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Black Hamlet

Black Hamlet [PDF]

A Jewish physician and pioneering psychiatrist, Wulf Sachs first met the man he calls "John Chavafambira" in a Johannesburg slum. The year was 1933, and Sachs wanted to learn whether psychoanalysis was applicable across different cultures. John, as he is called throughout, was a Manyika healer-diviner eager to learn the methods of European medicine. For the next two-and-a-half years Sachs psychoanalyzed John by means of free association. The result is Black Hamlet—a narrative, even novelistic, reconstruction of one black South African's life set against the background of two worlds in collision. First published in 1937 to widespread acclaim, this classic work now returns to print in a new paperback edition."Some sixty years after its first publication, the text still reads with a remarkable urgency. It has much to offer a modern readership with interests in the construction of social identity, the relationship between knowledge and power, and the interconnections between psychoanalytic, literary, and historical thought. The concerns of its audience today, in a postapartheid and postcolonial world, are very different from those at the time in which it was written. And yet, these concerns are not entirely different. The central question of the book—What dialogue is possible across boundaries of race, nation, and culture?—remains as pressing as ever."—Saul Dubow and Jacqueline Rose, from the Preface
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