The Imagination of Freedom

Critical Texts and Times in Contemporary Liberalism
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Dimensions and Pages: 220 x 150 mm, 328 pp
  • EAN: 9781868144921
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 100.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): n/a

The Imagination of Freedom is a breath of fresh air. At last, a view of literary studies that speaks to the real world where political conduct, social justice and individual freedom matter. Broad in scope, theoretically and philosophically astute, up-to­-date, yet written clearly and accessibly, Andrew Foley’s scholarship maps out a path which not only suggests a possible future for literary studies, but may restore to them some of the profound challenge they once held for those who recognise that shaping a better society is what human life is about.

—Laurence Wright, Rhodes University, South Africa

The political history of humankind in modern times can be characterised essentially as the struggle for freedom. Concom­itant­ly, much of the most significant contemporary literature has concerned itself with the idea of human freedom.

Andrew Foley explores the work of a number of writers who have responded, from a liberal viewpoint, to critical moments in contemporary political history when such freedom has come under severe threat. These writers have used the power of the creative imagination to provide a critique of the illiberal practices of their times and to reassert an alternative vision of a free and open society, founded upon the ideals of individual liberty and social justice. The Imagination of Freedom thus refers both to the writers’ critically independent analyses of the wrongs of their social contexts, as well as to their ability to imagine and describe a more just and equitable social order.

Foley presents a detailed, contextualised discussion of the work of Alan Paton, Chinua Achebe, Ken Kesey, Seamus Heaney, Fay Weldon, Athol Fugard, Mario Vargas Llosa, Ian McEwan and others, in order to pursue three interrelated aims: to reassess the significance of the work of these writers from a contemporary perspective; to clarify their political vision as liberal writers; and more generally to develop a case for liberalism as a coherent and compelling political philosophy.
Among the works that are discussed are:

  • Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country
  • Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
  • Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Seamus Heaney’s North
  • Fay Weldon’s Praxis
  • Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa!
  • Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Feast of the Goat
  • Ian McEwan’s Saturday

Andrew Foley is Professor and Head of the Department of English in the School of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

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