Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Tydskrif vir Letterkunde]]> vol. 55 num. 3 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Introduction: Dogs in every corner</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Dog stories and why they matter</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Take a bow: Art and dog communication</b>]]> Bentham's query "[...] the question is not can they reason? Nor can they talk? But, Can they suffer?" (Bentham 8) drew attention away from language and the interior life of animals and focused it instead on the question of suffering. Just what suffering is left to the human to decide; a debate, which forms a large part of the discourse in the animal rights movement. But what happens if we were to return to the unanswered part of Bentham's quote, the questions that Descartes so famously answered in the negative: "Can they reason?" "Can they talk?" These questions have been banned by scientific and philosophical discourse up until recently when the burgeoning interest in the 'animal question' re-opened the debate. Making the assumption that animals can indeed 'talk' I investigate the nature of dog/human/dog communication using as a conduit the art of South African artists, Elizabeth Gunter, Daniel Naudé and myself. I propose that dog to human and human to dog communication relies on nonverbal means such as bodily semiotics, prosody and other ineffable means that are not dependent on symbolic language. <![CDATA[<b>"We are all souls": Dogs, dog-wo/men and borderlands in Coetzee and Tyulkin</b>]]> Examining the notion of "dog-men" in Coetzee's Disgrace and Tyulkin's documentary Not about Dogs, I argue that when the main characters become dog-men and dog-women they share with dogs the status of subaltern border-creatures. I view the spaces in the Eastern Cape and eastern Kazakhstan as borderlands which parallel the mythic lands of Dog-men from White's anthropological study Myths of the Dog-man. These spaces of human-dog interactions, in turn, relate to Foucauldian heterotopias as sites that establish alternative modes of power relations <![CDATA[<b>Dog guides as witnesses with specific reference to Miles and Houellebecq</b>]]> Since Wild Dog first crawled from the Wet Wild Woods and laid his head on Woman's lap, he has helped man, not only to hunt and protect, but also as guide. A guide with enhanced senses in the physical world who could find a way across unmarked landscapes, a clever empathic being who could lead man to certain places or to specific individuals. No wonder then that the best-known ancient dog deities accompany humans as guides, often on their way to the afterlife. Dog guides-not to be confused with guide dogs-have remained a constant feature of the representation of dogs in literature, reflecting as much of the nature of these dogs as of the nature and needs of the humans they attend. In this way, the human-animal relationship also reveals how the solipsistic tendencies of human self-definition limits our capacity for being in the world. In the two contemporary novels that form the basis of my enquiry, La Possibilité d'une île (2005) by Michel Houellebecq and Op 'n dag, 'n hond (2016) by John Miles, the agency of dog guides introduces an intriguing element of distancing, reminding us that the self has meaning only in relation to another and that human concerns are not absolute. <![CDATA[<b>Canine embodiment in South African lyric poetry</b>]]> This article discusses South African lyric poetry in English including translations since the 1960s. Rather than being private statements, South African lyrics, like all lyrics, are essentially dialogic-in relation to the philosophical, the political or the psychological. The poems examined here are in dialogue with dogs, their embodiment, their subjectivities, their contiguities with humans. This article considers how trans-species entanglements between human and canine, whether convivial or adversarial, manifest poetically in myriad ways in gendered and/or racialised contexts and analyses how the vulnerabilities of both humans and dogs are made to intersect. Ruth Miller portrays dogs as divine creations who are uncertain and "embarrassed". Ingrid Jonker's poems intertwine human and canine, foregrounding gendered vulnerabilities. Where dogs are figured metonymically, entanglements of human and dog break down binary categorisations, in Jonker's poems as well as in those of other poets. Mongane Wally Serote's creatural humans, for example, seem both animal and human. Oswald Mtshali figures dogs within apartheid structures as antagonists, protectors or savage scavengers. More recent poems, influenced perhaps by new thinking about the animal subject, imagine dogs in compassionate interspecies connections. Many of these recent elegiac poems, in particular those by Jenna Mervis and Harry Owen, are attentive to beloved dogs but without sentimentality or the imposition of an anthropocentric focus. <![CDATA[<b>Symbolic values of the dog in Afrikaans literature</b>]]> The dog is a universal, archetypical symbol of fidelity and loyalty. However, in literature-and especially in South African literature-the dog (as well as the hyena and the wolf) often symbolises the diabolical. In some instances the dog is also symbolic of the dark side of human nature, of dehumanisation and even of death. The canine symbol in Afrikaans literature has both European and African origins. When canines appear in their natural (literal) form in Afrikaans poems and narratives, they are for the most part portrayed in a positive (compassionate) way. As soon as they appear in a figurative (allegorical) capacity though, as a symbol or metaphor, they mostly represent something ominous. The ambivalent nature of dogs-they are both caring and brutal-is reflected in Afrikaans literature. In this article the contradictory (symbolic) depiction of canines will be explored in various Afrikaans poems and novels. This article thus falls within the framework of animal studies, the interdisciplinary field which analyses how nonhuman animals are portrayed and viewed within literature. <![CDATA[<b>Afrikaans stories of Jackal and Hyena: Oral and written traditions</b>]]> This paper scrutinizes two wild relatives of dogs, namely jackals and hyenas, who feature prominently in Afrikaans children's literature by way of African oral tradition, specifically Khoi oral literature. The stories of Jakkals (Jackal) and Wolf (Hyena) illustrate the ways in which Khoi orature found its way into Afrikaans (children's) literature in a gradual process culminating in appropriation. The paper shows how Afrikaans literary scholars charted this process and what mechanisms they employed to diminish the role played by the original Khoi storytellers-a denial of the context in which the stories were created that persists until today. Apart from reference to a separate oral tradition of Jackal and Hyena stories that developed amongst white Afrikaans speakers, the specific focus of the paper is on the Afrikaans animal tales published by G. R. von Wielligh since all later publications by other authors draw on the Von Wielligh stories to an extent. The paper concludes with suggestions for further research that departs from outmoded approaches to African oral literature. <![CDATA[<b>Oswald Pirow's <i>Ashambeni </i>(1955): A "history" of dogs, humans, werewolves</b>]]> In this paper I explore the human-dog interaction in Oswald Pirow's Ashambeni (1955). I focus on the position of the dog in Pirow's depiction of a world where the lives of animals and humans, and the natural and supernatural world, are entangled. In the novel, there are references to real historical figures and particulars of Portuguese East Africa and the South African Lowveld around 1850. The historical context sketched in the novel is from Pirow's far-right, racist perspective. While most critics place Pirow's work in the folkloric tradition, Ashambeni is more than a folkloric tale since it promotes Pirow's offensive views. In Ashambeni the role of the dog ranges from valuable possession to loving companion to hunting and fighting tool. It shows that a dog history cannot be separated from a human history, and that dogs are part of the social and cultural life of humans. The depiction of human-dog interaction in Ashambeni points to a historical anthropocentric entanglement rather than the boundary-crossing entanglement between human and animal proposed by contemporary human-animal studies. The human characters control the dog characters' status in the human society. Even more problematic, the description of the dogs is tied up with Pirow's racist ideology and subjective account of history. <![CDATA[<b>On queerly reading canid tropes in Eben Venter's <i>Wolf, Wolf</i></b>]]> The intertwined effect of loss of power on facets of masculinist identity (being a son, a lover, a citizen) and on categories of belonging (filial, intimate, national) is explored in Eben Venter's Wolf, Wolf (2013). As the protagonist tries to navigate the lived actuality of contemporary South African life, the experience of multiple loss(es) leads him to consider the possibility of alternative ways of navigating the 'in-between' spaces of family structures, intimate connection, and national belonging. Curiously, the presence of canid tropes and canid symbolism appear alongside considerations of belonging. This article explores a reading of the canid presence and how it can productively be read as external manifestations of affective states, notably desire, shame and exclusion. Venter's intentional blurring of boundaries (especially within homoerotic and homosocial bonds) between dog/wolf/jackal and man, citizen and immigrant, messy, carnal corporality and immaterial sterile cyberspace, queers the relationships presented in the narrative. The canid presence (an erotised wolfhound mask, farm dogs as machinic extensions of white masculinity, sustained ontological slippage between dogs and immigrants) acts as textual indicator that the protagonist finds himself situated outside heteronormative, filial and national categories. <![CDATA[<b>Dark ecology and the representation of canids in Deon Meyer's <i>Fever</i></b>]]> Deon Meyer's post-apocalyptic novel, Fever, opens with Nico Storm, the narrator, and his father being attacked by dogs. Nico is only thirteen years old, but is forced to shoot the dogs to rescue his father. This incident sets the scene for the rest of the novel. It characterises Nico and his father and their relationship. It also informs the reader about the world in which the novel is set. Fever opens a few months after ninety-five percent of the world's population died as the result of a mysterious virus-one engineered in an attempt to redress ecological imbalances. In this article, the representation of dogs and other canids in Fever is used as a departure point to bring the worldviews of the various characters into dialogue with Timothy Morton's Dark Ecology. It is argued that the different worldviews (and the place accorded to canids in each) have political and ecological implications. Most of the worldviews can be understood in terms of what Morton calls the "agrilogistic loop" because they are based on the assumption that humans can and should manipulate the nonhuman. Two characters' view of canids are, however, closer to what Morton terms "ecognosis", because they acknowledge humans' (and canids') entanglement with the rest of nature. <![CDATA[<b>Canine agents in two South African short stories</b>]]> This article explores the role of the figure of the dog in two contemporary South African short stories. It considers the metaphorical-cum-allegorical significance of the textual animal in these texts, asking how the writers use dogs as imaginative devices to draw attention to issues of gender, human emotions or psychoses, and the avowal or disavowal of (human and animal) agency. The aim is to engage with the writers' evident wish both to comment on human-animal relationships and encounters in contemporary South African society, and to emphasise how these become effective, affective means of commenting on the continued inequities of post-apartheid society. <![CDATA[<b>History, politics and dogs in Zimbabwean literature, c.1975-2015</b>]]> Zimbabwean fiction writers have engaged with dogs as objects, subjects and even actors. This essay focuses on the pivotal forty-year period between 1975 and 2015, which saw the end of white rule, the rise of an independent African state and the collapse of that state. In analysing how selected writers have variously made use of dogs, we discuss the extent to which writers deal with human-dog relations. We buttress our point by examining key pieces of fiction in which dogs appear and we unpack the extent to which fictive representations of humans and dogs approximate lived relations in pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial settings. We show the enduring relevance of dogs as metaphors of power in the Zimbabwean political landscape. We contend that such canine allegories have a history and explore their usage by creative writers over the last forty years. <![CDATA[<b>Wildness and colonialism in "The Story of Two Dogs" by Doris Lessing</b>]]> Dogs play an important role in colonial society, especially in Africa. While the project of colonisation involves settling in a new country and confronting wild animals, the dog is one animal on which the settler can rely as an ally, protector and companion. Settler dogs whose breeds stem from Britain are in a sense the animal counterpart of the human settler. When these animals desert their owners either by cross-breeding with indigenous dogs or reverting to the wild, it can seem like a betrayal of their settler owners and of the colonial project. Doris Lessing explores this dilemma in "The Story of Two Dogs" which is a semi-autobiographical story of her family and their dogs. She grew up in the 1930s on a farm in colonial Rhodesia. Lessing creates an ironical narrative voice that undermines colonial discourse and exposes racial and class prejudice among the settler community. Through the lens of the dogs she also draws attention to gender conflict and the subjugation of women in matters of dog training and hunting. In addition, conflict between adults and children is brought out which points to possibilities of a more open approach to the question of dog breeding, training and ownership. She also raises questions about the ultimate nature of the dog and its status as a domesticated animal. <![CDATA[<b>"They've killed the dogs!": Land, literature and canines in contemporary Zimbabwe</b>]]> This article explores the positioning of the dog in representations of farm takeovers in Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2017. It highlights the localised embeddedness of animal lives within social processes at a specific juncture of postcolonial history. The article focuses particularly on this moment marked by abrupt reversals of power, geographical distributions of people and animals, and the erasure of many physical and psychological borderlines. It focuses particularly on two novels, Graham Lang's Place of Birth (2006) and Ian Holding's Unfeeling (2005). It examines ways in which dogs feature as both physical presences and as psychological refractors for human responses to the violent invasions depicted in these novels. Animals of all kinds have been largely neglected in studies of the land-appropriation process, and the article gestures towards the fruitful combination of animal studies and an historically-situated, multispecies, postcolonial ecocriticism.