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Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

On-line version ISSN 2309-9070
Print version ISSN 0041-476X


BURGER, Willie. Language as "entry" into the real world: travel, imagination, memory and identity in Breytenbach's A Veil of Footsteps. Tydskr. letterkd. [online]. 2009, vol.46, n.2. ISSN 2309-9070.

Travelling is a central motive in A Veil of Footsteps (and in Breytenbach's oeuvre). In this work, travelling is a metaphor for imagination. Breytenbach pleads for continual travelling because "the earth needs to be discovered and remembered again and again". Breytenbach suggests that discovery and remembering require imagination. In the first part of this article the dependancy of imagination on language (the "footsteps" of the title) is investigated, using Paul Ricoeur's concept of a "semantic imagination". In the second part of the article three implications of imagination's dependancy on language is identified in A Veil of Footsteps. Firstly the close tie between imagination and memory (the book is described as a memoir); secondly the importance of imagination for identity; and thirdly the need for imagination to enable an ethical response for one's actions, are examined.

Keywords : Breyten Breytenbach; identity; imagination; memory; travel.

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