of South african anti-apartheid literature and its implicit demand for political (resistance) narrativesnarratives that explicitly name and denounce, in historically and materially specific terms, the injustices of the apartheid regime (17).2 In this vein of criticism, because Head does not denounce the South african state directly or primarily, she fails in her ethical and political responsibility to the struggle against apartheid. Adopting Njabulo Ndebeles challenge to such narrow definitions of the political, Lewis argues that because [Head] avoids the progressive political models of the sixties, seventies and eighties . . . she develops especially acute explorations of power and resistance (2). As Lewis notes, [I]ntricacies of Heads writing can be explored not by normatively assessing her vision, but by showing how she constantly explodes cultural certainties to allow contradictions to function in arresting and imaginative ways (4). Fortunately, lewis does not swing with the pendulum into the opposite reading of Heads work solely through the lens of autobiography.3 Rather, she configures her analysis of Heads oeuvre in two ways. In her analysis of Heads many, many letters, lewis argues that Head manipulates a number of carefully calibrated and rhetorically constructed subject positions that, in relationship to her interlocutors, reveal dynamics of power and privilege (4863); significantly, Lewis insists that Heads self-narration has often been anti-mimetic, interrupting any easy equivalency between Heads life and her self-representation (5; emphasis added). Extending this logic, Lewis further emphasizes that Heads emotional and psychic state at the time of writing A Question of Power does not explain the novels meanings, but allows us to consider the logic of her positioned concern with the unconscious (193). Undoing the determining power of the autobiographical, lewis clears a space to read Heads explo[sions] [of] cultural certainties (4).

I. THe PIvoT of exAmInATIon wAs eLIzABeTH: DIssoLvIng nArrATIves of IDenTITy 4


In this opening that lewis articulates between autobiography and mimesis for Head scholarship, I argue that A Question of Power engages strategically with the conventions of representation and narrative. a seemingly disorienting and chaotic tangle that strugglesor refusesto maintain a coherent thread, the novel stages the crisis of narration at three main sites. At the first site, the novel accumulates moments and gestures of interrupted or aborted storytelling at the level of both text and story.5 This self-reflexive performance of the impossibility of narrative not only calls into question the efficacy of realist representation in the postcolonial sphere, butmore importantlyit undermines national and racial subjects

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as the most legitimate identities in that space. Dan and Sello are respectively the second and third sites of disassembling narratives of identity. Unable to attain either Dans (hyper)masculine nationalist subjectivity or Sellos racialized yet disembodied subjectivity, elizabeth herself marks the disintegrating narratives and the moments of critique for these ideal identities. Both the location and cause of the novels discursive havoc, elizabeths presence emphasizes that her absence as an embodied and female-gendered subject is the prerequisite for narratives of national and racial identity to cohere: only when she is not-there as a woman or as a woman of color can the normative narratives of national and racial identity work in the postcolonial nation. Thus, although the terms of critique are by no means definitive and its final scenes are shot through with Elizabeths appeal to the universal, the novel nevertheless opens a space to consider alternatives to the subjectivities and identities defined by nation and race. The first challenge to conventional narrative and subjectivities arises from A Question of Powers refusal to signal discursively the boundaries between elizabeths fantasy and reality. Moving imperceptibly between waking and dreaming and waking dream, A Question of Power refuses to separate elizabeths experience of her everyday life from her extended hallucinations or reveries. This blurring is more significant than Elizabeth not being able to distinguish her inner and outer worlds, however.6 It weaves throughout the entire fabric of the novel, and unraveling the distinction forces a number of loaded decisions about what counts as a real event and what does not.7 Namely, elizabeths imagined experiences seem to have the same standing as her real interactions. opening in the middle of elizabeths internal dialogue, the novel establishes only the most tenuous codes to signal the transition between inner hallucination and outer reality. The first character named and the first to speak, Sello seems to claim priority of being and exists within the text without the red flag of figment. Elizabeth, in fact, is defined in relationship to him, instead of the other way around: most of what applied to Sello applied to her, because they were twin souls with closely linked destinies and the same capacity to submerge other preoccupations in a pursuit after things of the soul (QP 1112). Twinned, Sello and elizabeth inhabit the same phenomenological ground. as souls, their materiality may be open to debate, but there is nothing that suggests one or the others actual existence is suspect. Later, when he is unveiled as the white robed monk who hovers at the head of elizabeths bed, Sellos phantasmatic status seems clear enough, but by that point elizabeths (ostensibly) real world is so permeated with traces of the fantastic that the distinction is arbitrary (QP 45). after dreaming that Sello in the brown suit turns into an owl, she wakes the next morning to find a dead owl on her doorstep (QP 48). repeating these scenes of unsustainable phenomenological hierarchy, the text precipitates a crisis of representation that draws attention to itself and the readers necessary collusion in determining the nature of reality and its dependence on mimetic representational strategies. While the challenge of separating fabula from story compounds the difficulty of establishing a narrative sequence, the temporal structure of A Question of Power further undermines any sense of grounding by intermingling fantasy and reality. Without a definitive series of events to make up the fabula, the obviously nonlinear chronology of the story achieves an independentif disconcertingauthority. In other words, the texts anachroniesthe differences between the arrangement

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in the story and the chronology of fabula (Bal 83)assume a naturalized priority. expanding and contracting elastically during elizabeths waking nightmares, time simultaneously loops back upon itself so that the narrative ends parallel to its beginning; the same phrase repeats but with difference. Lacking the closed unity of cyclical time, the opening pages conflate present and past, projecting the coming events of the narrative as already in the past. Using an ambiguous form of the past tense, these scenes merge the past to come and the present that was. Although Elizabeth has already passed through the examination of inner hells at the beginning of the novel (QP 12), the rest of the narrative proceeds in an assumed present tense. as scenes and dialogue repeat, however, the novel achieves not closure but stuttering disorientation. early in the novel, elizabeth hears Sello, in his guise of spiritual savior, proclaim the meaning of love: Love isnt like that. Love is two people mutually feeding each other, not one living on the soul of the other like a ghoul (QP 13). This mantra appears again almost immediately: Love isnt like that. love is two people mutually feeding each other . . . (QP 14; ellipsis in original). With only an ellipsis to mark the possibility of difference between the first iteration and the second, it is unclear whether this doubling indicates Elizabeths relapse into madness or a hitch in time, repetition or foreshortening. When this mantra recurs for the last time at the end of the novel (QP 197), it is at once familiar and alien. Proclaimed by Elizabeth to be her lever out of hell, Sellos phrase seems to promise the end to her psychological ordeal while at the same time returning her and the fabula to an earlier, temporally dissonant moment in the story (QP 198). Complementing the novels frayed and knotted narrative thread, several thematized and repeated interruptions to storytelling within A Question of Power magnify the challenges posed by the collapse of fantasy and reality and the disorderly progress of time. These embedded fragmentary texts echo and thematize the novels narrative discontinuities. In one of the most jarring instances, Camilla, the Danish aid worker, commandeers elizabeths notes on new farming techniques for the vegetable garden: she whip[s] the notebook out of Elizabeths hand . . . and rapidly beg[ins] sketching something . . . irrespective of whether it was comprehensible to elizabeth or not (QP 75). overwriting the knowledge passing between elizabeth and a young farm student, Camilla destroys the text of progressive agriculture and self-sustained development. at the same time, she transforms the young men who had had no future and were suddenly being given one into humiliated little boys, snatching away the hope that their participation in the garden project affords them and interrupting their narrative of positive development (QP 76).8 The breakdown in narrative is not always so violent: the Christian Mrs. Jones tells Elizabeth her life story over and over again without ever finishing it. She start[s] it every other afternoon: Youd never believe I once belonged to the left . . . and f[alls] asleep at our heads bent [in protest against the bomb] . . . (QP 171). like a scratched record, Mrs. Jones never completes her story of political reformation, skipping into somnolence at the same moment of forsaken political activism in every abortive repetition. Similarly, the story of Dan as an African nationalist in a country where people were only concerned about tribal affairs never comes to fruition, and the details of the living man [are] scant (QP 104). The subject of gossip and vague rumor, Dan has no life story at alland neither does African

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nationalism in Botswana. although the real Dan is not identical with elizabeths hallucinated Dan, the failure of the real Dans narrative, which is also the failure of the nationalist narrative, nevertheless suggests the broader structure of crisis. In elizabeth, this crisis of narrative erupts full blown. Both in the narrative of her mothers legacy and in her attempts to tell the story of her own madness, elizabeth constantly struggles to contain and discipline the disintegrating elements as they slip away from, and away with, her. removed from the care of her foster mother, elizabeth belatedly learns the truth about her real mother. as the white mission principal informs her,
We have a full docket on you [Elizabeth]. You must be very careful. Your mother was insane. If youre not careful youll get insane just like your mother. Your mother was a white woman. They had to lock her up, as she was having a child by the stable boy, who was native. elizabeth started to cry, through sheer nervous shock. The details of life and oppression in South africa had barely taken form in her mind. The information was almost meaningless to her. (QP 16)

attributing the inevitability of elizabeths mental breakdown to the taint of her mixed raced parentage, the headmistress inserts elizabeth into an extralegal discourse of trial and punishment. Sentencing her to a lifetime of self-policing, the headmistress simultaneously condemns elizabeth to the inescapable narrative of her incipient insanity. For her part, elizabethalready engulfed in the formless narrative system of apartheidcannot even begin to understand the missionarys story. Confronted with this meaningless narrative, she succumbs to nervous shock, a symptom of the very madness against which the principal warns. A Question of Powers manipulation and seeming refusal of novelistic conventions demands, then, that the reader trace the tension between cohesion and disintegration.9 Towards this goal, the story of A Question of Power begins with the ending. As the first pages slowly accumulate temporal markers, it gradually and contextually becomes clear that the story places the end of the fabula first. Moving erratically backwards and forwards among the events of the fabula, the text proceeds as a series of retroversions without any single or stable time or event. early in the story, as she emerges from the madness she has not yet experienced, elizabeth attempts to narrate her experience, to corral it within the borders of logic and sense, by dividing her narrative into two separate threads: Sello and Dan. Searching for order in a moment that is both retroversive and anticipatory, Elizabeth tries to impose the structure of beginning-middle-end: [W]hen Elizabeth looked back she could see that the whole story had its beginnings with Sello (QP 13). Despite this apparent recognition, she is unable to maintain control over either fabula or story. For a while, Sello determines the story, but the course and direction of it d[o] not remain in his hands for long. It [i]s taken over by Dan, first as a subtle, unseen shadow in the background, later as a wild display of wreckage and destruction (QP 13). ricocheting in many directions, Dans control of the narrative only produces more chaos, and the text of Elizabeths experiencethe strange journey into hell (QP 12)explodes, collapsing without subject or focus. In the end, Elizabeth l[eaves] the story like that, unresolved[;] she only record[s] the one-sided view of her own observations and speculations (QP 201). Unable

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to unite the disparate elements into a single whole, elizabeth cannot translate her experience into a text that makes sense. elizabeths inability to narrate in fact defines the novel: despite its proximity to her interior thoughts, the novel is dominated by an omniscient third-person narrator.10 Elizabeth records . . . her own observations and speculations, but they are never actually part of the text or story. absent, they remain inaccessible to the reader, lost amid the novels narrative shrapnel which itself destroys any nascent coherence (QP 201). The novels strategic antinarrative does not simply throw the categories of colonial and postcolonial representation into crisis. More broadly, it undermines the subject defined by nation or race as the primary and privileged subject of the postcolonial narrative. When the specific stories of Elizabeth as a national or racial subject collapse along with narrative autonomy, these identities emerge as not just suspiciously fragile but ultimately destructive. as the earlier discussion of lewis suggests, scholarship on Head and A Question of Power frequently relies on Heads biography to structure themes of national and racial identity in her work in order to sustain claims that she is politically engaged. While some critics deploy concepts of national belonging,11 they also bypass the seriousif fragmentary and inchoateattack the novel directs at african nationalism. Jump[ing] on the bandwagon of past suffering, the politicians of African nationalism
sweep the crowd away by weeping and wailing about the past. Then . . . they steal and cheat people once they get into government. They dont view the african masses as having any dignity or grandeur. Theyre just illiterates who dont know anything, so they think they can get up there and cheat and squander the money. (QP 133)

Part and parcel with this utterly irredeemable group, the unhallucinated Dan is one of the few cattle millionaires in the country. He order[s] a fantastic array of suits from somewhere (QP 104). Profiteering from his position of privilege, Dan fulfills the stereotypes of the corrupt African bourgeoisie dazzled by foreign luxuries familiar from Fanons The wretched of the earth.12 While this Dan marks the troubling but incomplete narrative of nationalism, the Dan of elizabeths hallucinations is like Hitler and Napoleonicons of the murderous capacity of nationalism (QP 104).13 The embodiment of absolute evil (QP 200), Dan reveals powers potential to radically deform the soul into monstrosity. Superimposing the real, african nationalist Dan with the hallucinated, demented torturer Dan,14 A Question of Power effectively forecloses any form of national identity as a viable option. after all, who wants to be Satan? although there is very little that seems pleasant in his interactions with elizabeth after their initial encounter, Dans narrative is ostensibly one of seduction. He approaches her with a constant solicitation for her to join him in his version of power relations. There is, however, one condition: for elizabeth to join Dan in his nationalist paradise, she must join the ranks of his seventy-one nice-time girls (QP 128). as a nice-time girl, elizabeth would become another object in Dans collection of sexual talentsthe only way the women are identified (QP 12729, 14648, 16468). Accumulated as interchangeable pelvises and vaginas (QP 1634), the seventy-one nice time girls appear[] to at some stage or another to have fallen

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prostrate at Dans feet, never to rise again (QP 163). anticipating what elizabeth would be if she joins him, Dan produces a masterpiece that reshapes Elizabeth into a nice-time girl (QP 192):
The model stood up and turned to face elizabeth. They were identical replicas except that what stood before elizabeth was a demon of sensuousness. she had thick, swollen, sensual lips. she rolled her eyes with mock innocence. Her legs were so weak she could hardly stand on them. she oozed horror and slime. Dan did not waste his energies on imagery. He had spent a year giving elizabeth unsought inside information on sex. The result of this lengthy training was the model in front of her. (QP 193; emphasis added)

Stripped of subjectivity, the ideal elizabeth of Dans imagination exists only as a compilation of sexual parts, assembled for the sole purpose of satisfying Dans physical needs. This elizabeth retains no trace of the subjectivity that would enable her to participate in the nationalist project as an equal member. reduced to flesh so that she might live within the borders of Dans nation, she is stripped of gender as a category with meaning and social value.15 Finally rejecting Dans narrative of the relationships of power, elizabeth turns to Sello, Dans moral and structural opposite. Sellos narrative moves through a series of frustrated attempts at spiritual transcendence and shifting racial identity. Framing religious affiliation and racial identity as continuous and essential, he is Egyptian, then Indian, and, with Elizabeth, finally African. He produce[s] a brief reconstruction of the Story of osiris and Isis. He had been the osiris who had been shattered into a thousand fragments by the thunderbolt of Medusa (QP 39). As the Buddha, hed achieved his Nirvana, and [his wife had] toppled him out of it (QP 201). As a goda Caligula in little boots with thin stick legsSello strut[s] around as the emperor of heaven until a woman he [is] after at the time . . . precipitate[s] the first crisis (QP 42). rewriting the orthodox version of each of these stories, Sellos narrative repeatedly fails around the figure of a woman, first Medusa and then the Buddhas wife. As Sello explains to Elizabeth, It wasnt power that was my doom. It was women (QP 199; emphasis added). Against Dans strategy of accumulating mindless flesh, Sello rejects these women who repeatedly trap him in his corporeal form, preventing him from achieving the dematerialized soul perfection that he seeks.16 For both Dan and Sello, women as embodied subjects are inimical to their own construction of subjectivity. To join Sello in breaking this pattern of entrapping incarnation, elizabeth must complete her own transformation into Sellos authentic soul mate. Manifesting bodily the nature of evil, the texts figure of the wild eyed Medusa is the threat to elizabeths future and the antithesis of what elizabeth should seek (QP 38): Medusa is really the direct and tangible form of [mans] own evils, his power lusts, his greeds, his self-importance, and these dominate him totally and bring him to the death of the soul (QP 40; emphasis added). Dragging Sello into the depths of depravity, the Medusa lures him from his pursuit of purity and ordinary goodness. The form of her temptation is specifically feminized and sexualized. From her first appearanceshe had an exciting way of walking. Her thighs rubbed against each other like the rustle of silk against silk (QP 37)to her every interaction with elizabeth, the Medusa seduces and torments Sello and elizabeth with

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that thing which no other woman had. and even this was a mockery. It was abnormally constructed, like seven thousand vaginas in one, turned on and operating at white heat. and an atmosphere of brutal desire pervaded everything, stagnated everything, and the wrenching, miserable battle of fierce tugof-war stretched on and on with no end in sight. (QP 64)

exorbitantly, excessively, exponentially sexed, Medusa inhabits the realm of mythic and monstrous femininity.17 The source of her influence, her seven thousand vaginas in one sustain the brutal desire that prevents Sello and everyone else from moving towards enlightenment. The unleashed, perverse realization of Dans nice-time girls, Medusa assaults Elizabeth with her vagina: the most exquisite sensation travel[s] out of her towards elizabeth. It envelop[s] elizabeth from head to toe like a slow, deep, sensuous bomb. It [is] like falling into deep, warm waters, lazily raising one arm and resting in a heaven of bliss (QP 44). The pleasure that Elizabeth is least prepared to withstand and which pull[s] the ground from under [her] feet, this orgasm both positions Medusa as the epitome of seductive femininity and confirms the texts inability to conceive of embodied female sexuality as anything other than horrifying and destructive (QP 44). Signaled in part by her rejection of Dans narrative of elizabeth as a nice-time girl and her horror of the Medusa, elizabeths dissociation from her physical self is also sanctioned by the novels turn to eastern philosophies of material transcendence.18 She must cultivate the same capacity to submerge other preoccupations in a pursuit after things of the soul . . . overcom[ing] ones passions as the source of all evil (QP 1112). In this case, the body that must be transcended is explicitly the body of woman. In the realm of the soul, elizabeth is allowed subjectivity, but it is a subjectivity that depends on the forfeiture of her body, and subsequently female gender. Crucially, it is the transcendence of elizabeths gendered body that will release both elizabeth and Sello. assessing his previous failures, Sello pinpoints woman and her body as the reason: his own body, his own rooted materiality is secondary to the obstacle of embodied femaleness. Simultaneously, the novels various narrative failures undermine race, the other identity that might be coded on elizabeths body. For example, elizabeths traumatic encounter with the apartheid state and Dans racially-defined corrupt nationalism suggest that race too is unavailable to elizabeth despite Sellos triumphal narrative of a transcendent racial identity. although Sello can maintain a connection to his identity as a racial subject, it seem[s] almost incidental that he [is] african (QP 11). Instead, he prefers an identification with mankind to an identification with a particular environment, moving freely in and out of his african-ness (QP 11). Sellos affiliation with the difference of race is selective and voluntary; his racial identity is a choice that he makes from his position of abstract and universal humanity. at the center of these crises, elizabeth both suggests the fragility of the narratives of national and racial belonging and figures precisely the absence demanded in the constitution of those potential identities. as the story of elizabeths insanity spins wildly around the vortices of her identity as a subject of nation and race, the novel manifests all the ways in which she cannot participate in those communities because she inhabits the embodied figure of womanspecifically the woman of color. The pivot of examination [is] Elizabeth (QP 12), but she is also the point of

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its collapse. In Dan and Sellos narratives of (black mens) relationships to power, elizabeth embodies all the ways in which the woman of color so threatens and disrupts those narratives that her eviction, in one way or another, is the only way to sustain them. It is in this formulation that A Question of Power presents a damning critique of prescriptive narratives of identityand those identities are all prescriptive.

II. A new DAwn AnD A new worLD: THe PromIses AnD PITfALLs of UToPIA 19
In finally choosing Sello as her lever out of hell, Elizabeth realizes A Question of Powers trajectory towards the moment of the present future, the moment when the conditions coded in elizabeths choice are realized and the utopia of universal human ordinariness comes into focus. about this gesturing towards the future, Sophia Obiajulu Ogwude argues, in Protest and Commitment in Bessie Heads Utopia (1998), that A Question of Power overcomes the general trend of African creative writing with its strong sense of a nostalgic past, sadly unmatched by prophetic and futuristic writing (70). With its vision of an ideal and alternative future, the novels utopian thoughts and relationships [provide] a basis for arguing that the author is after all a committed artist of relevance (Ogwude 71; emphasis added).20 ogwudes useful articulation of the novels utopian impulse prompts the question, however, of what kind of utopia A Question of Power imagines? In this essays second argument against the grain, I contend that what A Question of Power champions as egalitarian and universal humanism overlays a more troubling vision than scholarship thus far has acknowledged: in the garden, the perfection of being ordinary requires transcending any kind of differenceprimarily the difference of being a womanas well as disavowing any desire that might disrupt the vast and universal love . . . that equalized all things and all men (QP 202). realized in Sellos abstract humanism, this imagined future reality constitutes the core of A Question of Powers theoretical intervention in, and critique of, postcolonial narratives of national and racial identity. Through Dan, Sello and elizabeth, the novel delineates the points of failure in the prescriptive narratives of national and racial identity, and through elizabeth it articulates the consequences of too rigid an adherence to them. leaving these failed narratives behind, A Question of Power implies an alternative under the rubric of what if, in the future. approaching this ideal directly, the novel describes
a super-state of life. It was the point at which all personal love had died in them. It was the point at which there were no private hungers to be kissed, loved, adored. And yet there was a feeling of being kissed by everything; by the air, by the soft flow of life, peoples smiles and friendships; and, propelled forward by the acquisition of this vast and universal love, they had moved among men again and again and told them they loved them. . . . It had included all mankind, and so many things could be said about it, but the most important was that it equalized all things and all men. (QP 202; emphasis added)

Surrounded by a dispersed and abstracted aura of love, the individual lets go of all his personal desires and fears, embracing a reciprocal love for the vast masses

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of undifferentiated humanity. As all mankind comes to rest under the sign of equality, human desire recalibrates so that all things and all men are indistinguishable from each other, each inspiring the same amount and kind of universal love. This is a world unmarred by the divisive and destructive markers of race or nation or gender, unruffled by the competing and conflicting claims of identity or difference.21 The potential for this new world tentatively emerges in the precarious and fragile space of the Motabeng work project garden. a sanctuary for elizabeth, the garden constitutes the novels version of an ideal future in which individuals most important characteristic is their ability to work and to participate in a super-state of life . . . the point at which all personal love had died in them. Part of a broader development scheme supported by Danish and U.S. Peace Corps staffing and funding, the work garden depends on community volunteer labor to implement experimental drought-resistant farming techniques. The garden is one of the only spaces in the novel that the Dan and Sello of elizabeths hallucinations cannot intrude. overcoming any early intimations of unease,22 the garden is the site of communal cooperation and sharing. Magical cabbage, tomatoes, cauliflower and peppers appear[] as if out of nowhere and gr[ow] with shimmering green leaves in the intense heat of the desert (QP 124), and order reigns in the big street down the middle with lots of side streets between the [vegetable] beds (QP 113). In the garden, elizabeth can maintain her relationship with the imperturbable Motswana woman Kenosi, established on the solid respect of one work partner for another, despite Dans meddling and the overwhelming chaos of the rest of her life (QP 160). In the garden, no other identities matter beyond the individuals ability to do the work of growing fruits and vegetables and to share in the joy of production. Hallowed ground, the garden is the first place Elizabeth goes when she turn[s] and reel[s] towards life (QP 203). Significantly, the garden is also the one place where the novels chaotic structure and the characters fragmented narratives (precariously) remain intelligible and coherent.23 The reality of the garden is never in question, and working in the garden helps elizabeth fend off bouts of madness and helps her recover when she does succumb (QP 11013, 142). At end of the novel, Elizabeth inspects the garden after her final recovery and confronts Kenosis fantastic combination of English and Setswana in the gardens record book (which documents all the techniques and products of the garden) (QP 203). Despite the challenges posed by this potentially disastrous linguistic amalgamation, however, the ledger preserves its narrative capacity. The nearest A Question of Power comes to tangibly embodying its vision, the vegetable garden suggests what utopia might be and what conditions might enable the restitution of narrative sanity. As the novel closes, Elizabeth place[s] one soft hand over her land. It [is] a gesture of belonging (QP 206). In this decisive move, she lays claim to and endorses the promise of the garden without reservation. Simultaneously, she consolidates and affirms the novels return to conventions of narrative closure: here, the novel manufactures the moment of reflection and peace that would signal elizabeths successful passage to whole subjectivity. The novels resolutions are not entirely as ideal or all-encompassing as they seem, however. Although the [vegetable] record book look[s] so beautiful that elizabeth ke[eps] quietly turning it over in her head and it is indeed legible, the potential for narrative dissolution

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remains even in this preliminary utopian space, even after elizabeth is enfolded in a regime of narrative order (QP 20304). More significantly, Elizabeth herself never succeeds in her own attempts at self-narration. In the peace of twilight and her own quiet mind, elizabeth still cannot overcome the obstacles of her surroundings:
[S]he began to jot down fragmentary notes such as a shipwrecked sailor might make in a warm sandy beach. . . . At first nothing of her own would come to her. a D.H. lawrence poemsong of a man who Has Come Through [sic]kept on welling up in her mind. . . . Then Shorty crept into the house. . . . [later] he handed her his poem. She had to read through it several times in disbelief. It seemed impossible that he had really traveled the journey alongside her. He seemed to summarize all her observations. (QP 20405)

As her own fragmentary and tide-erased story succumbs to D.H. Lawrences masterful account, Elizabeth is interrupted again by her son, who finally substitutes his own poem for hers.24 I concede that this moment seems to indicate both how connected Elizabeth is to Shorty and how close the new dawn and a new world are (205), but even at this peaceful moment elizabeth fails to insert herself as the subject of her own narrative. She fails to create her own narrative ordering and resolution. Only through the surrogate figure of Shortywho throughout the novel exercises a mobility and stability of identity completely denied to her25 can Elizabeth engage with the prospect of a completed narrative; only through his mediation can her story come to its (seemingly) integrated conclusion. The overt harmony of this sceneits overdetermination as the moment of resolutionobscures this substitution and the novels failure to admit its main character completely into its happy ending. Nor is the promise of the vegetal utopia as straightforward or unconditional as it seems. Beyond the textual anxieties that threaten to undermine the novels vision for the future, the novel provokes the extra-textual question of what kind of subject and what kind of future the novel imagines and proposes. Contrary to Anissa Talahites claim that the garden allows for an idealized and flourishing multi-racial cooperative community, I argue that A Question of Powers utopia is a space without nation or race or female gender, effectively prohibiting any identity more specific than human. As the ideal subject of this future utopia, Sello models a subjectivity abstracted from his bodybecause the novel clearly defaults to an untroubled universal masculine. This transcendence relieves him of the burdens of inhabiting any particular racial, national identity.26 Contained seedlike in Sellos narrative of his quest for enlightenment, the novels ethos of universal ordinariness blossoms in the gardens system of clinical propagation, which depends implicitly on the erasure of difference and on quashing unpredictable and dangerous desire. In the gardens prefiguration of utopia, reproduction is literally contained and regulated. Disciplined by the science and technology of (Western, modern) agriculture, seedlings are cultivated in plastic bags and thinned to produce one gigantic specimen (QP 124). These perfect seedlings are then transplanted to well-ordered trench-beds, creating an instant vegetable garden . . . [that] appear[s] as if from nowhere (QP 124). Circumventing the natural and idiosyncratic processes of flowering and pollination, the garden reproduces

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sterilely, in implicit contrast to images of lush and riotous vegetal fecundityand not just because its in a desert. Emerging into this tranquil(ized) and homogeneous field of the universal human, subjects lose all the other, less essential traits that inform their subjectivity. Following Sellos lead, elizabeth sheds her racial identity and gender, as well as any vestige of sexuality. and as the absence of difference clears the way for omnipresent and egalitarian love, difference and desire become remainders of the painful dystopia that elizabeth seeks to transcend. as she learns from the terrifying process of gaining admission to this utopia, she must completely give up herself as a raced, female-gendered and desiring subject. although she is detached from her physical and erotic body from the beginning of the fabulashe might have had [a vagina] but it wasnt such a pleasant area of the body to concentrate on, possibly only now and then if necessary (QP 44)elizabeth must give up all attachment to her body, simultaneously abrogating her body as a vector for (sexual) desire. Women and their bodies are just not contained by this version of the human stripped of difference; as Sellos past lives document, racial and engendering identities are in fact inimical to the constitution of that human subject. The price of narrative coherence, then, appears to be the absence of the embodied, desiring female subject. But what then does the novels utopian vision suggest for the relationship between difference and desire? A Question of Power indicates a necessary link between the expression of difference and the fluctuations of desire, and it articulates that connection as destructive. The novel refuses to contemplate the nature of this relationship any further, however. Whether difference produces desire or whether there is only a continuous play between them, the novels disembodied, universally abstract omniscient narrator insists emphatically that difference and desire together threaten the physical and psychic integrity of the subjects trapped in desires hell. outside and beyond the constraints of a determinant identity, the narrator replicates and models the ideal subject of A Question of Power and (not coincidentally) rejects the specificities of Heads own identity and autobiographical imprint. Concluding with its characters sheltered in a future garden safe from desire, the novel, structurally and thematically, implies that the site of postcolonial and decolonizing peril is not only the pitfalls of differentiated identity but also the undisciplined and disintegrating trajectories of desire. The crisis of the postcolonial, then, is not who inhabits those spacesas defined by markers of race and genderbut also what they desire and how they desire it. escaping a hell created by the delimiting and impossible narratives of racial and gendered identity, elizabeth enters into a hell unrecognized by herself or her companions, one defined by the absence of difference and the death of desire. aCkNoWleDGeMeNTS

arlene keizer, Simon Gikandi, and Sarita See generously read and commented on early drafts of this manuscript. ayesha Hardison, Stephanie li, Greta Niu, and Jennifer rossi read later iterations and provided valuable conversation and feedback.

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1. a number of postcolonial scholars work from the assumption that Head/ elizabeths psychological trouble results from her inability to access stable racial and national identities. In Homelands, Hollywood and Harlem (1994), rob Nixon argues that, in Heads passage through foster care, educational systems and gauntlet of her racial classification as Colored, she experiences first-hand the inventedness of many of the most authoritative social categoriesnation, family, race, and history (103). The experience of exclusion from these categories drives Heads novelistic representations. Huma Ibrahims Bessie Head: subversive Identities in exile (1996) also focuses on the depredations occasioned by an unstable or denied national identity through her model of exilic consciousness (2351). See also MacKenzies Bessie Head (1999). 2. Joanna Chases Bessie Heads A Question or Power: romance or rhetoric? (1982), Charles larsons 1974 review of A Question of Power, and lewis Nkosis Tasks and mask (1981) are the works most associated with this position. a number of essays continue to make unique arguments for A Question of Power as a political novel, providing one gauge of the prominence this issue occupies in critical imaginations. For example, see James M. Garretts Writing Community: Bessie Head and the Politics of Narrative (1999); Sophia Obiajulu Ogwudes Protest and Commitment in Bessie Heads Utopia (1998); Natasha C. Vaubel, The Battlefield of Politics and Selfhood in Bessie Heads A Question of Power (1997). 3. Collapsing the distinction between narrative and life, critics variously describe A Question of Power as a highly autobiographical novel (Nixon 112); at the borderline of fiction and chronicle (Rose 402); a fictionalized autobiography (Kapstein 71); a semiautobiographical major novel (MacKenzie x); professedly autobiographical (MacKenzie 57); and a story-autobiography (Ibrahim 3); and more assertively state that Elizabeth . . . clearly represents Head herself (Vaubel 83). Almost without exception, the invocation of Heads life experience justifies an ascription to the novel of political. Lewis picks up the challenge to reading Heads work as autobiographical from a number of critics. Linda Susan Beards Bessie Heads Syncretic Fictions: The reconceptualization of Power and the recovery of the ordinary (1991) is the earliest and most influential of these critical interventions, identifying a preoccupation with one of three foci: the autobiographical madness [. . .]; Heads feminist ideology; or her seemingly political commentary (577). Arlene A. Elders Bessie Head: The Inappropriate Appropriation of Autobiography and Isabel Balsieros Between Amnesia and Memory: Bessie Head and Her Critics both more recently examine the critical propensity to perform a curious conflagration of fiction and biography (Balsiero 18). Elder situates her argument that the selves Head recounts are not herself but creations as a limit case in her attempt to argue for some precision in our terminology, to problematize the ways we recognize african womens autobiography (15, 2). Balsiero frames her challenge to the autobiographification of Heads work with the politics of a (national) literary tradition that attempts to claim Head despite her willfully form[ing] a sense of self and of place outside the limits of the nation (21). 4. QP 12. 5. Here, Mieke Bals distinction between text, story and fabula helps to navigate the novels complicated structure: as a text (a finite whole composed of language signs), the novel disrupts the boundaries between story (the mode and sequence of telling) and fabula (the chronological events told) (5). In The Lever Out of Hell: Autobiographical Footholds to read Bessie Heads A Question of Power, Vicki Briault Manus outlines a narratological reading of A Question of Power, using autobiography as an anchor. 6. Lewis argues compellingly that the novels narrative structure rarely offers the reader the security of the narrators distance from the unconscious (190). This refusal of refuge from the psychic trauma that the novel depicts, blurring the boundaries

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between inside and outside, between private and public, and between psychic reality and historical process . . . offers an exploration of the unconscious associated with Jacques Lacan (191). In A Divine Madness: The Secret Language of Trauma in the Novels of Bessie Head and Calixthe Beyala, Caroline Brown argues, via feminist psychoanalysis and trauma theory, that A Question of Powers destabilization of narrative predictability, which forces the disruption of the readers static perspective allows mental illness [to] serve[] as an especially resonant metaphor for the disruption caused by the gendered and/or racialized state violence (96, 97). 7. Bal defines an event as the transition from one state to another state, caused or experienced by the actors (182). 8. See also Kim, The Real White Man Is Waiting (53). 9. Eleni Coundouriotiss essay Authority and Invention in the Fiction of Bessie Head (1996) provides a quite compelling account of the fragmentation and challenges of the novels form. Still assuming the necessity of the narratives autobiographical nature, the essay connects elizabeths sexualized visions and the novels narrative disorder through Edward Saids notion of textual authority and molestation and through Foucaults concept of the author function as a place holder for subjectivity (1718). These two theories together enable Coundouriotis to read the novel as a self-reflexive performance of the struggle for and challenges to (the molestation of) narrative and self-authority embodied in the speaker/ narrator. Coundouriotiss analysis, however, still assumes that the novel is finally working towardseven if it troublesthe constitution of the integral subject defined by race, gender and nation. See also Caroline Brown, A Divine Madness (fn 9). 10. Coreen Brown and Caroline Brown are two of the few critics to emphasize the third-person narrator (Creative vision 89; Divine Madness 99); quite a few others assume or project Elizabeth as the first person narrator (Gagiano 158; Kapstein 78; komar 173). Margaret e. Tucker reads the novel as chronicling elizabeths journey out of madness to claim exactly that position as first-person narrator (170171). Jacqueline Rose tries to negotiate the difference between first and third person narrator with the concession that the narrative is formally from outside her consciousness (it is written in the third person), effectively from inside her mind (it is almost consistently what she sees) (402). although several other characters assumehowever tentativelythe role of character-bound narrators in embedded texts, elizabeth herself never manages either to insert her own text or to become a narrator. 11. See Nixon and Ibrahim, in particular. 12. In The Real White Man Is Waiting, Kim argues that Dan resonates with many of the economic, existential and political phenomena associated with postmodernism as part of her division of the novel into three temporal/thematic sections (53). Although this reading, citing Matsikidze, recognizes the disillusion, skepticism, and cynicism . . . in the postcolonial era (53), it positions this postnationalist disillusion in the novels imagined future and does not acknowledge the very explicit and direct challenge to nationalism as it now (in the moment of the novel) stands. 13. In Being and Totality: Ontology and Universality in Bessie Heads A Question of Power (2005), LaRose Parris also identifies the connection the novel makes between afrikaners abuse of political power and Nazism (17). 14. In Colonization and the Feminine in Bessie Heads A Question of Power (1991), Paul H. Lorenz describes Dan as the neocolonialist power maniac (601). 15. Here I allude to Hortense Spillers distinction between flesh and body in Mama Baby, Papas Maybe: an american Grammar Book (1987). 16. Kim argues that the novel undermines [Sellos] authority even as it depicts it. . . . The manifest contents of the words adhere to the ideological program of control through obedience, while the latent content of the under-cutting, double-voiced

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language betrays the realityin the non-presence or unreality of Sellos holinessof the situation (4344). Kim here distinguishes between Elizabeths critical awareness and the novels irony, suggesting that the novel thereby deflates Sellos messianic status. However, this irony would not only undercut Sello, but also the resolution the novel reaches when Sello offers Elizabeth a lever out of hell. Even if the novel does temporarily challenge Sellos beatific humanism (and I am not convinced that it does), it eventually sustains his position as the archetype of human ordinariness and transcendence to which elizabeth should aspire. 17. Heads figure of the Medusa evokes Freuds incomplete essay, Medusas Head. Freud begins to articulate his reading of the mythical figure of the Medusa: the terror of the Medusa is thus a terror of castration that is linked to the sight of . . . the female genitals, probably those of an adult, surrounded by hair, and essentially those of his mother (105). Briefly, although A Question of Power offers a provoking re-vision of Freuds original, its insistence on the Medusa as inextricably corrupt and sensual/sexual does not bode well for any form of female subjectivity beyond what elizabeth validates at the end of the novel. Recently, Head scholars have begun to take up the figure of the Medusa more substantially, if quite distinctly; see Caroline Brown (94, 10001) and Sue J. Kim (4849). See Carole Anne Taylor (Chapter 3) for a reading geared towards the Medusas role as a figure of terror-with-wit in Heads tragic understanding of the Medusas horror in Heads reconfiguration of tragedy as a genre (103, 104). 18. In Colonization and the Feminine (1991), Lorenz traces the presence of Buddhist and Hindu or Tantric philosophies in the novel. He claims that Heads vision of Buddhism rejects the excessive asceticism that would be the reactionary opposite of the tortures imposed on elizabeth by Sello as well as the excessive moral purity that would be the opposite of Dans obsession with sensual pleasures (600). lorenz argues that Head finally adopts a corporate god whose form is more Hindu or Tantric than Buddhist (60102). As the subsequent argument demonstrates, I do not think the novel rejects the extremes that Lorenz claimshe does not account for Sellos tough love explanation to elizabeth at the end of the novelor that there is such a clear delineation of Buddhist and Hindu principles. 19. QP 205. 20. locating her discussion in all three of Heads novels but focusing on A Question of Power, Ogwude examines the critical history of utopia, tracing it to its origin with Thomas. She claims that Head uses the term in the two related sensesfirst as a good and idealized place endowed with providing the greatest amount of freedom and happiness . . . and then as an ideal place that is nowhere (71). Here, I want to emphasize that I accept ogwudes characterization of the novel as presenting a utopic alternative, but I am concerned to examine how we might understand the utopia that Head posits as problematic. Although Head does not explicitly deploy the term utopia in A Question of Power, she does in when rain Clouds gather (25, 159). In Poetics of Madness: representation of Psychic Disturbance in Bessie Heads A Question of Power, Tiro Sebina identifies the garden as a secular utopian philosophy of internationalism (159). 21. This passage is one of the clearest expressions of the principles underlying Heads celebration of human ordinariness, a philosophy that she articulates in both her fiction and letters. Linda Beard draws attention to Heads celebration of the possibility of human community (58081), and examining Heads formulation of how spirituality shapes [Heads] distinctive notions of humanism and explorations of subjectivity and consciousness (11; 815). 22. Early in the fabula, Elizabeth invites Kenosi to join the garden group, but there was something wrong with the project. People peered at it, joined a work-group for a week, then ran away. It demanded solid voluntary work, with no financial rewards . . . (QP 88). kenosi initially refuses, but she later joins elizabeth voluntarily.

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23. In her essay Cape Gooseberries and Giant Cauliflowers: Transplantation, Hybridity and Growth in Bessie Heads A Question of Power, Talahite also reads the garden as a utopian space, as a refuge from the intensity and the trauma of racism and colonialism which elisabeth [sic] . . . experienced before her exile into Botswana (143). Talahite argues that Elizabeths successful horticultural experiments and the international and multi-racial team of volunteers function as potent metaphors for finding a hybrid space for cross-cultural connections . . . [and] growth and development (146). 24. elder reads this passage as one of the moments in A Question of Power when Head the author resists conflation with Elizabeth the character by refusing to complete the narrative gestureincluding Elizabeths poem, allowing Elizabeth an I narrative that would authorize the autobiographical reading (12). 25. Shorty can participate in the community life of the village, the novel claims, because he is a child: apparently people here [in Botswana] made sharp distinctions between adults and children, and hostilities were restricted to adults (QP 94). I would argue, however, that his ease in negotiating community dynamics is as much, if not more, a result of his mobility as a boyhe can move into and out of public spaces in a way that a girl (and elizabeth) cannotand his ability to erase his racial difference. Learning to speak Setswana quickly, he is never marked as unAfrican in the way that Elizabeth is and quickly adapts himself to a language-defined model of Batswana national identity. 26. In The Tragedy and Comedy of resistance (2000), Carole anne Taylor offers a more skeptical reading of Elizabeths final relationship to Sello (9092). She argues that elizabeth tries but ultimately fails to negotiate a position as Sellos brother rather than his wife, and the deal with Sello about parentage and prophecy (surely no less than a negotiation for a past and a future) relies on an intersubjectivity achieved at a terrible cost (91). Taylor understands this cost as an internal suspension of all belief systems and the intensity of desire for a provisional normalcy (91). Here, she frames as spiritual what I am arguing is elizabeths relationship to difference and identity.

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Coundouriotis, Eleni. Authority and Invention in the Fiction of Bessie Head. rAL 27.2 (1996): 1732. Print. eilerson, Gillian Stead. Bessie Head: Thunder behind Her ears, Her Life and writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1996. Print. Elder, Arlene A. Bessie Head: The Inappropriate Appropriation of Autobiography. emerging Perspectives on Bessie Head. ed. Huma Ibrahim. Trenton, NJ: africa World Press, 2004. 116. Print. Fanon, Frantz. The wretched of the earth. Trans. Constance Farrington. New York: Grove, 1963. Print. Freud, Sigmund. Medusas Head. 1922. The Collected Papers of sigmund freud. Vol. V. Ed. James Strachey. London: Hogarth, 1950. 10506. Print. Gagiano, annie. Achebe, Head, marechera: on Power and Change in Africa. Boulder, Co: lynne reinner, 2000. Print. Gardner, Susan. Dont Ask for the True Story: A Memoir of Bessie Head. Hecate 12.1/2 (1986): 11029. Print. Garrett, James M. Writing Community: Bessie Head and the Politics of Narrative. rAL 30.2 (1999): 12235. Print. Harrow, kenneth W. Less Than one and Double: A feminist reading of African womens writing. london: Heinemann, 2002. Print. Head, Bessie. A Question of Power. london: Heinemann, 1974. Print. . maru. london: Heinemann, 1971. Print. . serowe: village of the rain wind. london: Heinemann, 1981. Print. . when rain Clouds gather. london: Heinemann: 1969. Print. Ibrahim, Huma. Bessie Head: subversive Identities in exile. Charlottesville, Va: University Press of Virginia, 1996. Ingersoll, Karl G. Reconstructing Masculinity in the Postcolonial World of Bessie Head. ArIeL: A review of International english Literature 29.3 (1998): 95116. Print. Jolly, Rosemary. Intersecting Marginalities: The Problem of Homophobia in South african Womens Writing. Cross-addressing: resistance Literature and Cultural Borders. Ed. John C. Hawley. Albany, NY: State U of New York P, 1996. 10720. Print. Kapstein, Helen. A Peculiar Shuttling Movement: Madness, Passing, and Trespassing in Bessie Heads A Question of Power. Critical essays on Bessie Head. ed. Maxine Sample. Westport, CN: Praeger, 2003. 7198. Print. Kim, Sue J. The Real White Man is Waiting for Me: Ideology and Morality in Bessie Heads A Question of Power. College Literature 35.2 (2008): 3869. Print. Komar, Kathleen L. Whatever Happened to the Lyrical Novel? Madness and the Lyrical in Bessie Heads A Question of Power. Lyrical symbols and narrative Transformations: essays in Honor of ralph freedman. ed. kathleen l. komar and ross Shideler. Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1998. 17285. Print. larson, Charles. rev. of A Question of Power, by Bessie Head. english around the world 10 (May 1974): 521. Print. lederer, Mary S., and Seatholo M. Tumedi, eds. writing Bessie Head in Botswana: An Anthology of remembrance and Criticism. Gaborone: Pentagon, 2007. Print. lewis, Desiree. Living on a Horizon: Bessie Head and the Politics of Imagination. Trenton, NJ: africa World P, 2007. Print. Lorenz, Paul H. Colonization and the Feminine in Bessie Heads A Question of Power. mfs 37.3 (1991): 591605. Print. Mackenzie, Craig. Bessie Head. New York: Twayne, 1999. Print.

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