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Download A Question of Power (African Writers Series) epub

by Bessie Head

Download A Question of Power (African Writers Series) epub
ISBN: 0435901494
ISBN13: 978-0435901493
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Contemporary
Author: Bessie Head
Language: English
Publisher: Heinemann International Literature & Textbooks (July 29, 1974)
Pages: 206 pages
ePUB size: 1878 kb
FB2 size: 1363 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 613
Other Formats: mobi lrf rtf mbr

A brilliant narrative on what it is like to experience a mental illness. Read for a graduate level comparative literature class, I at first hated it, then came to love it. As one classmate said, "I didn't know what it felt like to be mentally ill. Until I read this; now I do." Head is underrated as a writer, particularly when you learn she wrote this on paper, longhand, in one draft. Absolutely brilliant. Layers and layers of texture, depth, sensuality, and nuance--I highly recommend it for those looking for something to really sink their teeth into and chew.
Bessie Head was born in South Africa but later become known as one of Botswana's most renowned authors after moving there in early adulthood. A Question of Power is in many ways a semi-autobiographical account of Head's life in Botswana. It follows the breakdown of a woman who moves to Botswana, fleeing conditions in her home town and struggling to be accepted into traditional village communities (much like Head herself). Over the course of the novel we learn about power relationships that exist between sexes, race/ethnic groups, and natives vs. outsiders within a primarily Botswana society. We are given a glimpse of village life, communal farming, and power structures within Botswana.

A Question of Power is a complex book and one that is hard to capture in a short review, or after a single reading. I can't say I found it particularly enjoyable because most of the book you are inside the head of a woman having a mental and emotional breakdown, and that's not a pleasant place to be. The structure and format is unusual, confusing, and utterly disorienting. There are no clear delineations between reality and fantasy/madness and as a result it took me a while to figure out exactly what was going on in the main story line. In this way, Head does a good job making the reader feel as if she (or he) is losing her mind along with the protagonist.

As a psychologist, I feel like I should have been more easily able to follow along with the protagonist's decent into madness. But, the whole process was so bizarre with some elements that felt extremely believable and genuine to the experience of a psychotic break while other elements felt out of place and disjointed. This is intentional because Head takes elements of a mental breakdown and infuses them with sociopolitical meaning about power dynamics (gender, racial/ethnic dynamics, and colonization). The two men who inhabit her hallucinations represent different elements of power dynamics and social relations and therefore the descent into madness is about more than personal insanity. Sello represents the spiritual and Dan the sexual.

I gave this book three stars because I had a hard time trying to follow and understand all the symbolism that was clearly an integral part of the book. This is my own limitation and not the book's limitation but I read this book with the feeling that I was trying to scoop up handfuls of sand and every time I got close to closing my fist, the grains of understanding would start to slip through my fingers. I did really enjoy the more concrete sections about the communal farming and community relationships, perhaps because those were sections that were easy to understand relative to the rest of the novel.

I would recommend this book because I think it is a complicated and interesting read, but it requires time and effort to be able to follow. Be forewarned that the book contains a fair amount of the sexual imagery.
This novel is a deeply psychological story of a woman who suffers a nervous breakdown. Relocation against one's will was something the author understood. I believe this novel is comparable to "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad.
"A Question of Power" is about race, gender, religion, self-control and self-loathing. It is not easy to read, particularly when you think about how much in the book reflects Bessie Head's own sad life, but it is absolutely worth reading for her beautiful language and for a perspective that is too often overlooked. I hope more people will find this book.
Great experimental form that somehow tragically represents questions of miscegenation, femininity, mental health, and South African history and politics magically.
The story is told in a genuine way that is the confusion of life and sanity. Tumultuous and broken. Beautiful.
In A Question of Power, Bessie Head makes a deep exploration into the life of a woman in her world which is governed by every day efforts of the characters to exercise control or have an edge over those they are dealing with. Brilliantly written, this fast moving and deep novel is a recommended book for someone interested in women in this politically liberal part of Africa.I see echoes of other African stories like The Oaf, The Usurper and Others.This is an intuitively observed story with a fascinating plot and great narrative and dialogue.
In Bessie Head’s novel Question of Power, Head explores the dehumanization of humans through strict classification binaries by investigating the stigma around mental health. The novel, which is narrated from the perspective of the possibly mentally ill Elizabeth, presents the absurd in a belligerent manner so as to blur the line between reality and psychosis.

Bombarded by casual absurd and twisted normal, the reader becomes so desensitized and distanced from reality that Elizabeth’s perception of the world is no longer easily distinguishable to be truthful or deluded. Head’s style of narrating through the unending barrage of disconnected discourse and stream of consciousness causes the reader to go just as mad as Elizabeth, at least for the course of the novel. Yet, such madness is a compliment, for the main character Elizabeth can only reach her heightened level of self-awareness because she has gone mad.

In the same way, the reader, who enters the novel with preset binaries for race, gender, and everything else in society, slowly begins to evolve into someone with no specific expectations. By removing the reader’s ability to automatically designate good and bad judgment upon things through a strict binary view of life, Head uses literature to enable the reader to escape the double bind and view ethics in an entirely new manner, unfettered by the old presumptions ingrained by societal norms.

Bessie Head is a must-read. Her writing style is unique, and while A Question of Power may not necessarily be your cup of tea, you should definitely give at least one of her books a try.