Stenographic fictions: Mary Benson’s At the Still Point and the South African political trial

Louise Bethlehem*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


From the mid-1960s onward, compilations of the speeches and trial addresses of South African opponents of apartheid focused attention on the apartheid regime despite intensified repression in the wake of the Rivonia Trial. Mary Benson’s novel, At the Still Point, transposes the political trial into fiction. Its “stenographic” codes of representation open Benson’s text to what Paul Gready, following Foucault, has analyzed as the state’s “power of writing”: one that entangles the political trialist in a coercive intertextual negotiation with the legal apparatus of the apartheid regime. Through a form of metaleptic rupture, however, the novel is also opened to constructs of Holocaust memory. Drawing on Michael Rothberg’s paradigm of “multidirectional memory,” the article investigates how the novel stages other contestations over racialized suffering at the end of a decade that began with the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)193-212
Number of pages20
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Eichmann trial
  • Mary Benson
  • South African political trials
  • multidirectional memory
  • the Holocaust


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