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A Chain of Voices Paperback – March 1, 1983
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From the Back Cover
Cruelty and passion are evoked in this luminous story of a slave rebellion set in a remote part of South Africa in 1825. At its heart is the confrontation between two men: one white, the other black; one master, the other a slave; two brothers joined as friends and torn asunder as adults in their tragic struggle for freedom. Based on the actual slave revolt and published simultaneously in Afrikaans and English, A Chain of Voices spans three generations of the living and the dead.
“The story…will inevitably evoke comparisons with William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner, a work to which it is substantially superior in insight and artistry.”
-Julian Moynahan, New York Times Book Review
“A Chain of Voices is the truest and most provocative study of existential rebellion since the publication in 1951 of Camus’s seminal work, The Rebel. Like Camus, Brink reminds us that no matter the human condition, there remains within an indomitable spark bursting to be free, a spirit which may in the end be able to abide physical slavery but never mental imprisonment.”
-News and ObserverRaleigh
“Brink is a good storyteller, adept at the selection and building of detail and the pacing of a momentum which sweeps the reader to its climax.”
“A Chain of Voices is a broadside of a book…It has much to say about the universality of oppression and the equally ubiquitous striving for freedom.”
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
André Brink is one of South Africa's most eminent novelists. He is the author of seventeen works of fiction, has been twice shortlisted for the Booker prize and is an outspoken recorder of South Africa's turbulent history from the days of apartheid to the present.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
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Also, this book needs to end about 100 pages sooner than it does -- the italicized ending drags on and on and on, and by that time you just want to see The End.
Brink keeps talking after he has nothing left to say. Little laughter and no triumph. Even the most serious of novels needs some leavening. This one rises, rises, rises -- but is left with a semi-flattened crown none the less. Not half-baked, not by any means, but unevenly baked. Absorbing, but ultimately - meh.
With 'A chain of voices', Brink explores the dynamics of another oppresive regime: slavery. It is evident, however, that what Brink does in this novel is to go back to the institution of slavery to explore 'apartheid' in a similar way to 'A dry white season'. And what he finds, again, is ugly. At many levels, Brink tells us that any oppresive regime corrupts all human relationships, and that it can even transform--in a Frankenstein-like fashion--victims into victimizers. Not only is white pitted against black, but also wife against husband, father against children, brother against brother, and friend against friend. Brink brilliantly accomplishes this feat by giving voice to those that are senselessly involved in the oppresive dynamics of slavery, in a true 'chain of voices'.
The novel is set in the early 1800s in the Western Cape, in the beautiful area around Tulbagh and Worcester. From the very beginning, we know that three white men (two masters and one schoolteacher) have been killed by a group of slaves in a small-scale rebellion. What the novel does so well is to go back through the forces that led to that ending. In the process, one finds that the oppressor oftentimes is not aware of his oppression, that he is not enterely evil in the naive way that he is almost always portrayed, and that, incredible as it might seem, there is human side to him. On the other hand, one also finds that those that are oppressed are forced to commit acts of cruelty, even against those they supposedly love, in an effort to assert some power. In the end, however, everybody, but particularly the male characters, is a victim and a victimizer.
Even though I enjoyed the novel, with its deep psychological analysis of the characters involved, I found that the language seems too modern and sometimes too sophisticated for the 1800s setting. Also, there is some repetitiveness, particularly in the sexual domination of women. Despite this, I thoroughly recommend this novel to anyone interested in Brink's novels and the psychological consequences of oppressive regimes.