Dark Humor: Satire, the Baroque, and the Carnivalesque in Patricia Schonstein’s Banquet at Brabazan and Ingrid Winterbach’s The Elusive Moth
Both Patricia Schonstein’s Banquet at Brabazan and Ingrid Winterbach’s The Elusive Moth contain an element of baroque fantasy, and in Schonstein’s case the makings of a contemporary satire. They also exhibit the tension between the comic and the tragic, the city and the platteland, between flights of imagination and the magnetic pull of a dark social realism that both underpins and, in Schonstein’s case, sometimes undermines the work.
This paper investigates the use of humor in writing against the grain of apartheid, and how successful these writers are at integrating history in a dynamic fiction. Published respectively in 1991 (Winterbach) and 2010 (Schonstein), these novels bracket the two decades that straddle the immediate pre- and post-apartheid era, and also question what constitutes the South African novel, as Schonstein grew up in the then Rhodesia, and Winterbach’s work was originally written in Afrikaans.