SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

 
vol.40 issue1Twee gedigte'We live one in another': The Gothic and uncanny representation of the female double in The Crime of Laura Sarelle by Joseph Shearing (pseudonym of Marjorie Bowen) author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand

Article

Indicators

Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google

Share


Literator (Potchefstroom. Online)

On-line version ISSN 2219-8237
Print version ISSN 0258-2279

Literator vol.40 n.1 Mafikeng  2019

http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/lit.v40i1.1573 

Turning back to the materiality of the station and its artefacts, the orientations of these students as transcribed in Box 2 again nuance the parallels between discourse and narrative interaction. Their stories and evaluations do match both the 'Change the Game' slogan of the billboard and the institutional weight of the discourses that circulate, but this matching takes place within their community of practice that here gains in solidity and cohesion. The events of Boxes 1 and 2 are in the process of becoming shared stories, stories that will be shared by the group and inform subsequent interpretative viewpoints (see Georgakopoulou 2006:127) in the context of future retellings and transpositions of this story. Interpretative viewpoints concern how a participant uses narrativised prior knowledge to construct his or her subsequent interactions. This narrativisation can be seen in the fact that the speakers of Box 2 are characterising themselves and in so doing changing their footing in the situation of interaction. It is the case in Afrika's assertion that she felt like a lawyer (turn [19]), but it is also the reason for her attribution of direct speech to the personnel in turn (22). Use of direct speech is an indication of employment of the insertion of events into story lines. She introduces the direct speech at (22) with the quotative 'like', 'like< hhh () like bad customers'. Mohau also characterises his resistance to the situation in a similar way at turn (20) using 'like' as both focaliser and quotative, 'and I was like he::ll () no:: () [laughter] we we doing this () like'.

This evaluation of experience through narrativisation brings out another level at which the transcripts of the participants can be read against the material discourses of the environing space. In characterisation, if not completely in the situation of interaction, Mohau does 'change the game'. Navigation of practice and discourse occurs at both the level of the storied world and at the level of the situation of interaction with changes in footing by participants as they near or distance themselves through narrativisation strategies.

 

Conclusion

This article has investigated the negotiation of periphery and centre of a group of born-free university students. The central focus has been on how this negotiation could be studied in the narrative interactions of participants, and through the interplay between these and material discourses. The structuring axis for the investigation has been the emphasis, brought by the small stories approach to narrative, on telling as practice and on the responsiveness of the storied world to the contours of the storytelling world. This emphasis was translated, firstly, in a concern to map the trajectory of participant stories both geographically and biographically. Secondly, it prompted an exploration of the material discourses pertinent to the situation of interaction. Finally, it led to a consideration of the identity work being accomplished by the participants.

By mapping participant stories, we have been able to better understand the coordinates of the account that the participants co-constructed and the indexicality of these coordinates. In exploring the material discourses of the site in which the story was told, we have been better able to appreciate the articulation of institutional discourses and the orientation of participants towards those discourses. In considering the identity work being accomplished by participants, we have seen how important narrativisation can be to community of practice. The discussion has highlighted the points of intersection of narrative research, geosemiotic analysis of artefacts of the semiotic landscape and the axes of intersubjectivity pertinent to interlocutor orientation and evaluation. The telling of stories, and the evaluation thereof, allows members of a group to navigate the discourses and practices implied by their changing position in social and material space.

 

Acknowledgements

Sincere thanks go to the participants to this research and to structures such as the Sandton City Mall, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the Sandton Convention Centre as well as Johannesburg City.

Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Author's contributions

I am the sole author of this article.

Ethical consideration

Data were collected in the context of a doctoral project with the University of the Witwatersrand (ethics clearance number H15/07/23).

Funding

The research presented was funded through Oppenheimer Memorial Trust and National Research Foundation Freestanding Doctoral awards. Currently, the author benefits from a National Research Foundation Freestanding Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.

 

References

Bamberg, M., 1997, 'Positioning between structure and performance', Journal of Narrative and Life History 7(1-4), 335-342. https://doi.org/10.1075/jnlh.7.42pos        [ Links ]

Bamberg, M. (ed.), 2007, Narrative - State of the art, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia.

Bamberg, M., 2008, 'Twice-told tales: Small story analysis and the process of identity formation', in T. Sugiman, K.J. Gergen, W. Wagner & Y. Yamada (eds.), Meaning in action: Constructions, narratives, and representations, pp. 183-222, Springer, Japan.

Boyce, G., 2010, 'Youth voices in South Africa: Echoes in the age of hope', in B. Roberts, M.W. Kivilu & Y.D. Davids (eds.), South African social attitudes: The 2nd Report, pp. 87-104, HSRC Press, Pretoria.

Bucholtz, M. & Hall, K., 2004a, 'Theorising identity in language and sexuality research', Language in Society 33(4), 469-515. https://doi.org/10.1017/S004740450044021        [ Links ]

Bucholtz, M. & Hall, K., 2004b, 'Language and identity', in A. Duranti (ed.), A companion to linguistic anthropology, pp. 369-394, Blackwell, Oxford.

Bucholtz, M. & Hall, K., 2005, 'Identity and interaction: A sociocultural linguistic approach', Discourse Studies 7(4-5), 585-614. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445605054407        [ Links ]

De Fina, A., 2009a, 'Narratives in interview - The case of accounts (for an interactional approach to narrative genres)', Narrative Inquiry 19(2), 233-258. https://doi.org/10.1075/ni.19.2.03def        [ Links ]

De Fina, A., 2009b, 'From space to spatialization in narrative studies', in J. Collins, S. Slembrouck & M. Baynham (eds.), Globalization and language in contact: Scale, migration and communicative practices, pp. 109-129, Continuum, London and New York.

De Fina, A. & Georgakopoulou, A., 2008, 'Analysing narratives as practices', Qualitative Research 8(3), 379-387. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794106093634        [ Links ]

De Fina, A. & Georgakopoulou, A. (eds.), 2015, The handbook of narrative analysis, Wiley Blackwell, Oxford.

Ditsele, T. & Mann, C.C., 2014, 'Language contact in African urban settings: The case of Sepitori in Tshwane', South African Journal of African Languages 34(2), 150-165. https://doi.org/10.1080/02572117.2014.997052        [ Links ]

Dlamini, J., 2009, Native Nostalgia, Jacana, Johannesburg.

Eckert, P. & McConnell-Ginet, S., 1992, 'Think practically and look locally: Language and gender as community based practice', Annual Review of Anthropology 1992(21), 461-90. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.21.100192.002333        [ Links ]

Georgakopoulou, A., 2005, 'Styling men and masculinities: Interactional and identity aspects at work', Language in Society 34(2), 163-184. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404505050074        [ Links ]

Georgakopoulou, A., 2006, 'Thinking big with small stories in narrative and identity analysis', Narrative Inquiry 16(1), 122-130. https://doi.org/10.1075/ni.16.1.16geo        [ Links ]

Jacobs, M. & Payet, J-P., 2013, 'Les mondes juvéniles d'une génération née libre: Dynamiques de déracialisation chez les adolescents des ex-townships scolarisés dans l'Afrique du Sud (Johannesburg) post-Apartheid', Presses de Sciences Po (P.F.N.S.P.) (66), 3-20. https://doi.org/10.3917/autr.066.0003        [ Links ]

Kane-Berman, J., 2015, Born free but still in chains: South Africa's first post-apartheid generation, South African Institute of Race Relations, Johannesburg.

Kress, G. & Van Leeuwen, T., 2006, Reading images: The grammar of visual design, Routledge, London and New York.

Labov, W., 1972, Language in the inner city, University of Pennsylvania Press, Pennsylvania, PA.

Mattes, R., 2012, 'The "born frees": The prospects for generational change in post-apartheid South Africa', Australian Journal of Political Science 47(1), 133-153. https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2011.643166        [ Links ]

Sacks, H., (1986), 'Some considerations of a story told in ordinary conversations', Poetics 15, 127-138. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(86)90036-7        [ Links ]

Scollon, R., 2001, Mediated discourse [the nexus of practice], Routledge, London and New York.

Scollon, R. & Scollon, S.W., 2003, Discourses in place: Language in the material world, Routledge, London and New York.

Seekings, J., 2013, 'The social and political implications of demographic change in post-Apartheid South Africa', The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 652(1), 70-86. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716213508265        [ Links ]

Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), 2011, Census, Statistics South Africa, Pretoria.

Stroud, C. & Mpendukana, S., 2009, 'Towards a material ethnography of linguistic landscape: Multilingualism, mobility and space in a South African township', Journal of Sociolinguistics 13(3), 363-386. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2009.00410.x        [ Links ]

Thurlow, C. & Jaworski, A., 2017, 'Word-things and thing-words: the transmodal production of privilege and status', in J.R. Cavanaugh & S. Shankar (eds.), Language and materiality: ethnographic and theoretical explorations, pp. 185-203, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Vigh, H., 2009, 'Motion squared: A second look at the concept of social navigation', Anthropological theory 9(4), 419-438. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463499609356044        [ Links ]

 

 

Correspondence:
William Kelleher
william.kelleher@up.ac.za

Received: 15 Nov. 2018
Accepted: 18 June 2019
Published: 29 Aug. 2019

 

 

1 . NSFAS or the National Student Financial Aid Scheme is the governmental service that supports students' tertiary studies.
2 . #FeesMustFall was the hashtag for a series of student-led protests calling for fee reduction or annulment, and more inclusive support strategies in the tertiary education sector in South Africa from 2015. The movement is strongly aligned with decolonisation as this affects teaching, such as in language policy or admissions.

^rND^sBamberg^nM.^rND^sBucholtz^nM.^rND^sHall^nK.^rND^sBucholtz^nM.^rND^sHall^nK.^rND^sDe Fina^nA^rND^sDe Fina^nA.^rND^sGeorgakopoulou^nA.^rND^sDitsele^nT.^rND^sMann^nC.C.^rND^sEckert^nP.^rND^sMcConnell-Ginet^nS.^rND^sGeorgakopoulou^nA.^rND^sGeorgakopoulou^nA.^rND^sJacobs^nM.^rND^sPayet^nJ-P.^rND^sMattes^nR^rND^sSacks^nH.^rND^sSeekings^nJ^rND^sStroud^nC.^rND^sMpendukana^nS.^rND^sVigh^nH.^rND^1A01^nAllyson^sKreuiter^rND^1A01^nAllyson^sKreuiter^rND^1A01^nAllyson^sKreuiter

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

 

'We live one in another': The Gothic and uncanny representation of the female double in The Crime of Laura Sarelle by Joseph Shearing (pseudonym of Marjorie Bowen)

 

 

Allyson Kreuiter

Department of English Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

Margaret Gabrielle Vere Long, née Campbell, was born in 1885 and died in 1952; she wrote mostly under the name of Marjorie Bowen. She was a prolific writer and produced historical romances, supernatural horror stories, popular history, biographies and an autobiography. Writing under the pseudonym Joseph Shearing, Bowen produced what can be considered Gothic mystery novels such as The Crime of Laura Sarelle (1941). In this article, I will conduct a close reading of this novel and will argue that Bowen's reimagining of the character Laura as simultaneously heroine and femme fatale, as well as eerily possessed by a ghostly past, makes an important contribution to the Gothic trope of the female double. Through a comparison of Bowen's evocation of the double and that of Daphne du Maurier's more famous evocation of the double in Rebecca (1938), I aim to demonstrate that Bowen's use of the double is more Gothically compelling and powerful than that of du Maurier. Moreover, I will contend that Bowen's unusual rendering of Gothic themes, along with her stylistic elegance, makes her work worthy of further scholarly study.

Keywords: Marjorie Bowen; Gothic; female double; Daphne du Maurier; uncanny.


 

 

Introduction

On a 1965 Berkley Medallion cover for the novel The Crime of Laura Sarelle, written by Marjorie Bowen under the pseudonym Joseph Shearing, the following blurb appears: 'A hypnotic story of terror surpassing Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca'. In retrospect, this is an interesting piece of puffery, as, although du Maurier's Rebecca is much studied and was recently the subject of a film remake, Bowen's work has fallen into obscurity. Yet there are many thematic and plot similarities between Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca, published in 1938, and Laura Sarelle, published in 1940 in London and as The Crime of Laura Sarelle in the United States in 1941. I shall use the shorter British title, Laura Sarelle, in this article. Margaret Gabrielle Vere Long, née Campbell, was born in 1885 and died in 1952; she wrote mostly under the name of Marjorie Bowen. She was a prolific writer, in much the same manner as other female authors who wrote to support families, like Mrs Oliphant (1828-1897), E.M. Braddon (1835-1915) and Edith Nesbit (1858-1924). Bowen's oeuvre consists of historical romances, supernatural horror stories, popular history, biographies and an autobiography. Writing under the pseudonym Joseph Shearing, Bowen produced what can be considered Gothic mystery novels, a number of them based on true crimes. Other novels by Joseph Shearing, such as Moss Rose (1934), The Golden Violet (1941) and The Crime of Laura Sarelle (1941), were popular and commercially successful in the United States. Moss Rose (1947) and So Evil My Love (1948) were adapted into reasonably enjoyable films. Whether writing as Bowen or Shearing many of her novels are concerned with the supernatural, ghostly, moody and Gothically dramatic.

In her introduction to Bowen's Twilight and Other Supernatural Romances, Amanda Jessica Salmonson writes that Bowen's Shearing pseudonym seemed to ensure that 'he' was treated as 'something unique', as an 'endlessly inventive mystery writer who pulled few punches' (2013:loc 331). Salmonson notes that mystery critics were satisfied with the accuracy of the historical settings in Shearing's work, but that they were truly 'enamoured of stylistic excesses, clever plots, physical and emotional grotesqueries, mayhem, shocks and shivers' (2013:loc 368). It is these unruly aspects of Bowen's work that Salmonson correctly assesses as being the 'very ingredients' that so-called 'serious' critics tend to be quick to dismiss as unworthy of academic study (2013:loc 368). Along with the sadly deceased academic Edward Charles Wagenknecht (1990-2004), Salmonson is the only other person who has written any extensive critical appreciation of Bowen's work. In the introduction to the recent re-release of Bowen's 1949 work The Bishop of Hell & Other Stories (2006), Hilary Long, Bowen's son, mentions the fact that Bowen's work can be seen to emulate the Gothic thematics and atmosphere of works like Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto and the writings of Ann Radcliffe. Listing the aspects of Bowen's writing, such as ruined buildings, deserted landscapes, storm clouds, storms, closed mansions and unvisited graves, Long indicates these represent the writer's desire to evoke 'the fearsome, the forbidding and the perplexing' (Bowen 2006:7). Wagenknecht, Long and Salmonson are all of the opinion that Bowen's work, as Long phrases it, 'receives little note these days', a statement which seems markedly true given the apparent paucity of scholarship available (Bowen 2006:12). My article wishes to call attention to the importance of Bowen's reimagining of the Gothic trope of the female double that has been mostly overlooked and which I consider is worthy of more considered scholarship.

Referencing Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar's The Madwoman in the Attic (1979), scholar Catherine Spooner has indicated that writers such as Daphne du Maurier, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Emma Tennant and others have employed female doppelgängers in their novels. However, according to Spooner (2004), the concept of the female double is and remains a very under-examined representation. Through a close reading of the narrative of Laura Sarelle, I will examine Bowen's representation of the Gothic female doppelgänger and will argue that her rewriting and subversion of the double questions this figure as solely the preserve of masculine discourse. Furthermore, my article will contrast and compare Daphne du Maurier's evocation of the female double in Rebecca to that of Laura Sarelle, leading me to suggest that Bowen's portrayal of the female double is far more powerful than that of du Maurier. Laura Sarelle might appear to emulate what has been termed the female Gothic, yet her work, like that of Daphne du Maurier, does not entirely fit into the typical female Gothic plot.1 Instead, I would suggest that in Laura Sarelle, Bowen's approach is far more subversive and offers fertile ground for further exploration, but this remains outside the scope of the current article. Gothically compelling and innovative, Bowen's representation of the female double can be seen to undermine the dichotomy between villain and heroine, imprisonment and angst, past and present, and madness and identity, which mark this representation of the uncanny female double as exceptional.

 

The uncanny double

The concept of the double or doppelgänger and its uncanny nature usually relies on recourse to Sigmund Freud's 1919 essay The Uncanny. In this essay, Freud discussed the concept of das Unheimliche (unhomely) and das Heimliche (homely) exploring the supernatural, weird, uncomfortable, strange, hidden, dangerous and familiar or unfamiliar characteristics located within these two words, which closely align to features of the Gothic. In the second section of his essay, Freud goes on to relate the concept of the uncanny to the concept of the double. However, the double is more fully explored in Otto Rank's The Double first published in 1914, Ralph Tymms' 1949 work Doubles in Literary Psychology and, more recently, Karl Miller's 1985 study Doubles: Studies in Literary History. What is interesting about these studies is that most of the literary works presented in them are related to male writers of the 19th century, though in Miller's work he does consider a single female writer, Sylvia Plath. This seems to enforce the idea that the concept of the double is very much a male imaginative construction and textual discourse. As Catherine Spooner (2004:128) has suggested, the doppelgänger is usually associated with 'texts labelled as "male"' or ones that examine the 'psychology of the villain rather than the heroine' and deal with 'male angst' rather than 'female imprisonment'. The pioneering work, Madwoman in the Attic (1979), by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar is one of the first to examine the concept of the double in 19th century women's writing and little has since been done to more fully explore the figure of the female double. The double in the literature seems to remain a male imaginative construct and, therefore, though open to several psychoanalytical interpretations, still appears to be the purview of male writers and analysts. I will employ the work done on the double by both Freud and Rank in my examination of the representation of Laura Sarelle.

Otto Rank was interested in the literary appearance of the double and linked it to the spirit, which he regarded as distinct from the human body. Freud's work, based on that of Rank, related the double and the uncanny to the return of a hidden past. The double or doppelgänger is often considered demonic and is a representation of the repressed aspects of the character's persona, which can lead to the disintegration of subjectivity and madness. This idea of doubling is a recurring trope in Gothic literature that seems to ask us to 'read the protagonists as aspects of each other, a strategy of doubling which emphasises the instabilities of the boundaries of the self' (Horner & Zlosnik 2001:84). Catherine Spooner (2004:130) indicates that the double as a Gothic trope is marked by the 'stealing' by one character of another character's identity or is a state of being trapped in an alien identity. The double, according to Sara Wasson (2011:74), is linked to a divided self that psychoanalytically inflected literary criticism reads as repressed desires hidden from the light or as the fragmenting or fracturing of the self. Freud and Rank both suggest that the double can be a means to bolster a sense of self, but can simultaneously lead to a fracturing of the self. They relate this to a narcissistic longing to escape death or a denial of the death drive. Rank goes further and links the double to suicide. In contrast to Rank, Freud's discussion of the uncanny raises the question of whether an 'apparently animate object really is alive and conversely, whether a lifeless object might not perhaps be animate' (Freud citing Jentsch 2003:135). Elizabeth Bronfen (1992) suggests that this uneasy animate or inanimate binary results in a blurring between fantasy and reality in a 'defence against the constraints and the prohibitions of the symbolic and the real' (p. 113). The blurring between fantasy and reality is visible in the depiction of the character of Laura Sarelle, who seems labile and simultaneously both herself and 'another'. The 'prohibitions of the symbolic and the real', associated with masculine control and power in the novel, are undermined and subverted by Laura's mutability and her duplication as the Gothic double.

 

Return of a dark Gothic past

Laura Sarelle is set in 1840, three years into the reign of Queen Victoria, and 60 years away from the mystery around which the novel revolves.2 The basic plotline of the novel seems to follow a traditional Gothic narrative of a young girl, Laura, who is brought to a forbidding mansion in which she is semi-imprisoned by her older, autocratic brother, Theodosius. This remote and sinister mansion, Leppard Hall, is described throughout the novel as having a dark, gloomy, bleak and flat appearance and as a lonely place. Theodosius, in his eccentric unsociableness, ensures that Laura's social life, movement and identity become suspended, so that she is isolated, entrapped and bored. Laura is very young and disliked by her brother as a person and as a responsibility; however, she is also of use to him as an economic and lineage tool. His wish is to marry her to a wealthy man who will assume the surname Sarelle, and this is something that Laura is unable to directly gainsay, as she is completely subject to Theodosius's control and authority. Instead, she employs wiles and manipulation, along with what is considered excessive behaviour, to subvert expectations and, thus, to escape Theodosius's tyranny. Laura is in love with her brother's steward, secretary and erstwhile friend Lucius Delaunay. Although of the same class as the Sarelles, Lucius has no fortune being the youngest son. It is Laura's love for Lucius, along with her dictatorial brother forcing her into an arranged marriage with Harry Mostyn but, far more importantly, her intense dislike of the portrait of her ancestress Laura Sarelle and hatred of Leppard Hall and its secrets, which drives the narrative's plot and acts as the catalyst in the tragic denouement. The Gothic and alienating nature of Leppard Hall and the madness that seems to emanate from within it is, I suggest, Bowen's genuflection to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Both Laura Sarelle and her brother are born and raised in Jamaica with the hint at a possible predisposition to insanity. Laura's female companion Mrs Sylk indicates that she 'faintly disliked dark people and both Sir Theodosius and Laura were very dark' having a '"foreign blackness" in hair and eye' (Bowen 2017:loc 470), characteristics that seem to hint at the same mixed ancestry ascribed to Bertha Rochester in Jane Eyre. Bowen hints that the current line of Sarelles, who now own Leppard Hall, is marked by instability and degeneracy. Their fortune has accrued from the sale of possessions in Jamaica, and this reference to Jamaica might be considered a subtle critique of colonialism and the economic wealth based on slavery that funds the male Sarelles. This, probably tainted, wealth now acts to enslave the young Laura and is one of the factors that can be seen to precipitate her mental instability. Bowen subtly creates intertextual links to Jane Eyre as like Thornfield Hall, Leppard Hall is funded through wealth from the colonies that comes with accursed ghosts and secrets and a final descent into madness and destruction.

Edward Wagenknecht (1991:160) regards the novel Laura Sarelle as an exploration of 'the past impinging upon and almost controlling the present'. This reliance on a dark past returning into the present is what Chris Baldick (1992) considers a central feature necessary for a work to be considered a Gothic narrative:

For the Gothic effect to be attained a tale should combine a fearful sense of inheritance in time with a claustrophobic sense of enclosure in space, these two dimensions reinforcing one another to produce an impression of sickening descent into disintegration (p. xix)

It is the inheritance of a past contained within the confines of a specific space which leads to a fraught uncomfortableness and fear that is caught in Bowen's novel. This uneasiness is created through an evocation of a sense of something inexplicable taking place that promises a dreadful conclusion. The plot of Laura Sarelle revolves around a secret concerning a dark event from the past suppressed by the male line of the Sarelles as antithetical to their belief in rationalism, as well as a cover for their avarice. This concealment of what Baldick refers to as the 'fearful sense of inheritance' will lead to Laura's quest to discover the 'truth' that results in a murder that replicates the past and is followed by a descent into madness and death. It is the hidden past, and the stories and superstition surrounding it, which authoritative characters, such as Laura's brother, refuse to acknowledge. Yet, it is this past that is deeply present in the vivid and intriguing opening sentences of the novel:

'They are not to be spoken of; they dwell in darkness!'

Laura answered swiftly:

'They dwell in this house!'

Her brother looked at her with gloomy rebuke. (Bowen 2017:loc 54)

The opening sentence by Theodosius is one that is both repressive and, at the same time, establishes the Gothic and supernatural tone of the novel. Indicating that something is not to be spoken of always raises curiosity. But it is the second part of the sentence, separated by a semicolon, that opens up an ambivalence and disquiet. Something that dwells in darkness implies something with possible evil connotations, not to be brought to light for fear of the repercussions it might have in the present. In this instance, it seems that language itself has been rendered uncanny where meaning acts as 'a kind of gap between codes, a point at which representation itself appears to fail, displace, or diffuse itself' (Sage & Smith 1996:2). Theodosius is unaware of the ambivalence of his statement; for him it is the past that cannot and should not be recovered, as it is of no importance. However, it is Laura's response that seems to place this evil and darkness firmly in the present, inside the walls of the house and a sense of dread and suspense are immediately evoked.

The argument and battle of wills between Laura and her brother concerns a set of portraits that hang side by side at the end of the long dining room in the mansion. One is of a man and one of a woman. However, it is the portrait of the woman that arouses in Laura a sense of dread and dislike and this sense of disquiet will take possession of the plot. The portrait of the woman is described as 'rather flat and drab' in its depiction of a young woman dressed in a:

[l]ong tight-waisted gown of the palest primrose colour with its bow of pale-blue-and-cream striped ribbon tucked into her narrow bosom. Her hair was either pale or powdered and gathered straight off her face. Her features were scarcely to be discerned, so lightly had the painter indicated them, but they appeared to be regular; the eyes, which had been put in with a firmer touch were large and of a clean, clear brown colour. (Bowen 2017:loc 372)

The framing of the portrait is interesting because it has a design of laurel leaves and is seen as being 'more fitting for the portrait of a warrior than of a gentle woman' (Bowen 2017:loc 388). Yet, the portrait with its washed out features and pale-coloured clothing is merely an amateurish sketch that seems to offer a commentary by Bowen on masculine agency and female self-abnegation, elision and passivity. Strangely it is the eyes of the female portrait that act as the focal point, as though she is continually watching the world outside the frame of her containment. It is this painting that Laura regards with what Mrs Sylk terms 'feelings of aversion and even horror' because it is the portrait of the original Laura Sarelle, after whom the living Laura has been named (loc 372). Laura is aware that there is some unsavoury secret concerning her ancestress, having heard tales about the 'dead woman'. The tales are vague and concern the original Laura Sarelle's early death and a scandal, during which someone had died from an overdose of a sleeping draught. The dead Laura was thought to have been implicated in this death, but was acquitted. The living Laura has requested that the paintings be removed, but Theodosius is adamant in his refusal to move the paintings because he considers that Laura 'talks a great deal of nonsense' and he will not give in to the 'whim of an undisciplined girl' (loc 405). What Theodosius implies is that her resistance to his masculine authority is excessive, irrational and has too much to do with uncontrolled feelings and the sensational.

 

Vagaries, charm and caprices: Gothic heroine and femme fatale

The Gothic heroine is often linked to the sensational and feelings, but she generally adheres to behaviour that is proper and suited to the times in which she is placed. She is beautiful, often blonde, sensitive and exhibits a passive courage as she attempts to escape from male control and the domestic ideal. In Bowen's (2017) novel, Laura is focalised by her female companion, Mrs Sylk, as 'quick, sensitive, fanciful and fantastical' as well as having a 'charming face' (loc 355; 372) and by the family lawyer as 'pretty, dainty and bright' (loc 797). Even her rakish suitor and future husband, Mr Mostyn, calls Laura a 'very charming and beautiful young lady' (loc 2531). This attractiveness of person seems to confirm Laura's position as a Gothic heroine. Theodosius is aware of her heroine-like qualities when he refers to her as a 'pretty creature! A splendid creature! A girl who had an air of breeding and nobility' (loc 2353). The use of the word 'creature' is rather odd and condescending as it seems to place Laura outside the realm of the human, and equate her with animals, the natural and the irrational. It is an expression of Theodosius's own misogyny and fear of Laura, and his response to her is generally repressive and essentialising, containing, as it does, an underlying anger and passionate dislike. Yet, Laura is quick to respond to and deny his authority and is described with 'narrowed eyes' filled with rebellion (loc 54). His reaction to this passionate and unruly behaviour is weary and patronising as he refers to her as a 'dear child' and indicates that she needs to learn the 'feminine arts' of keeping a home (loc 72; 90). However, he is also overbearing and nasty when he tells her that she speaks as if she were 'out of her senses' and that she has always been considered 'wild and wilful' (loc 90; 126), stressing that he considers her to be acting with impropriety and a lack of rationality, whilst hinting that she is a hysteric and touched with madness.

Theodosius is not the only one to remark on a strange ambivalence between Laura's charming docility and her unruly, passionate and defiant outbursts. The family lawyer, Mr Spryce, tells her that she is 'wilful' and 'rather lax' and he recalls that her father and uncle had been 'afraid of her character', that they felt was constituted of 'vagaries, fancies, and sudden caprices and staunch and constant passions' (Bowen 2017:loc 197). Yet, at the same time, the lawyer says to her that she is 'a very charming, modest, and docile young lady' and he is aware of her 'beauty', which he sees as 'fresh as a rose-leaf' (loc 858, 917). Laura is represented as beautiful and seductive, but modest and docile, as well as possessed of an oddness and instability of emotions and mind. Her future husband Harry Mostyn also sees her as a 'charming creature', 'quite enchanting with precise features', 'dark sparkling eyes' and with 'a bloom, a freshness and a vitality that was very attractive, and though she might be capricious and wilful', he feels that he will be able to 'tame' her (loc 2646). Again, Laura is seen as like a wild animal that needs to be brought under strong male control and governance. Nevertheless, Harry's interactions with Laura both please him and disconcert him as he tries to 'forget her shrewd spirit, her eccentric ways, her occasionally wild laughter' (loc 3159). In this manner, Laura's character is focalised through a masculine perspective as having something excessive about it, something perplexing that lies hidden beneath her external appearance and marks her as unpredictable and dangerous. These very different viewpoints of Laura, whilst they show her heroine-like qualities, also reveal her as exhibiting the transgressive behaviour associated with the femme fatale.3 Always a representation of female disobedience that acts in direct opposition to masculine control, the figure of the femme fatale remains alluringly desirable whilst simultaneously evoking a sense of fear or unease in men. Stevie Simkin, in her recent work, Cultural Constructions of the Femme Fatale (2014), suggests that the femme fatale is often placed into competition with the chaste domesticated woman, or the heroine (p. 6-7). Ultimately, for Simkin, the femme fatale is a 'conventionally beautiful woman who lures the male hero into dangerous situations by overpowering his will with her irresistible sexuality' (Simkin 2014:8). In Bowen's novel, Laura's dangerous manipulation and strength of will, whilst not depicted as sexualised, will lure not the hero but the anti-hero into committing a deadly act. All the male characters in Bowen's novel are seen to have a contradictory response to Laura; whilst they acknowledge her beauty and her allure, they are also very disturbed by her passionate defiance and steely willpower. The portrayal of the heroine and femme fatale as separate characters that are in competition with one another has been subverted by Bowen through her melding of these attributes into a single character, Laura. In doing this, Bowen provides Laura with a more complex persona as her external surface and inner subjectivity are problematised with the result that there is a constant division in her subjectivity, which impels the plot.

As a heroine, Laura should conform to masculine and social expectations. Her arguing with her brother about not wishing to remain at Leppard Hall, and her suggestion that she could escape the Hall and his control through her marriage, forcibly acts to destabilise Theodosius's ideas of accepted proprietaries and his perceived authoritative position. Bowen presents Laura from the brother's male perspective, one of stern and censorious contempt based on his consideration of her as an antithetical creature who is 'everything different from himself' (Bowen 2017:loc 140). Theodosius fears that his lack of physical strength will be unable to withstand Laura's resolve and her 'hidden spirit as strong as his own' which always 'in the end slightly unnerved him' (loc 155). Theodosius's thoughts about his sister establish his character as a petty, power hungry tyrant, who uses his position to control and demean his sister because he fears her Otherness, unknowability, excessiveness and possibly uncontainable passion. According to Elizabeth Bronfen (1992:181), femininity has always been consigned to a position of Otherness and, as this Other, woman has served to 'define the self, and the lack or excess that is located in the Other is an exteriorisation of the self'. Theodosius, therefore, defines his sense of self as rational by projecting onto Laura the imputed characteristics of irrational and excessive emotionalism, and in this manner sets up his authority based on an ideology of gender difference. The binary nature of Laura as good, pure and helpless is set against her dangerous, chaotic, seductive and passionate self, which is experienced by Theodosius as a threat to the security of his control over her, which now contains within it a fear of its loss. Functioning as the Other, Laura becomes the site over which tension between control and loss of power plays, rendering her as a locus of Unheimlichkeit (Bronfen 1992:182). This threat to Theodosius's control, and his experience of Laura as uncanny and dangerous, is expressed in her eyes of fury that are filled with hatred towards him (Bowen 2017:loc 2341). Initially, Laura's desire to defeat her brother and obtain freedom and a sense of agency is described in less explicit terms, when the external narrator provides the reader access to her inner thoughts:

For the young brother to whom she had spoken was her master and might easily be, she knew, her tyrant. She had to play the game that women have learned during the ages to be so skilful at, to watch her opportunity, to cajole, if need be, to deceive. (Bowen 2017:loc 54)

Laura, whilst employing this form of manipulation and game playing, still considers this behaviour to be 'slavish arts', a playing into the male social system that is base, ignoble and unworthy and to which she hates to be subservient. For Laura feminine wiles are a form of slavery, but she employs deceit and other feminine arts to obtain her objectives. These hidden aspects of Laura's character are at odds with her appearance and her role as heroine. Rather they are the characteristics of the deadly woman or femme fatale, a figure Mary Ann Doane (1991) considers to be a paradox and enigma; a figure that contains a threat that 'is not entirely legible, predictable, or manageable' (p.1). Laura's representation is one of ambivalence as it vacillates between docile charm and dangerous unpredictability with the hint that if her passion is finally unleashed it will lead to destruction and madness. Yet the power that Laura as an embodiment of a femme fatale seems to possess is of a contradictory nature and, according to Doane (1991:2), seems outside of her conscious control, thereby blurring the opposition between passivity and agency. The descriptions of Laura's physical and behavioural characteristics coincide with a subtle fragmentation of her subjectivity indicative of her not being consciously in control of her contradictory nature. For Jennifer Hedgecock (2008:295), the femme fatale in her excess is associated with death and violence, as she creates devious schemes and plots murder. In Bowen's novel it will become apparent that Laura, in true femme fatale manner, does indeed create and plot a devious, if mad, scheme to murder her brother when she becomes possessed by vengeful forces from the past. Laura's embodiment as both heroine and femme fatale, I suggest, assumes a form of psychological Gothic doubling that becomes more discernible and uncannier in the pivotal scene of the plot.

 

Paintings and doubles

This pivotal scene occurs when the novel's hero figure, Lucius Delaunay, and Theodosius are in the midst of a quarrel in the study of Leppard Hall. Lucius wishes to leave his position as steward and secretary to Theodosius and tempers are high when the door opens abruptly, and it seems as though a ghost has entered the room:

A tall, pale young woman stood in the doorway dressed in a gown of rubbed primrose silk with the palest of blue ribbons at the bosom, her hair powdered, her dark eyes shining with excitement and in her hand a spray of dark laurel. She was the exact likeness of the portrait in the dining-room, save that the faint tint of the oil painting here glowed with life in the warm though pale colourings of the girl, and the costume was bright and real in the stuff sparkle of the silk, in the glint of the bows of cracked ribbon. (Bowen 2017:loc 1177)

This sudden appearance arouses a sense of uncanny terror in Lucius and Theodosius. For Freud such an uncanny effect occurs when something familiar is unexpectedly rendered unfamiliar and there is uncertainty and doubt as to whether an apparently animate object is really alive, or whether a lifeless object is not in fact animate (Freud 2003:135). The uncanny aspect in this key scene is reliant on the device of the Gothic portrait that assumes life, or what Horner and Zlosnik (2002:170) refer to as the 'moving picture', but which I prefer to term a living portrait. This doubling of portrait and living human can be considered an uncanny effect, a form of doppelgänger, as two Lauras seem to assume life and human identity. Horner and Zlosnik (2002:170-171) explore this coming to life of a painting in relation to Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca and note that it is a classic Gothic trope with its origins in Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1765). They go on to indicate that 'the trope of the portrait which turns to flesh continues to inform Gothic writing', and it is the relationship between the painting and the living being that is dynamic and replete with uncanny qualities, particularly in the painting's relation to a mansion that contains portraits of family members (Horner & Zlosnik 2002:171). The living portrait can possess specific anxieties related to hereditary and familial identities and it is the portrait of Laura Sarelle that is indicative of something dark, mysterious and evil at the heart of Leppard Hall and the Sarelle family history. As the future husband of the living Laura Sarelle, Harry Mostyn is aware of something wrong about Leppard Hall as it seems 'full of something intangibly gloomy, sad and evil' (Bowen 2017:loc 3182). However, it is the parson associated with Leppard Hall, who considers 'the whole place' to be 'infected with the dreams of the dead' (Bowen 2017:loc 1716). Laura, too, refers to the dreams of the dead, indicating that this is when people die and go on dreaming and 'their dreams come abroad as spectres and apparitions, seize hold of the living and even enter into them' (loc 3887). Bowen's narrative seems replete with the insistent presence of the past and the portrait, with its central position in the Hall, evokes the unfamiliar in a space that should be familiar. Anne Williams in her work Art of Darkness: A Poetics of the Gothic (1995:45) indicates that it is the house that 'embodies the family history' and is a reminder that the 'word "house" has two meanings relevant to Gothic fiction - it refers both to the building itself and to the family line'. She goes on to indicate that this identification of the house with forebears and building is made in works such as Jane Eyre and Rebecca and it is very apparent in Bowen's connection of Leppard Hall to family inheritance and genealogy (p. 45).

In Bowen's novel, power, prestige and family identity have been re-assumed by the male line of the Sarelles, but it is the portrait of Laura Sarelle, and her living double, that threatens this property and the patriarchal structures in the novel. In similar manner to the narrator in du Maurier's Rebecca, Bowen shows Laura wearing the costume of her relative, the Laura Sarelle depicted in the painting. It is through means of a living portrait that Bowen mirrors and doubles female subjectivity and the anxieties both physical and mental that surround the family and the mansion. Laura's self seems to be duplicated and interchanged with that of the portrait in a 'repetition of the same facial feature' and the same name that is to be found through the 'successive generations' of the Sarelles (Freud 2003:142). This sense of uncanny replication of self and other is eerily caught in the motto borne by the Sarelle's for generations, 'We live in one another'. It is with dismal shock that Lucius Delaunay has realised that the interpretation of this could mean that 'one generation would live on in another' and that the dead Laura Sarelle might be 'haunting the living bearer of her name' (Bowen 2017:loc 1853). He is subconsciously aware of this doubling when he exclaims at Laura's appearance: 'Why, Laura, dressed up like the portrait! What a strange masquerade!' (Bowen 2017:loc 1177). The idea that Laura is playing a game of masks through her adoption of the dress of the long dead strikes fear into Theodosius and is visible in his admonishment: 'You will never go in for this kind of masquerade again, you will never indulge your foolishness so wantonly again' (Bowen 2017:loc 1213). The use of the words 'wantonly' and 'foolishness' are an indication of Theodosius's own fear of Laura's disturbing femininity, which he dichotomises as either whore or silly virgin. His excessive anger with Laura is because she is not only physically identical in appearance but, by donning the clothing of the past, is also assuming the tainted, secret history associated with the dead Laura - a past that Theodosius vehemently wishes to negate. Rank (1971) indicates that according to beliefs that surrounded the double it was thought that two offspring of the same family bearing the same name meant that 'one of them had to die' (p. 53). Freud (2003), in similar fashion to Rank, indicates that the double becomes an 'uncanny harbinger of death' (p. 142). Laura's wearing of the costume of her ancestress is seemingly one of innocence because she lacks real knowledge concerning the past. Yet, her action can be interpreted as a wilful identification with the deceased Laura that will allow for the substitution of the living Laura's self by a ghostly self from the past (Freud 2003:142). Lucius sees Laura as 'lovely in the costume of the last century' with her 'slender figure' and the 'strong purity of her fine features' and 'naturally brilliant complexion' with the 'colour and purity of a blush rose' (Bowen 2017:loc 1231; 1249). Focalised in terms of the beautiful, innocent and youthful heroine, Laura possesses what Lucius sees as 'an appeal and a power that men would do well to recognize' (loc 1249). This power and appeal carried by Laura allows her an agency that is not under the control of men, rather it provides her with the means to manipulate and control them.

Laura, like the femme fatale, seems to inhere 'closely to her body', so that it is her physicality that becomes excessive and 'overrepresented' (Doane 1991:2). This feminine masquerade remains disturbing because, though this performance seems to offer her a form of power, it is one that is not really subject to her own conscious will, and as such it leads to a blurring of the opposition between passivity and activity (Doane 1991:2). Unlike du Maurier's unnamed narrator, who is persuaded by the sinister Mrs Danvers into choosing the costume based on a painting of her husband's ancestress, Laura actively searches for something belonging to the Laura from the painting and chooses to wear it in an act of purposive self-identification with the figure in the portrait, which she both fears and loathes. As Lucius Delaunay pertinently comments, 'you found that charming gown and made yourself such a beautiful replica of the picture you will cease, perhaps, to dislike it?' (Bowen 2017:loc 1205). Laura is an exact imitation of her ancestress and this raises questions concerning the authenticity of the 'self', which is allied to the Gothic's obsession with fragmented or lost identity, but is also directly associated with surface perceptions (Horner & Zlosnik 2002:179). The excess theatricality of the garments Laura wears becomes the means for what Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1986:149) refers to as a 'contagious interchange', where the attributes of clothing are transferred to the flesh. This contagious transference of attributes from garments to the flesh, I argue, seems to reside in Laura's refashioning of herself as the portrait, which allows for an uncanny palimpsestic overwriting of qualities from the portrait onto her living body, causing her 'self' to transform into a 'ghost of the counterfeit' (Hogle 2001:299). As this ghostly counterfeit, Laura will become the vengeful tool of the past aimed at the destruction of the evils of Leppard Hall and male domination.

The painting of the original Laura is a site of liminality because as a spatial creation it is static and contained, a subject frozen in time. In Bowen's novel, this living portrait scene uncannily destabilises the opposition between the inanimate painting of the original Laura, whose presence seems to pervade Leppard Hall and its environs, and the sentient Laura who seems to become spectral. The mirror image of her dead relative, Laura elides the past and the present, the living and the dead as she observes: 'I dare say that after a while I shall feel I am in the past again and that I am the other Laura Sarelle' (Bowen 2017:loc 1195). It is this strange temporal aspect in Laura's statement that Theodosius insists upon gainsaying in his furious reaction: 'It is the present and the future that you have to live in, not the past' (loc 1213). Laura mischievously responds to this anger:

I feel that I am the other Laura Sarelle. I shall close my eyes and imagine what she was like and what she did. Perhaps her whole history will come back to me in a kind of trance or dream (Bowen 2017:loc 1231).

Laura's insistence that she is the other Laura Sarelle is deeply disturbing and uncanny because Laura does not just identify with the original Laura; she implies that she is, or wishes to be, the dead woman. This represents a total breakdown of the barriers between past and present, living and dead, good and bad women that hints at an instability and psychological splitting at work in the living Laura. According to Catherine Spooner (2004:130), the important thing about doubles is that they look alike and share the same surface features such as clothing, mannerisms and, in Laura's case, familial bonds. Spooner (2004) notes that the Gothic trope of the double is associated with either stealing identity or 'becoming trapped in an alien identity by wearing (or recreating) their clothes' (p. 130). The adoption of an alien identity by wearing a costume associated with the past is prominent in the doubling that occurs in both du Maurier's Rebecca and in Bowen's Laura Sarelle. Horner and Zlosnik (2002:178) indicate that the narrator of Rebecca is in some manner possessed by the ghost of the dead Rebecca, but, I suggest, this is a far less supernatural and destructive possession than in Bowen's novel, where Laura becomes a veritable walking, breathing and deadly ghost. Laura's animation of the portrait by dressing up in a dead woman's garments allows these surfaces from the past to invoke a supernatural metamorphosis so that a dead woman possesses the living as a sinister doppelgänger.

The unhealthy nature of this doubling is apparent in Lucius Delaunay's sense of repulsion for the living Laura, when he feels a:

spiritual nausea, a sickness that after a while became almost physical. Something was wrong in that exquisite and frail femininity he seemed to see the symbol of something that was doomed and evil. He had the impression that this was really the other Laura Sarelle, that she had returned to earth either to accomplish some desperate purpose or to avenge some desperate wrong. (Bowen 2017:loc 1249)

There is something preternatural and abject in Lucius's extreme response of nausea and a sense of evil when he looks at Laura. He, too, sees her as a spectral double of the original Laura, but this doubling is for him unhealthy, as it seems to elide the subjectivity of the living Laura, replacing it with something inherently twisted and uncongenial. This is added to by Laura's maliciousness when she goads her brother 'I gave you a shock when I came in just now, didn't I! You really thought I was a ghost' (Bowen 2017:loc 1213). In response, Theodosius violently grabs Laura's wrists and says: 'Go upstairs at once, take off all that mummery and try to live a sane and sober life', further implying that Laura is unstable and that she needs to return to her place as a sober and docile heroine, who obeys and is subject to his authority (loc 1231). Yet, as Lucius Delaunay watches this scene he is aware that Laura is 'overawed but not frightened. Physically she submitted, spiritually she defied her master' and he notes that her eyes 'flashed with a secret fury', the violence of this inner emotion seeming at odds with Laura's external acquiescence (loc 1231). Laura appears possessed by a hostile force from the past that threatens to usurp and destroy, not only her identity, but that of the future of the Sarelles.

 

Suicide, madness and fractured identity

Lucius Delaunay is more accurate than he realises when he feels that the image of the living Laura is 'really the other Laura Sarelle, that she had returned to earth either to accomplish some desperate purpose or to avenge some desperate wrong' (Bowen 2017:loc 1249). The living Laura's 'frail femininity' seems overlaid with a masculine determination, a masculine strength that threatens something dangerously violent. The blurring of the boundaries between 'the returned dead' and the living is, in Laura's doubling, indicative of the 'uncanniness of the death drive', which seems to compel Laura to attempt suicide after she learns of Lucius Delaunay's decision to leave Leppard Hall. Horner and Zlosnik (2002:177) indicate that in Rebecca, Mrs Danvers encourages the narrator to commit suicide after the fiasco of her appearance in costume so that the narrator can join Rebecca in the realm of the dead. The narrator resists and this, Horner and Zlosnik (2002:177) suggest, allows Rebecca to join the narrator in the living world and rob her of an identity. Contrary to du Maurier, in Bowen's narrative it is not a living person who suggests that Laura commit suicide, rather Laura declares 'a young girl, in every way like herself, was by her side, encouraging her to something dreadful - self-destruction' (Bowen 2017:loc 2050). Laura's act seems to be predicated on a need to escape both her 'self' and the entrapping presence of Leppard Hall, as she tries to drown herself in the river in an image that is reminiscent of the death of Shakespeare's mad Ophelia. For Rank (1971:12, 14), this type of uncanny double is 'clearly an independent and visible cleavage of the ego', and Laura seems to be possessed by a destructive delusion of a double that runs beside and pursues her. The life of this double, with the same name and physical appearance, seems to have been detached simultaneously from the painting and the living Laura and has become an individual being, one which is inextricably linked to the sentient Laura (Rank 1971:16, 19).

Laura's 'story' is dismissed by the male doctor who attributes Laura's insistence on this other figure as 'raving' and 'strong fits of delirium', thus pathologising Laura and implying she is mad (Bowen 2017:loc 2050). Elaine Showalter has suggested that madness has been attributed to women as part of their 'essential feminine nature' as opposed to male rationality (1987:3). It is this apparently scientific, if not patronising, attitude that the doctor appears to be taking towards Laura, as he confines her to the otherness of her body, thereby essentialising her as irrational and out of control. Laura's constant fluctuation of persona and mood establishes a gliding, flowing instability suggestive of an insidious destabilisation of subjectivity that will lead to calamity and final madness. The fissuring of Laura's subjectivity caused by her doubling acts as a:

figure for a split or gap, a figure signifying that something that was whole and unique has been split into more than one part, and as such a figure for fragmentation. (Bronfen 1992:114)

Laura is subconsciously aware of something wrong, of this split state, when she says to Mrs Sylk:

You know I have the sensation I have been here before and under most evil circumstances When I saw the gates at the bottom of the park I said to myself 'So I have to come back here again after all these years' 'I wonder why I'm talking like this! I'm not usually so foolish, am I, Mrs Sylk?' (Bowen 2017:loc 320, 338)

She further says, 'I'm stupid sometimes, as if I didn't know what I was doing, as if I had a kind of fit' (Bowen 2017:loc 3533). Often described as listless, reserved, shut up in herself, confused, dull or talking incoherently, 'fanciful and half bewitched', this fragmentation of Laura's subjectivity becomes more apparent after her attempted suicide (loc 3249). Her moments of lethargy increase when she is seen to walk 'very slowly with a heavy dragging step', which alternates with movements of 'great rapidity', which Mrs Sylk views with terror as 'an unnatural swiftness' (loc 2799). Laura appears to veer between 'intensity of expression' and 'sudden languor' in a fluid, almost bipolar, form of behaviour, leading to many insinuations concerning her sanity (loc 2754, 2799). She is described as 'unsettled in her wits, unbalanced in her mind, especially since her illness' and as 'wild' (loc 2992). Lucius Delaunay considers Laura might be sickly in her imagination and Mrs Sylk is 'alarmed for her state of mind' and wonders if Laura's 'wits are deranged' (loc 1475, 4613). Yet, Laura is soon shown recovering her 'calm and tranquil spirits' and giving 'no one any difficulty' (loc 4613). This vacillation between states with its implications of insanity is something that the doctor, who treats Laura, considers an 'attempt to escape' from 'some destiny that she fears' (loc 2084). A disruption exists between Laura and her double that causes her reality and sense of self to crumble, causing her inability to decide which 'self' is actually hers (Bronfen 1992:113). This produces a sense of terrible anxiety that Bowen employs to heighten the tension in the narrative. Laura Sarelle, I maintain, is founded on a rather more extreme version of the double than that which occurs within du Maurier's Rebecca. Whilst the figure of Rebecca is a malign presence in the narrative, this does not result in the same fragmentation in the unnamed narrator's sense of self as that seen in the character of Laura Sarelle. Moreover, the ghost of Rebecca does not enact revenge for the past through the possession of the narrator, unlike the double in the narrative of Laura Sarelle where the dead Laura uses the living to enact a nasty and perverse vengeance.

 

Murder by mimicry

Once the living Laura ferrets out the secret of the past and its evils, she makes her 'final desperate attempt to save herself' by re-enacting the other Laura's crime (Wagenknecht 1991:163). After secretly marrying Harry Mostyn, she slyly involves her husband in situations to provide evidence against him, and then manipulates him into murdering her brother by administering a lethal sleeping draught she has prepared of laurel water. The murder is itself a peculiar form of doubled revenge, as if the past with its secrets has returned to uncover all that was hidden, thereby uncovering all its terrors in the present. Laura's hold on reality fragments and she descends into madness and runs towards the river where she had previously attempted suicide. Harry Mostyn, in pursuit of the 'pale figure', returns in a state of befuddlement saying to Lucius 'I had to let them go - there were two of them' (Bowen 2017:loc 5448). The supernatural element of Bowen's story hinges on these final words, and it culminates in suicide, a denouement that Rank (1971) sees as 'frequently linked with pursuit by the double, the self' (p. 73). Bowen's uncanny doubling, of persona, murder and the act of self-destruction at the end of Laura Sarelle, represents a final escape attempt from both self and 'other', as well as a subversion of socially accepted behaviour. According to Bronfen (1992), an escape through suicide is 'an authorship with one's own life' poised as it is between 'self-construction and self-destruction' and it is a means to get rid of the 'oppression connected with the female body' (p. 142). The self-inflicted death of the heroine-villain and her double is required so that the world of the novel regains a sense of stability. Yet, unlike du Maurier's burning down of the family estate of Manderley in Rebecca or Bronte's similarly destroyed Thornfield Hall, the conclusion of Bowen's novel does not see Leppard Hall destroyed. The request for the Hall to be torn down, contained in the original Laura Sarelle's last will and testament, was purposefully ignored and has led to her successors finding 'themselves accursed' (Bowen 2017:loc 2602). It is only with the death of the living Laura and her double that Lucius believe 'Now they will raze it [the Hall] to the ground' (loc 5427). This is not a given and it seems that the Hall, and its uncanny malevolence and ghosts, might still survive to perpetuate further evil in the future. Bowen's story remains sinister, strange and malevolent as its play between the real and the dream that into madness and the destruction of the Sarelle lineage.

 

Conclusion

Catherine Spooner (2004:134) indicates that du Maurier's novel Rebecca 'sets the blueprint for the twentieth century novel of the female double', but I would like to suggest that this overlooks the contribution of Marjorie Bowen's Laura Sarelle to this exploration of the female double. Bowen's employment of the Gothic double enables her narrative to engage with the dark secrets of female oppression, corporeality, madness, rage, fractured selves and attempts to escape that reveal the condition of women. Gilbert and Gubar (1979) in their study The Madwoman in the Attic write that it is 'through the violence of the double that the female author enacts her own raging desire to escape male houses and texts', and they indicate that it is through the double's violence that the author articulates the destructiveness of anger repressed (p. 85). There is a lurking and repressed anger in the novel Laura Sarelle closely associated with both Laura and her dark double that might possibly represent Bowen's own impassioned response to the definitions of femininity imposed on women. However, this anger and violence in the narrative leads to the final self-destruction of the heroine and her double, undermining the normal happy ending associated with traditional Gothic fiction. In Bowen's novel, Laura is both the victim and the transgressor in her struggle to overcome, defy and gain economic, corporeal and individual freedom. The double represents both a construction of Laura's sense of self and leads to her self-destruction, allowing her to escape her incarceration, not only in space but also in the place of the body and the temporal. My aim throughout this article has been to demonstrate the importance of Bowen's innovative reimagining of the trope of the Gothic female double. Her eerie construction of Laura Sarelle as a character, I have argued, is more destructive, violent, tormented and powerful than du Maurier's Rebecca. Bowen's adroit creation of a character that is doubled in her identity, her name and her behaviour, I consider, sets Laura apart, as one of the more subversive explorations of the trope of the Gothic double. The replication of destiny and misdeed in the motto 'we live one in another' imbues the world of Bowen's story with 'the dreams of the dead that seize hold of and enter the living', causing the reader's flesh to creep with horror. Not only Bowen's stylistic elegance, but her subversive exploration and reliance on Gothic themes and tropes shows her to be a writer of discernible merit, whose work deserves more attention in studies of 20th-century Gothic literature.

 

Acknowledgements

Competing interests

The author declares that she has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced her in writing this article.

Author's contributions

A.K. is the sole author of this article.

Ethical consideration

This article followed all ethical standards for carrying out research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.

 

References

Baldick, C., 1992, The Oxford book of Gothic tales, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Bowen, M., 2006, The Bishop of hell and other stories, Wordsworth Editions, Hertfordshire.

Bowen, M., 2017, The crime of Laura Sarelle (1941) [Kindle], Hutchinson & Co., London.

Braun, H., 2012, The rise and fall of the femme fatale in British literature, 1790-1910, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Plymouth.

Bronfen, E., 1992, Over her dead body: Death, femininity and the aesthetic, Manchester University Press, Manchester.

Dijkstra, B., 1988, Idols of perversity: Fantasies of feminine evil in fin-de-siècle culture, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Doane, M.A., 1991, Femmes fatales: Feminism, film, theory, psychoanalysis, Routledge, London.

Du Maurier, D., 1938, Rebecca, Victor Gollancz, London.

Freud, S., 2003, The uncanny, transl. D. McLintock, Penguin Books, London.

Gilbert, S.M. & Gubard, S., 1979, The madwoman in the attic: The woman writer and the nineteenth-century literary imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven & London.

Grossman, J., 2009, Rethinking the femme fatale in film noire: Ready for her close-up, Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke.

Hedgecock, J., 2008, The femme fatale in Victorian literature [Kindle], Cambria Press, New York.

Hogle, J.E., 2001, 'The Gothic ghost of the counterfeit and the progress of abjection', in D. Punter (ed.), A companion to the Gothic, pp. 293-304, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford.

Horner, A. & Zlosnik, S., 2001, 'Strolling in the dark: Gothic flânerie in Duna Barnes's Nightwood', in A. Smith & J. Wallace (eds.), Gothic modernisms, pp. 78-94, Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Horner, A. & Zlosnik, S., 2002, '"Moving pictures": Family portraits, Gothic anxieties and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca', in A. Smith, D. Mason & W. Hughes (eds.), Fictions of unease: The Gothic from Otranto to the X-files, pp. 170-182, Sulis Press, Bath.

Horner, A. & Zlosnik, S., 2017, Women and the Gothic: An Edinburgh companion, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.

Long, H., 2006, 'Introduction', in M. Bowen (ed.), The Bishop of hell & other stories, pp. 7-9, Wordsworth Editions, Hertfordshire.

Menon, E.K., 2006, Evil by design: The creation and marketing of the femme fatale, University of Illinois Press, Urbana & Chicago.

Miller, K., 1985, Doubles: Studies in literary history, Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York.

Praz, M., 1966, The romantic agony (1933), Fontana, London.

Rank, O., 1971, Double: A psychoanalytic study, transl. H. Tucker Jr., University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC.

Sage, V. & Smith, A.L., 1996, Modern Gothic: A reader, Manchester University Press, Manchester.

Salmonson, J.A., 2013, 'Introduction', in J.A. Salmonson (ed.), Twilight and other supernatural romances Majorie Bowen [Kindle], pp. 100-536, Ash-Tree Press, Ashcroft, British Columbia.

Sedgwick, E.K., 1986, The coherence of Gothic conventions, Methuen, New York.

Simkin, S., 2014, Cultural constructions of the femme fatale: From Pandora's Box to Amanda Knox, Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke.

Showalter, E., 1987, The female malady. Women, madness, and English culture, 1830-1980, Virago Press, London.

Spooner, C., 2004, Fashioning Gothic bodies, Manchester University Press, Manchester.

Stott, R., 1992, The fabrication of the late Victorian femme fatale: The kiss of death, Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Tymms, R., 1949, Doubles in literary psychology, Bowes & Bowes, Cambridge.

Wagenknecht, E., 1991, Seven masters of supernatural fiction, Greenwood Press, West Port, CT.

Wallace, D. & Smith, A. (eds.), 2009, The female Gothic: New directions, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Wallace, D., 2013, Female Gothic histories: Gender, history and the Gothic, University of Wales Press, Cardiff.

Wasson, S., 2011, 'A Butcher's Shop where the meat still moved: Gothic doubles, organ harvesting and human cloning', in S. Wasson & E. Adler (eds.), Gothic science fiction 1980-2010, pp. 73-86, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool.

Williams, A., 1995, Art of darkness: A poetics of Gothic, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.

 

 

Correspondence:
Allyson Kreuiter
kreuiad@unisa.ac.za

Received: 13 Dec. 2018
Accepted: 18 Apr. 2019
Published: 29 Aug. 2019

 

 

1 .As my article will not engage with the rise of the scholarship on the female Gothic as it is outside the scope of my discussion, see the introduction to The Female Gothic: New Directions edited by Diana Wallace and Andrew Smith (2009) as well as more recent works such as Diana Wallace's Female Gothic Histories: Gender History and the Gothic (2013) and Women and the Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion edited by Horner and Zlosnik (2017) amongst others.
2 .Edward Wagenknecht writes that the early novels by Bowen, under the pseudonym Joseph Shearing, were 'all reconstructions and attempted solutions of old crimes' and that Laura Sarelle is based on the 1781 execution of Captain John Donellan for the murder of his brother-in-law Sir Theodosius Edward Allesley Boughton with laurel water (1991:161).
3 .There has been a lot written on the femme fatale, particularly in her portrayal in film: see Braun (2012); Dijkstra (1988); Grossman (2009); Menon (2006); Praz (1996) and Stott (1992) amongst others.

^rND^1A01^nYanga L.P.^sMajola^rND^1A01^nThabo^sDitsele^rND^1A01^nMadoda^sCekiso^rND^1A01^nYanga L.P.^sMajola^rND^1A01^nThabo^sDitsele^rND^1A01^nMadoda^sCekiso^rND^1A01^nYanga L. P^sMajola^rND^1A01^nThabo^sDitsele^rND^1A01^nMadoda^sCekiso

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

 

Learners' attitudes towards the recognition and development of isiBhaca in the education space in Umzimkhulu, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

 

 

Yanga L.P. Majola; Thabo Ditsele; Madoda Cekiso

Department of Applied Languages, Tshwane University of Technology, Soshanguve South Campus, Pretoria, South Africa

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

Attitudes towards varieties of a language have been an issue in educational contexts. For example, it is generally said that societies have a positive attitude towards the standard variety and a negative attitude towards the non-standard varieties of a language. The attitudes towards language varieties can affect their use in education and can have an impact on learners' learning and achievement. In some contexts, learners hold a view that dialect-speaking learners have lower academic potential than learners speaking the standard dialect. The learners' attitudes have significant implications for the use of dialects in the classroom as it can determine the value and emphasis given to the dialect in education. Therefore, this article establishes the attitudes held by learners towards the recognition and development of isiBhaca in the education space in Umzimkhulu. Using mixed methods, the study followed a survey research design. Data were gathered from 128 purposively selected learners from Grades 6 and 7 at six schools in Umzimkhulu. Mean scores about the belief statements were calculated in order to analyse the quantitative data, whereas the qualitative data were analysed thematically. The study found that learners held positive attitudes towards the recognition and development of isiBhaca in the education space, although they were unsure as to whether this recognition should extend to the language being given official status in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, where it has a significant number of home language speakers.

Keywords: Language attitudes; non-official language; isiBhaca; education; KwaZulu-Natal.


 

 

Introduction

Foley (2001) argues that despite the fact that the South African Constitution (Act No. 108 of 1996) guarantees learners the right to receive education in the language of their choice, there are some very real difficulties involved in the implementation of the new national language policy in South Africa. This challenging situation is made worse by the fact that there are variations within languages. Therefore, Tegegne (2015) argues that linguistic diversity is not only limited to multilingualism, but there are also variations within the same language. These variations are also called dialects, which are defined as sub-classes or varieties within a language. In addition, Tegegne (2015) is of the view that attitudes towards varieties of a language have been an issue in educational contexts. For example, it is generally said that societies hold a positive attitude towards the standard variety and a negative attitude towards the non-standard varieties (Tegegne 2015).

Babich (1987) points out that the important feature that unites dialects within a general language group is that while speakers of different dialects somewhat differ from one another, they can still understand each other. The findings of the study conducted by Cheshire (2005) revealed that the varieties of a language play an important role in educational context and, as such, in this connection, learning is claimed to be better and more successful when conducted in the variety spoken by students. Tegegne (2015) supports this idea when he claims that the use of a variety of language preferred by students in education enables students to use their own potential and helps them achieve deep learning. It is against this background that the current study focuses on the learners' attitudes towards the recognition and development of isiBhaca as a medium of instruction (MOI) in the education space in Umzimkhulu, KwaZulu-Natal. The current study is conceived against the background that the non-standard language learners bring to school from their environment is absolutely not accommodated; instead, the standard language is strongly favoured and serves as a MOI. In such cases, the learner is faced with two different situations in school with standard language and society with a non-standardised dialect (Gxilishe 1996).

People who identify themselves as members of the following tribes - Xhosa, Thembu, Xesibe, Ntlangwini, Gcaleka, Bomvana, Mpondomise, Mpondo, Hlubi, Cele, and Bhaca - are all classified as amaXhosa and are presumed to be home language (HL) speakers of isiXhosa, which has official status in South Africa. In Umzimkhulu, isiXhosa and/or isiZulu are taught to HL speakers of isiBhaca. While the two languages are mutually intelligible with isiBhaca, HL speakers of isiBhaca do not ordinarily speak isiXhosa and/or isiZulu at home or when they socialise among themselves. For example, the dialect of isiBhaca differs from standard isiXhosa in terms of vocabulary; for instance, in isiXhosa, 'African beer' is called utywala, while in isiBhaca, it is ijiki; 'to run' in isiXhosa is ukubaleka, while in isiBhaca, it is ukugijima.

The role of dialect in education has been the focus of research by local scholars, Mtsatse and Combrinck (2018); Maqam (2015); Spofana (2011); Sigcau (1998); Gxilishe (1996) and Nomlomo (1993). Specifically, debates over how to teach learners who primarily speak a non-standard dialect, like isiBhaca, came to the forefront of educational concerns. The most advanced among the arguments is that although it is important to educate learners in a standard dialect, the schooling system should not ignore the language skills and dialects that learners possess when entering the classroom, as learners understand the world through their dialect (Kramer 2004). While several studies focus on the dilemma of dialect in the classroom (Gxilishe 1996; Nomlomo 1993), only a few studies, such as by Spofana (2011), focus on the attitudes of learners towards recognition of their dialect in the classroom. Moreover, Mtsatse and Combrinck (2018) declare that literature on the influence of dialect use in the classroom in the South African context is limited to mostly postgraduate studies. Therefore, there is a great need for the current study in order to understand learners' attitudes towards the recognition and development of isiBhaca in the education space. Having this information is likely to empower teachers on how to use learners' non-standard dialect as a bridge to standard language and also to promote learners' self-image and sense of belonging.

 

Research questions

This study sought to establish learners' attitudes towards the recognition and development of isiBhaca for learning purposes in Umzimkhulu. To achieve the study's objectives, we will seek to establish the following:

  • Whether learners hold positive or negative attitudes towards the introduction of isiBhaca in their education.

  • Whether learners believe that the introduction of isiBhaca in their education would be beneficial or detrimental to their education, as opposed to the retention of isiXhosa and isiZulu in their education.

  • Whether they are conscious about language rights as they pertain to isiBhaca being recognised and developed for the purposes of learning.

 

Literature review

Language as an identity

Identity is about how individuals or groups see and define themselves and how other individuals or groups see and define them (Dumitraskovic 2014). Dumitraskovic (2014) further points out that identity is formed through the socialisation process and the influence of social institutions, such as the family, the education system and mass media.

Research has shown that learners' first language is the optimal language for literacy and learning throughout primary school (Ball 2014; UNESCO 2008). In addition, Cummins (2000) claims that learners often have a sense of identity and agency when their mother tongue is valued and used in school as MOI. Ball (2010:13) defines MOI as the language which is used for instruction in or out of school to teach the basic curriculum of the educational system. While many studies advocate for the use of the child's mother tongue as a MOI (Butzkamm 2003; Malone 2007), there has been a considerable controversy regarding the use of dialect in the classroom (Gxilishe 1996).

Standard language and dialect

Sailzmann (2007) defines the standard dialect as a prestigious, codified variety that has the highest social status and is used in formal occasions. On the other hand, Cook (2003) defines the non-standard dialect as any variety of language that is not standardised and lacks prestige. In addition, Downes (1998) points out that sometimes the standard variety is considered as a language, whereas the non-standard variety is considered as a dialect. Adding to the hegemony of the standard language over dialect, Dunstan (2015) states that the standard language is typically based on the dominant class's values. Lippi-Green (2012) argues that as language and identity are inextricably tied, to reject a person's language is to reject that person and their culture. Moreover, Dunstan (2015) argues that while educators attempt to recognise and promote awareness of diversity of race, gender, ethnicity, nationality and religion in the classroom, diversity of language is often not seen as a type of diversity for scholars and educators to learn about and celebrate, but as an issue that requires homogenisation and standardisation. Papapavlou and Pavlou (2007) declare that linguists know that the designation of a linguistic code as a language or dialect is usually based on socio-historical and political criteria rather than on purely linguistic ones. These authors are of the view that even if local dialects do not directly fall under the category of regional and minority languages, they should be treated with the same respect that is bestowed to standard or official languages.

Using dialect in the classroom

Dumitraskovic (2014) points out that although several countries in Europe have successfully dealt with the use of dialects in education, in other countries such matters are yet to be adequately addressed and effectively resolved. Papapavlou and Pavlou (2007) argue that it is common practice in bi-dialectal speech communities that standard dialects are strongly favoured in education, whereas the role of the non-standard dialects in education is highly disputed. According to Papapavlou and Pavlou (2007), this is due to the fact that some educators are still debating whether dialects should be used in education because, among other concerns, they erroneously question the adequacy of dialects in meeting speakers' communicative needs. The use of dialects in the classroom has been recommended by some scholars, such as Papapavlou and Pavlou (2007), who argue that the potential use of non-standard dialects in education could contribute to the elevation of the status of non-standard dialects in a speech community and prevent their decay and possible extinction. On the other hand, Gxilishe (1996) is of the view that the issue of whether or not to use pupils' non-standard variety in the classroom is controversial. As the South African Language in Education Policy (Republic of South Africa 1996) recommends multilingualism, Gxilishe (1996) views the situation as a fertile ground for the introduction of dialects in the classrooms. Gxilishe (1996) states that there are two arguments for the use of dialect in the classroom. Gxilishe (1996) declares that on the one hand dialects may be useful as a bridge to standard language and on the other hand their initial use could be beneficial in promoting the child's self-image and sense of belonging. Supporting the use of dialects in the classroom, Tegegne (2015) points out that the use of learners' native dialect in education enhances the social, cognitive, emotional and linguistic development of learners in and out of school. Therefore, it is appropriate that learners are educated through their dialect.

Language attitudes

Perloff (1993:26) suggests that one should first deal with the concept of attitude before moving on to language attitudes. Garrett, Coupland and Williams (2003:03) point out that an 'attitude' is constituted of three parts; it is structured in a cognitive, affective and behavioural manner. Attitudes are cognitive because they contain or comprise beliefs about the world; they are affective because they involve feelings about an object; and they are systematically linked to behaviour because they predispose us to act in a certain way. Therefore, language attitudes can be defined as negative or positive feelings towards a particular language and the behaviour the speakers of a particular language have towards that language. Particular cultural groups have a major role in attitudes people may have towards a particular language, and also the particular stereotypes speakers of the language have towards it may be resulting in negative language attitudes (Giles & Johnson 2006:38). Ajzen (1988:4) points out that language attitudes may be defined as emotional attitudes, and would be the nature and manner which people use to respond favourably or unfavourably to a particular object, human being or event. According to Tegegne (2015), the attitudes towards language varieties can affect their use in education and can have an impact on students' learning and achievement.

 

Methodology

This research employed an explanatory mixed-method approach, that is, quantitative data were analysed first, followed by qualitative data. Johnson and Turner (2003) state that the combined use of qualitative and quantitative approaches complements both and paints a clearer picture of the research problem. The study used a survey research design. McMillan and Schumacher (2010:22) state that in a survey research design, the investigator selects a sample of subjects and administers a questionnaire or conducts interviews to collect data. They further point out that surveys are used to describe attitudes, beliefs, opinions and other types of information.

The study sample comprised 128 respondents who were purposively selected from Grades 6 and 7 at schools identified as ideal for the study. Creswell and Plano Clark (2011) are of the view that 'purposive sampling' involves identifying and selecting individuals or groups of individuals that are especially knowledgeable about or experienced with a phenomenon of interest. Apart from knowledge and experience, Bernard (2002) highlights the importance of availability and willingness to participate and the ability to communicate experiences and opinions in an articulate, expressive and reflective manner.

Self-developed closed- and open-ended questions were used to gather data from the respondents. With regard to closed-ended questions, 12 Likert-type scale statements were put before the respondents and they were asked to mark the option which best suited them from the following five options: (1) strongly disagree or SD; (2) disagree or D; (3) not sure or NS; (4) agree or A; and (5) strongly agree or SA. To determine their 'aggregate attitudinal tendencies' using 'mean scores', the scales which appear in Table 1 were used.

 

 

We deemed 'mean scores' and not a deeper statistical analysis (e.g. standard deviation) to be adequate for reaching conclusions on 'aggregate attitudinal tendencies' because more emphasis was placed on qualitative data as opposed to quantitative data.

Ethical clearance was obtained. Before the data-gathering phase, learners' parents and guardians signed informed consent forms while learners assented. All the respondents (as well as parents and guardians) were guaranteed that codes would be used to ensure that their identities were protected.

Ethical consideration

Ethical clearance was issued by Tshwane University of Technology's Research Ethics Committee on 19 March 2016, with ethical clearance number FCRE/APL/STD/2016/03.

 

Findings and discussions

IsiBhaca was spoken by an overwhelming majority of the respondents (79.7%) and that rendered 'home language' as an unusable variable because the other two languages, isiXhosa and isiZulu, comparatively had too low percentages. That left 'sex', 'age' and 'school' as the three variables that were used for data analysis.

Quantitative data

To achieve the study's objectives, 12 Likert-type scale belief statements, which were put before 128 learners, were split into the following three categories: (1) Using isiBhaca in the education space; (2) Recognising and developing isiBhaca; and (3) Matching isiBhaca against isiXhosa and isiZulu. For each category, 'mean scores' and 'aggregate attitudinal tendencies' were presented in tables, followed by an analysis of individual belief statements, and lastly, a summary of each category.

Category 1: Using isiBhaca in the education space

Belief statements 5, 6, 8 and 11 belong to this category and are presented in Table 2.

Belief statement 5: isiBhaca is only relevant for discussing matters such as lobola negotiations and not for educational purposes.

This belief statement scored a 'mean' of 2.20, which means that the respondents disagreed with it. Put differently, they believed that isiBhaca could be developed for educational purposes.

Both male (mean = 2.38) and female (mean = 2.05) respondents disagreed with the belief statement. The oldest respondents (14 years old) recorded a 'mean score' of 1.20, thus strongly disagreed with the belief statement, while the other two groups disagreed with it (13 year old = 2.13 and 12 years old = 2.28).

Belief statement 6: Learners in Umzimkhulu perform poorly in school because they are taught in isiXhosa or isiZulu, and not in isiBhaca.

In this belief statement, the respondents recorded a 'mean score' of 3.96. This indicates that they agreed with the belief statement. The respondents may be having a few challenges with understanding content through isiXhosa and that would explain why they believed isiBhaca could help improve school performance.

Female (mean = 4.08) and male (mean = 3.75) respondents agreed with the belief statement. The oldest group (14 years old) with a 'mean score' of 5.00 strongly agreed with the belief statement, while the other two groups agreed with it (13 year old = 3.92 and 12 years old = 3.82).

Belief statement 8: The pass rate at school would improve if learners in Umzimkhulu were taught in isiBhaca.

The respondents' 'mean score' was 3.98 in this belief statement, which indicates that they agreed with it. The finding is consistent with the one in Belief statement 6 in which the respondents believed that being taught through an HL (isiBhaca) would improve learners' performance in school.

There was an insignificant difference between female (mean = 4.14) and male (mean = 3.52) respondents, as both recorded 'mean scores' which showed that they agreed with the belief statement. The oldest group (14 years old) with a 'mean score' of 4.75 strongly agreed with the belief statement, while the youngest group (12 years old) with a 'mean score' of 3.98 and the middle group (13 years old) with a 'mean score' of 3.86 agreed with it.

Belief statement 11: Language rights of learners in Umzimkhulu are violated if they continue to be taught in isiXhosa or isiZulu and not in isiBhaca.

The purpose of this belief statement was to find out whether the respondents felt that their rights as learners in Umzimkhulu were violated, as they were taught in isiXhosa instead of isiBhaca. A 'mean score' of 4.13 indicated that they agreed with the belief statement. The reason why they felt this could be found in the fact that South Africa is a multilingual country whose Constitution guarantees language rights to every person. The respondents may have been aware of this fact; hence their belief that their language rights were violated.

Female (mean = 4.14) and male (mean = 4.07) respondents agreed with the belief statement. The oldest group (14 years old) with a 'mean score' of 4.50 was the only one which strongly agreed with the belief statement. The other two groups agreed with it (12 year old = 4.21 and 13 years old = 4.04).

Summary of Category 1: Using isiBhaca in the education space

From the four belief statements under this category, it is concluded that the respondents believed that isiBhaca was relevant beyond being used for cultural and traditional events, and that being taught in this language would see learners in Umzimkhulu improve their school performance. Their favourable attitudes towards isiBhaca were also reflected in their belief that not being taught through isiBhaca violated their constitutional right of being taught in their HL. There was an 'aggregate attitudinal tendency' of 3.57 for the category, which suggests that the respondents agreed with the notion of 'using isiBhaca for educational purposes'. An analysis of the 'mean score' illustrates that the two variables (viz. 'sex' and 'age') influenced the respondents' levels of agreement albeit to varying levels as far as Category 1 is concerned.

Category 2: Recognising and developing isiBhaca

As Table 3 shows, Belief statements 4, 7, 10 and 12 belong to this category.

Belief statement 4: isiBhaca should not be given official recognition because the people of Umzimkhulu use very few words that are different from those used in isiZulu or isiXhosa.

This belief statement sought to find out whether the respondents felt that isiBhaca should not be given official status in areas where it was spoken. With a 'mean score' of 2.77, the respondents indicated that that they were not sure whether isiBhaca should be officially recognised or not.

There was an insignificant difference between male (mean = 2.98) and female (mean = 2.60) respondents, as both recorded 'mean scores' that showed they were not sure about the belief statement. The oldest respondents (14 years old) recorded a 'mean score' of 1.25, thus strongly disagreed with the belief statement, while the other two groups were not sure about it (13 year old = 3.05 and 12 years old = 2.54).

Belief statement 7: Even if isiBhaca is related to isiXhosa or isiZulu, it should be developed as a separate language.

In this belief statement, the respondents scored a 'mean' of 3.90, which indicates that they agreed with the suggestion that isiBhaca should be developed as a separate language, away from isiXhosa and isiZulu. A possible reason for being open to the idea of isiBhaca being developed as a separate language is that anecdotal evidence suggests that the isiBhaca people take pride in their culture and language, even if it is non-standard and has no official recognition. At the moment, they currently find themselves being forced to study through isiXhosa and reading the material written in isiXhosa and isiZulu because they are developed languages and enjoy official status in South Africa.

Female (mean = 3.98) and male (mean = 3.78) respondents agreed with the belief statement. The youngest group (12 years old) and the middle group (13 years old) with 'mean scores' of 3.66 and 3.94, respectively, agreed with the belief statement, while the oldest group (14 years old) strongly agreed with it with a 'mean score' of 4.50.

Belief statement 10: Developing study material in isiBhaca will be a waste of government resources.

In this belief statement, the aim was to establish whether the respondents thought that it would be a waste of time if government developed isiBhaca and provided study material in the language. A 'mean score' of 2.25 was recorded, which means that the respondents disagreed with the belief statement. Put differently, they believed that learners in Umzimkhulu would benefit from accessing study material in isiBhaca.

The spirit of the Constitution of South Africa is that of encouraging people to use their HLs where it is practical. This possibly explains why the respondents supported the idea to have academic resources being made available in isiBhaca, a move that would see it being developed. While this belief statement can also be classified under Category 1, the researchers felt that it should be discussed under Category 2 because it is primarily about 'language development' as opposed to 'language in education' (a secondary consideration).

Both male (mean = 2.43) and female (mean = 2.15) respondents disagreed with the belief statement. The oldest group (14 years old) with a 'mean score' of 1.25 strongly disagreed with the belief statement, while the other two groups disagreed with it (13 year old = 2.32 and 12 years old = 2.22).

Belief statement 12: isiBhaca should not be developed for use in any form of schooling (e.g. primary school, high school or university).

In this belief statement, the aim was to determine whether the respondents felt that isiBhaca should not be developed for use in any form of schooling. A 'mean score' of 2.21 was recorded, which implies that respondents disagreed with the idea of not introducing isiBhaca for the purposes of teaching and learning. In other words, they were of the opinion that isiBhaca should be developed for use in the education environment.

A possible reason for this stance is that even if isiXhosa is mutually intelligible with isiBhaca, the respondents may be of a belief that the ideal language to be used for educational purposes is a people's HL (isiBhaca in this case) and not an L2 (isiXhosa in this case). Just like in Belief statement 10, this belief statement can also be classified under Category 1. Likewise, the researchers felt that it should be discussed under Category 2, because it is primarily about 'language development' as opposed to 'language in education' (a secondary consideration).

There was a negligible difference between female (mean = 2.23) and male (mean = 2.15) respondents as both recorded 'mean scores' which showed that they disagreed with the belief statement. The middle group (13 years old) and the youngest group (12 years old) with 'mean scores' of 2.31 and 2.17, respectively, disagreed with the belief statement, while the oldest group (14 years old) strongly agreed with it, with a 'mean score' of 1.25.

Summary of Category 2: Recognising and developing isiBhaca

From the four belief statements under this category, it is concluded that the respondents were of the view that isiBhaca should be developed for educational purposes and also as a separate language from isiXhosa and isiZulu, a move that would be beneficial to its L1 speakers, particularly learners. Nevertheless, they were not sure if this development should extend to isiBhaca being given official status, a stance which is reflected in an 'aggregate attitudinal tendency' of 2.78, which suggests that, overall, the respondents were uncertain when it comes to the 'recognition and development of isiBhaca. As far as Category 2 is concerned, an analysis of 'mean scores' illustrates that the two variables (viz. 'sex' and 'age') influenced the respondents' levels of agreement albeit to varying levels.

Category 3: Matching isiBhaca against isiXhosa and isiZulu

Belief statements 1, 2, 3 and 9 belong to this category and presented in Table 4.

Belief statement 1: The manner in which the people of Umzimkhulu speak is influenced by the area being in KwaZulu-Natal and close to the Eastern Cape.

An aggregate mean score of 4.48 shows that the respondents agreed that Umzimkhulu's location in KwaZulu-Natal and its close proximity to the Eastern Cape influenced how the people of this area spoke. This finding comes as no surprise because many people of Umzimkhulu speak isiBhaca - a non-standard variety which is mutually intelligible with both isiXhosa and isiZulu.

Female respondents recorded a higher 'mean score' of 4.57, which means that they strongly agreed with the belief statement, while male respondents (mean = 4.35) agreed with it. The 'mean score' of the older group (14 years old) was 4.75, followed by the younger group (12 years old) at 4.52, and then the middle group (13 years old) at 4.43. 'Age', in this regard, influenced the respondents' levels of agreement; the 'oldest group' strongly agreed, the 'youngest group' also strongly agreed, while the 'middle group' just agreed.

Belief statement 2: There is a big difference between isiBhaca and isiXhosa or isiZulu.

This belief statement sought to establish whether the respondents believed that there was a big difference between isiXhosa or isiZulu and isiBhaca. With a mean score of 2.50, this means that respondents were not sure about the belief statement. This finding is informed by the fact that when one compares isiBhaca with isiXhosa and isiZulu, it is found that the differences are not about lexical items, but how such lexical items are pronounced. That said, there are a few lexical items, which are different between isiBhaca and the two standard varieties.

Of the three 'ages', the youngest group (12 years old), with a 'mean score' of 2.47, was the only group that disagreed with the belief statement; the other two groups were not sure about it.

Belief statement 3: isiBhaca is close to isiXhosa, but not to isiZulu.

This belief statement was asked to find out if the respondents believed whether isiBhaca was more closely related to isiXhosa than it was to isiZulu. The mean score of 2.51 was scored and it indicates that they were not sure about it. This uncertainty in deciding the linguistic distance between isiBhaca and the other two languages lies in the fact that they were taught isiXhosa at school while residing in Umzimkhulu, which is located in KwaZulu-Natal, a province whose dominant language is isiZulu.

Male respondents scored a 'mean score' of 2.73, while female respondents scored a 'mean score' of 2.40, which means that the former were not sure about the belief statement, while the latter disagreed with it. With a 'mean score' of 1.79, the middle group (13 years old) was the only one which disagreed with the belief statement; the other two groups (12 years old at 2.88 and 14 years old at 2.75) were not sure about it.

Belief statement 9: isiBhaca is close to isiZulu, but not to isiXhosa.

A mean score of 2.82 indicates that the respondents were not sure as to whether isiBhaca was closer to isiZulu than it was to isiXhosa. As with Belief statement 3, the presence of both isiXhosa and isiZulu in their surroundings made it difficult for them to lean towards either of the two standard varieties.

There was a negligible difference between female (mean = 2.88) and male (mean = 2.77) respondents as both recorded 'mean scores' which showed that they were not sure about the belief statement. The oldest group (14 years old) with a 'mean score' of 1.75 disagreed with the belief statement, while the other two groups were not sure about it (13 year old = 3.25 and 12 years old = 2.75).

Summary of Category 3: Matching isiBhaca against isiXhosa and isiZulu

With an 'aggregate attitudinal tendency' of 3.08 for the category, a conclusion could be reached that the respondents were not sure as to which between isiXhosa and isiZulu was linguistically closer to isiBhaca. An analysis of the mean score shows that the two variables (viz. 'sex' and 'age') influenced the respondents' level of agreement albeit to varying levels, as far as Category 3 is concerned.

Qualitative data

Eight questions were put to 128 learners who were asked to answer YES or NO first, followed by a 'motivation' for their choice of answer. Answers to the eight questions were also split into the three categories presented in the section above. In analysing the data, we used percentages to illustrate the frequencies of the respondents' answers, followed by prominent reasons they provided as motivation for the reasons they advanced. It is also important to note that their motivations were grouped for the purposes of coherence.

Category 1: Using isiBhaca in the education space

Questions 1, 2, 6 and 7 belong to this category and they are discussed below.

Question 1: Do you think that learners in Umzimkhulu do not perform well because they are taught in isiXhosa or isiZulu instead of in isiBhaca? An overwhelming majority of the respondents (75%) thought that learners in Umzimkhulu did not perform well because they were not taught in isiBhaca, but isiXhosa or isiZulu. The most common reason they gave was that 'isiBhaca is a language we speak at home, thus would understand school work far much better in it'. The second most common reason they gave was that 'isiXhosa is not the best language we express ourselves in, thus we struggle a bit to understand school work'.

A minority of them (25%) did not believe that learning through isiXhosa or isiZulu affected Umzimkhulu's learners. The most common reason they presented was 'we are used to isiXhosa because our education is given through the language when we start school'.

Question 2: Do you think that results of learners in schools in Umzimkhulu would improve if learners were taught in isiBhaca? An overwhelming majority of the respondents (86.7%) believed that learners' results in Umzimkhulu would improve were they to be taught in isiBhaca. The most common reason they provided was the one they gave in Question 1, that is, isiBhaca was a language they speak at home, thus would understand school work much better in it.

Likewise, a minority of them (13.3%), who believed that results would not improve were they to be taught in isiBhaca, also provided the most common reason that they started school being taught in isiXhosa, thus they were used to this language.

Question 6: Do you think that adults in your family would encourage you to study isiBhaca should it be taught at your school? A majority of the respondents (67.2%) believed that adults in their families would encourage them to study isiBhaca were this language to be taught at their school. Being L1 speakers of isiBhaca was the main reason given by many of them. A few others stated that adults in their families knew that they did not speak isiXhosa and isiZulu well, thus would be in favour of learners in Umzimkhulu being taught in isiBhaca.

A minority of the respondents (32.8%) were of the view that adults in their families would not encourage them to study isiBhaca if it were taught at their school. Many of these respondents came from families where isiXhosa and isiZulu were spoken as HLs, thus were not open to the status quo being challenged. In addition, they stated that adults in their families held negative attitudes towards isiBhaca.

Question 7: Should your school introduce isiBhaca next year, would you advise learners in Umzimkhulu to continue to study isiXhosa or isiZulu? Around a quarter of the respondents (25.8%) stated that they would advise learners in Umzimkhulu to continue to study in isiXhosa and isiZulu even if their school introduced isiBhaca the following year. The most prominent reason they provided was that the status quo should be maintained because learners were already used to being taught in isiXhosa and isiZulu, thus replacing them with isiBhaca would create confusion. The less prominent reason was that they did not like isiBhaca.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents (73.2%) stated that they would discourage learners in Umzimkhulu to continue to study in isiXhosa and isiZulu if isiBhaca were to be introduced at their school the following year. The most prominent reason they gave was that it was only fair and logical to introduce isiBhaca in the education space because most families spoke the language at home, as opposed to isiXhosa and isiZulu. The less prominent reason they mentioned was that the introduction of isiBhaca at their school would stop the violation of their constitutional right to be taught their HL at school.

Summary of Category 1: Using isiBhaca in the education space

From the four questions presented above under this category, a conclusion could be reached that an overwhelming majority of the respondents believed that there would be enormous benefits for using isiBhaca in the education space in Umzimkhulu. This finding is consistent with ones made in Belief statements 6, 8 and 11.

Category 2: Recognising and developing isiBhaca

The discussion below focuses on Questions 3 and 4, which belong to this category.

Question 3: Do you think that government should develop study material in isiBhaca so that isiBhaca speakers can use it in school? An overwhelming majority of the respondents (78.9%) were of the view that government should develop study material in isiBhaca for use at schools where there are HL speakers of the language. One of the prominent reasons they provided was that such a move would allow HL speakers to enjoy the constitutional right of learning in their language at school, like many other people whose HLs were accessible at school.

A minority of them (21.1%) thought that it would not be a great idea to develop study material in isiBhaca for use at school. One of the prominent reasons they submitted was that it was too late in the day to go this route because over many years, learners in Umzimkhulu had been taught isiXhosa and government had already invested a lot of money in the development of this language.

Question 4: Do you think that isiBhaca should be officially recognised in areas where many people speak it, for example, in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape? An overwhelming majority of the respondents (84.4%) thought that isiBhaca should be officially recognised in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, where the language was spoken by many people. Many respondents submitted that the language's official recognition in the two provinces would be a step in the right direction, one which has the potential to it being introduced at schools. A few others reiterated the notion of 'language rights' enshrined in the Constitution; they stressed that continuing to ignore that isiBhaca is a people's language violates its speakers' constitutional rights.

A small minority of the respondents (15.6%) were opposed to the idea. Some of them noted that the percentage of HL speakers of isiBhaca was so low in the two provinces that it would not make sense to grant it official status.

Summary of Category 2: Recognising and developing isiBhaca

Responses to Questions 3 and 4 suggest that the respondents overwhelmingly supported the recognition and development of isiBhaca, while a small minority of respondents were not supportive of the idea. There is consistency between Belief statement 10 and Question 3. In Belief statement 10, the respondents disagreed that developing study material in isiBhaca will be a waste of government resources, while in Question 3, they overwhelmingly (78.9%) thought that government should develop study material in isiBhaca so that isiBhaca speakers can use it at schools. This consistency can be extended to Belief statement 12, where the respondents disagreed with the suggestion that isiBhaca should not be developed for use in any form of schooling (e.g. primary school, high school or university). Put differently, they supported the idea to develop the language for use at all levels of formal education, that is, from primary school up to university.

There is a discrepancy between their response to Belief statement 4 and Question 4 on whether isiBhaca should be granted official status or not. A major difference between the two lies in being general as opposed to being specific. In Belief statement 4, the respondents were not sure on whether isiBhaca should be granted official status, perhaps because the belief statement was general, thus they may have thought about 'official status' at a national level. However, Question 4 specifically focused on the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape and their responses were overwhelming (84.4%) that isiBhaca should be granted official status.

Category 3: Matching isiBhaca against isiXhosa and isiZulu

Questions 5 and 8 belong to this category and they are discussed below.

Question 5: Do you think that there is a difference between isiBhaca and isiZulu? An overwhelming majority of the respondents (95.3%) were of the view that there were differences between isiBhaca and isiZulu, which upon inspection were at the morphological and phonological levels. They submitted some differences that are provided in Table 5.

 

 

A small minority of the respondents (4.7%) thought that there were no differences between isiBhaca and isiZulu.

Question 8: Do you think that there is a difference between isiBhaca and isiXhosa? An overwhelming majority of the respondents (94.5%) noted that there were differences between isiBhaca and isiXhosa, which under scrutiny were at the lexical, morphological and phonological levels. In fact, some of them noted that the manner in which they pronounced words in the two languages was not the same. They submitted some differences that are provided in Table 6.

 

 

A small minority of the respondents (5.5%) held a view that there were no differences between isiBhaca and isiXhosa.

Summary of Category 3: Matching isiBhaca against isiXhosa and isiZulu

The respondents recorded very high percentages (viz. more than 94% for Questions 5 and 8) in arguing that there were differences between isiBhaca and isiZulu, and isiBhaca and isiXhosa. They also provided examples of such differences as illustrated in Tables 5 and 6. They provided far more examples of the differences between isiBhaca and isiXhosa as opposed to the differences between isiBhaca and isiZulu because all of them studied isiXhosa at school.

In comparing these findings made in Belief statements 3 and 9 against Questions 5 and 8, one notices that in the belief statements, the respondents were not sure as to whether isiBhaca was closer to isiXhosa compared to isiZulu and vice versa. One may think that there are contradictions between the two belief statements when contrasted with the two questions. However, they do not contradict each other, because in the belief statements, the respondents were asked to gauge as to which between isiXhosa and isiZulu was closer to isiBhaca than the other, and they indicated that they were not sure. In other words, they were asked to directly match isiXhosa against isiZulu relative to isiBhaca. One respondent made this interesting remark and stated that when they are with Zulus, they say that he or she is Xhosa, but when they are with Xhosas, they say he or she is Zulu.

When it comes to Questions 5 and 8, the respondents were not asked to match isiXhosa against isiZulu, but to focus on each language at a time, as it relates to isiBhaca. That fundamental difference saw them being unequivocal that there were lexical, morphological and phonological differences between isiBhaca and isiZulu, as well as between isiBhaca and isiXhosa.

 

Conclusion

As indicated in the study's introduction, we sought to establish learners' attitudes towards the recognition and development of isiBhaca in the education space in Umzimkhulu. Having analysed and discussed the study's quantitative and qualitative data, we now provide answers to our research questions.

Firstly, we sought to establish whether learners held positive or negative attitudes towards the introduction of isiBhaca in their education; our conclusion is that they held positive attitudes towards isiBhaca. Secondly, we sought to establish whether they believed that the introduction of isiBhaca in their education would be beneficial or detrimental to the same, as opposed to the retention of isiXhosa and isiZulu in their education; we conclude that they believed that the introduction of isiBhaca would be beneficial to their education. Thirdly, we sought to establish whether they were conscious about language rights as they pertain to isiBhaca being recognised and developed for the purposes of learning; our conclusion is that they were conscious about language rights and held views that HL speakers of isiBhaca were denied such rights.

Beyond these conclusions, it is worthwhile to note minority views. The study comprised 20.3% of the respondents whose HLs were isiXhosa and isiZulu, against 79.7% of those whose HL was isiBhaca. Evidently, HL speakers of isiXhosa and isiZulu felt threatened by the notion of introducing isiBhaca in education because such a move would threaten the current status quo of their HLs being favoured over isiBhaca in education; they would prefer that things remain as they are.

 

Future research

We move from a premise that researchers should establish from HL speakers about the status of their language, that is, is it a language in its own right or a dialect of another language. In the case of isiBhaca, its HL speakers hold a view that it is neither a dialect of isiXhosa nor of isiZulu, but a language in its own right, which, as an Nguni language, is mutually intelligible with the latter two languages. Language is a sensitive matter, and dictating to speakers that their HL is a 'dialect or 'non-standard variety' which is not an acceptable language in formal and significant domains, can only alienate them and build resentment towards the 'standard variety' being imposed upon them.

Moving from a premise that learners in Umzimkhulu expressed an appetite for the recognition and development of isiBhaca, we are of the view that future research needs to be conducted on the feasibility of developing isiBhaca to be a language that could be used in education. Such future research may be beneficial to other languages having no recognition as languages in their own right.

 

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to express their sincere appreciation to the 128 respondents (Grades 6 and 7 learners) from Umzimkhulu who participated in this research study.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they do not have any financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors' contributions

This article was written out of Mr Y.L.P. Majola's Master's research project under the supervision of Dr T. Ditsele, and co-supervision of Prof. M. Cekiso. Mr Y.L.P. Majola drafted the article, while Dr T. Ditsele and Prof. Cekiso revised and finalised it.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.

 

References

Ajzen, J., 1988, Attitude, personality and behaviour, Open University Press, Milton Keynes.

Babich, R.M., 1987, 'Dialects in the classroom: Their functions, some potential problems and guidelines for teachers', Journal of Thought 22(4), 89-94.         [ Links ]

Ball, J., 2010, Enhancing learning of children from diverse language backgrounds: Mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual education in the early years, UNESCO, Paris.

Ball, J., 2014, Children learn better in their mother tongue: Advancing research on mother tongue-based multilingual education, Global Partnership for Education, viewed 18 March 2019, from https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/children-learn-better-their-mother-tongue.

Bernard, H.R., 2002, Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches, Third Alta Mira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.

Butzkamm, W., 2003, 'We only learn language once: The role of the mother tongue in FL classrooms: Death of a dogma', Language Learning Journal 28(1), 29-39. https://doi.org/10.1080/09571730385200181        [ Links ]

Cheshire, J., 2005, 'Sociolinguistics and mother-tongue education', in U. Ammore, N. Dittnur, K. Mattheier & P. Trudgill (eds.), Sociolinguistics: An introductory handbook of the science of language and society, 2nd edn., pp. 2341-2350, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin.

Cook, G., 2003, Applied linguistics, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Creswell, J.W. & Plano Clark, V.L., 2011, Designing and conducting mixed method research, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Cummins, J., 2000, Language, power and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire, Multilingual Matters, Clevedon.

Ditsele, T., 2014, 'Perceptions of Black South African languages: A survey of the attitudes of Setswana-speaking university students toward their first language', Doctoral thesis, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria.         [ Links ]

Downes, W., 1998, Language and society, 2nd edn., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Dumitraskovic, T.A., 2014, 'Culture, identity, and foreign language teaching and learning', Journal of Foreign Teaching and Learning 3(2), 251-258. https://doi.org/10.14706/JFLTAL152222        [ Links ]

Dunstan, S.B., 2015, 'Dialect and influences on the academic experiences of college students', The Journal of Higher Education 86(5), 777-803. https://doi.org/10.1353/jhe.2015.0026        [ Links ]

Foley, A., 2001, Mother-tongue education in South Africa, viewed 18 March 2019, from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7480/e45690cf7819b8e19de46fb050dbf5da3231.pdf

Garrett, P., Coupland, N. & Williams, A., 2003, Investigating language attitudes: Social dialect, ethnicity and performance, pp. 1-251, University of Wales Press, Cardiff.

Giles, H. & Johnson, P., 2006, 'Language attitudes and the role of communication infrastructures: Communication ecology model', Moderna Spŕak 100(1), 38-54.         [ Links ]

Gxilishe, D.S., 1996, 'The dilemma of dialect in the classroom: A case for Xhosa', Per Linguam 12(1), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.5785/12-1-208        [ Links ]

Johnson, R.B. & Turner, L.S., 2003, 'Data collection strategies in mixed methods research', in A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Kramer, C.E., 2004, 'Accommodating dialect speakers in the classroom: Sociolinguistic aspects of textbook writing', Canadian Slavonic Papers 46(1-2), 59-72. https://doi.org/10.1080/00085006.2004.11092346        [ Links ]

Lippi-Green, R., 2012, English with an accent: Language, ideology, and discrimination in the United States, Routledge, London.

Malone, S., 2007, Mother tongue-based multilingual education, viewed 06 September 2018, from https://www.sil.org/sites/default/files/files/mtbmle_implications_for_policy.pdf.

Maqam, E.Z., 2015, 'The experiences of isiMpondo speakers in learning standard isiXhosa through the formal education system: An exploratory study at a school in the Bizana district of the Eastern Cape', Master's dissertation, Rhodes University, Grahamstown.         [ Links ]

McMillan, J.H. & Schumacher, S., 2010, Research in education: Evidence-based inquiry, 7th edn., pp. 1-528, Pearson, Boston, MA.

Mtsatse, N. & Combrinck, C., 2018, 'Dialects matter: The influence of dialects and code-switching on the literacy and numeracy achievements of isiXhosa Grade 1 learners in the Western Cape', Journal of Education 72, 20-37. https://doi.org/10.17159/2520-9868/i72a02        [ Links ]

Nomlomo, V.S., 1993, 'Language variation in the Transkeian Xhosa speech community and its impact on children's education', Master's dissertation, University of Cape Town, Cape Town.         [ Links ]

Papapavlou, A. & Pavlou, P., 2007, Sociolinguistic and pedagogical dimensions of dialects in education, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle.

Perloff, R.M., 1993, 'Third-person effect research 1983-1992: A review and synthesis', International Journal of Public Opinion Research 5(2), 167-184. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/5.2.167        [ Links ]

Republic of South Africa, 1996, Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996), Republic of South Africa, Pretoria.

Republic of South Africa, 1997, Language in Education Policy, Republic of South Africa, Pretoria.

Sailzmann, Z., 2007, Language, culture and society, 7th edn., Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

Sigcau, N.E., 1998, 'Educational implications of non-standard varieties of Xhosa', Master's dissertation, University of Cape Town, Cape Town.         [ Links ]

Spofana, D.G., 2011, 'Learners' texts: A portrayal of the influence of certain varieties of isiXhosa on English texts and vice versa', Doctoral thesis, University of South Africa, Pretoria.         [ Links ]

Tegegne, W., 2015, 'The use of dialects in education and its impacts on students' learning and achievements', Educational Journal 4(5), 263-269. https://doi.org/10.11648/j.edu.20150405.22        [ Links ]

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 2008, Mother tongue matters: Local language as a key to effective learning, UNESCO, Paris.

 

 

Correspondence:
Thabo Ditsele
ditsele@hotmail.com

Received: 30 Mar. 2019
Accepted: 12 July 2019
Published: 30 Sept. 2019

^rND^sBabich^nR.M.^rND^sButzkamm^nW.^rND^sDumitraskovic^nT.A.^rND^sDunstan^nS.B.^rND^sGiles^nH^rND^sJohnson^nP.^rND^sGxilishe^nD.S.^rND^sKramer^nC.E.^rND^sMtsatse^nN.^rND^sCombrinck^nC.^rND^sPerloff^nR.M.^rND^sTegegne^nW.^rND^1A01^nRoger M.^sField^rND^1A01^nRoger M.^sField^rND^1A01^nRoger M^sField

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

 

Cavafy, Vos, Dangor: A belated reply to Phil van Schalkwyk

 

 

Roger M. Field

Department of English Literature, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

The influence of the Alexandrian Greek poet Constantin Cavafy on South African literature in English has received some attention, but his impact on Afrikaans letters merits further investigation. The present article partly fills that gap by examining a small body of poetry and fiction by Cas Vos and Achmat Dangor. It draws on an article by Phil van Schalkwyk to show what it might mean to write in the manner of Cavafy. Thereafter, it discusses Vos's translations into Standard Afrikaans within his context. Achmat Dangor wrote his Cavafian poetry in a Vernacular Afrikaans. The article considers how writers and poets such as Mark Twain, David Dabydeen, Richard Rive and Adam Small have responded to the challenges and implications of writing in non-standard varieties of English and Afrikaans. Because irony and parody characterise Dangor's initial debt to Cavafy, this piece also considers these devices. It then moves to a detailed analysis of the relevant poems by Dangor, including comparisons with the poems by Cavafy they evoke, and then to work by Dangor on Cavafy in Standard English in which he reflects on why Cavafy has influenced him. It argues that Dangor discarded a literary vernacular medium for Standard English because of the former's implicit distinction between 'ordinary' (inarticulate, authentic) and 'extra-ordinary' (articulate, unauthentic) patois speakers. It concludes that Dangor's switch to Standard English may have resolved a personal dilemma, but leaves unanswered many questions about the literary use of a patois.

Keywords: Cavafy; Dangor; Vos; vernacular languages; translation; irony; parody.


 

 

Introduction

In his article '"Op de wijze van Kavafis": Die voorbeeld van die digter uit Alexandrië', Phil van Schalkwyk observes that I note Constantin Cavafy's influence on poets such as William Plomer and Mike Nicol, but that 'Afrikaans literature is not accounted for in Field's (2014:2) research' (die Afrikaanse letterkunde word egter nie in Field [2011] se ondersoek verreken nie).1 The extent of Cavafy's and George Seferis' impact on South African literary and political culture is evident from Lara Buxbaum's report on a South African celebration of Cavafy marking 130 years since his birth and 80 years since his death. She mentions Stephen Gray, Don Maclennan, Wopko Jensma, Douglas Livingstone, Keorapetse Kgositsile, George Bizos, Renos Spanoudes and Irene Stephanou. Surprisingly, she omits Achmat Dangor. I take Van Schalkwyk's point, and respond by commenting on Cas Vos's contribution to this topic through his Fragmente uit die Ilias (2014) and his Cavafy translations in Voor-bode (2015), and by examining a few of Achmat Dangor's poems from Bulldozer (1983) and Private Voices (1992), and short stories from Strange Pilgrimages (2013a) which have Cavafy as a reference point.

Van Schalkwyk makes an insightful contribution to a complex issue: what it might mean to write in the manner of Cavafy. He notes several features: the proselike quality of his poetry; a self-contained poetic persona at times distant from itself; retrospective narrators; speakers who experience regret or social exclusion because of their culture, religion, language or sexual orientation, who may be on the margins of great events, or who observe actual or imaginary historical figures during significant events. Vos and Dangor's poetry display some of these features intermittently.

Van Schalkwyk observes that 'Cavafy's work lends itself well to a study of the idiolectal aspects of a writer's identity' [Kavafis se werk sig besonder goed leen tot 'n studie van idiolektiese skrywersidentiteit] (2014:2). In Small's poetry, a Vernacular Afrikaans (VA) sociolect became his idiolect, whereas for Dangor a VA sociolect became a temporary idiolect. Confining ourselves to voice, form and subject matter (2014:2) in Cavafy's poetry, these aspects include a 'suggestion, as much rhetorical and aesthetic-dramatic of how the speaker (or anyone) might ideally carry themselves in a specific predicament' ['n suggestie, sowel retories as esteties-dramaties van hoe die spreker (of enige mens) hom ideaal in 'n bepaalde situasie sou kon handhaaf] (2014:3) and the cultivation of an inner voice. Cavafy's poetry offers a guide to ethical behaviour which his protagonists acknowledge but do not always live by, and this failure is more often a cause of regret rather than condemnation in poems such as 'Thermopylae' (Cavafy 1989:9) or 'Priest at the Serapeum' (Cavafy 1989:139).2

 

Van Schalkwyk

Van Schalkwyk notes Cavafy's 'intellectual control over (personal) experience or subject matter and poetic language' [verstandelike beheer oor (persoonlike) ervaring of onderwerp én digterlike teks] (2014:3). He also refers to the 'narrative continuity' that links not only those poems which deal with 'an experience in the personal past, but also the poems in which an historical vignette is foregrounded or an imaginary dialogue of historical figures is rendered' ['n verhalende inslag, nie net dié wat handel oor 'n ervaring in die persoonlike verlede nie, maar ook die verse waarin 'n historiese vinjet na vore gebring word of 'n versonne dialoog van historiese figure aangebied word] (2014:6) in, for instance, 'Sculptor of Tyana' (Cavafy 1989:33), 'An artisan of wine-mixing bowls' (Cavafy 1989:112) and the 'Days of ' poems (Cavafy 1989:77, 142, 144, 152, 169). One can add mythological vignettes and dialogues or interactions with mythological figures. In this respect, because of their extensive biblical and Western cultural references, Vos and Small have more in common with Cavafy than Dangor here.

Cavafy's work, says Van Schalkwyk (2014), is 'characterised by an exceptionally slow evolution and struggle in respect of two main issues, namely his poetic craft and his sexual identity' [gekenmerk deur 'n besonder langsame evolusie en worsteling ten opsigte van twee hoofkwessies, naamlik sy digterskap en seksuele identiteit] (p. 3), and 'two main themes, which are often closely intertwined: the historical, particularly in relation to ancient Greece, and the personal, with a central focus on the longing for past homoerotic experiences' [twee hooftemas, wat dikwels nóú vervleg is: die historiese, veral met betrekking tot antieke Griekeland, en die persoonlike, met as sentrale fokus die verlange na vervloë homoërotiese ervarings] (p. 3). The latter is not quite true. Most of Cavafy's historical poetry attends to the post-Alexandrian Hellenistic worlds of the Ptolemaic and Seleucid dynasties, to Greeks living in colonies or under Roman rule and to the impact of Christianity on Hellenism. Where 'mainland' Greece is a subject, for instance, in 'In the year 200 BC' (Cavafy 1989:167) or 'Going back home from Greece' (Cavafy 1989:272), it is clearly no heimat. Nor is there such an easy distinction between the historical and the personal. As Edmund Keeley (1995:50) points out:

Cavafy's erotic poems, whether set in ancient or contemporary Alexandria, are coloured by the same tragic sense that we find in what he himself designated as his historical or philosophical poems (categories, along with the erotic, that, he reminds his reader, often merge).

In addition, Cavafy was 'a writer's and poet's poet' ['n digter vir digters en skrywers], was 'exceptionally well read' [besonder wyd gelese] (Van Schalkwyk 2014:1) in the Greek and Roman classics, and through his poetry he explored not only the limits of expression, but also the limits to the expression of same-sex desire in his own life and times, and those of the Hellenic world as an ascendant and rule-bound Christianity imposed more rigid, ascetic codes. Cavafy was also a creature of his own time, and he relied on more recent historians and classicists such as Gibbon's The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1789), Bevan's two-volume The house of Seleucus (1873, 1902) and Mahaffy's work on the Ptolemaic dynasty (Liddell 2002:119-121). Most of Small's and Dangor's poetry is set in the present. Where Vos draws on the eras of Mozart, Beethoven and Keats (1756-1827), and Vos and Small on the Old and New Testament, Dangor's literary references and allusions to Nizami, Homer, Yeats, T.S. Eliot and Salman Rushdie contribute more to his works' social imaginary.

 

Vos

Voor-bode (Vos 2015), Cas Vos's ninth published poetry collection, contains translations from Greek into Afrikaans of three of Seferis' and 15 Cavafy's poems.3 A more scholarly, and less political engagement than Dangor's, Vos has included poems from the Cavafy 'canon' and those that were 'hidden'. Cavafy scholars use these two categories, along with a third, 'refuted', to categorise Cavafy's attitudes towards his work as a whole. Voor-bode also contains two extremely useful essays that summarise much of Cavafy's scholarship available at that time (Vos 2015:129-132). In 2014, Vos published translations into Afrikaans of excerpts from the Iliad, along with an Afrikaans summary of all 24 books, and in 2007 he and Dirk Human co-edited Liefde is die grootste: Oor erotiek en seksualiteit. Its first three contributions deal with those topics in the pre-Christian and Christian worlds of the Near East, and therefore speak indirectly to a notable Cavafy theme - how in his view Christianity suppressed polytheism and homoeroticism - which, in much of his poetry set in antiquity, he codes as cosmopolitan Hellenism. The corollary of that order is that in Cavafy's homoerotic poems set in his contemporary Alexandria or Athens, many of his subjects and characters are socially and economically marginal figures who are out of place and time.

It is a truism that every translation is an interpretation and, ideally, a faithful, ethical approximation of evasive meanings that seeks, for instance, to reconcile competing demands in the source- and target-language of word order and word-placings, the weight of earlier translations, and all of the possible, overlapping literal, idiomatic and figurative meanings. While Vos has translated Cavafy into Standard Afrikaans, Dangor wrote much of his Cavafy-inspired poetry in a VA, and changed the settings so that they were compatible with VA. This is not the place to compare their renderings of Cavafy because their aims are so clearly different. However, there is room for a more modest assessment of their projects based on some of Vos's own comments in the introductory essays to his Fragmente uit die Ilias (Vos 2014), and Dangor's views on patois. Of interest here is Vos's discussion of Sheila Cussons' collection Die swart kombuis because it refers to Greek mythology. Vos states that 'the title poem must be read along with the two other "kitchen" poems, "The yellow kitchen" and "Hera's kitchen", to arrive at a complete meaning" ['moet die titelgedig saam met die twee ander 'kombuis'-gedigte, 'Die geel kombuis' and 'Kombuis van Hera', gelees word om volledig tot sy reg te kom' (2014:34-35)].

Because several of Vos's own poems are about or dedicated to academics, theologians, artists, musicians and poets, the thematic arrangement of his poems and the translations invite comment. The poems in Section IV are about confessional love, about bodies in close, strenuous contact, about lovers apart and about art and exchange value, and it contains three Cavafy's poems. Vos's 'Psychotria elata' (2015:47), about the predetermined, random penetration and pollination by a humming bird of this 'hot lips' plant, precedes Cavafy's 'Die tabakwinkelvenster' (Vos 2015:48; Cavafy 1989:78) and 'Kom terug' (Vos 2015:49; Cavafy 1989:43). With its irregular scansion and aabb rhyme scheme, 'Psychotria elata' has a doggerel-like quality, and is meant to be gently humorous, and the sequence acknowledges the metonymic power of body parts in both of Cavafy's poems, but it also encourages a reading that focuses on the 'hit-and-run' nature of the encounter, and diverts attention from the forms of covert communication and the tension between desire and danger in these two poems. Following imagined correspondence between Mozart and his wife Constanze, and between Keats and Fanny Brawne, Vos returns to himself through a poem based on Genesis 32:22-31, in which Jacob struggles or wrestles with an angel. As a sequence of close encounters Vos seems to offer successively higher levels of engagement that begins at an organic, animal level in 'Psychotria elata' and ends with the spiritual submission of 'Gedig vir my engel' (Vos 2015:56). This makes 'Die tabakwinkelvenster' second-most primitive. However, Section IV concludes on an aestheticist note with Cavafy's 'Van die winkel' (Vos 2015:57; Cavafy 1989:47), rejecting the organic and the spiritual. Like another early poem 'Artificial flowers' (Cavafy 1989:210), it valorises the artificiality of art over nature and human relationships. In the latter, a highly skilled jeweller will not sell his finest work - roses of rubies, lilies of pearl, violets of amethysts - which neither the organic original nor knowledge based on investigation can surpass. Customers are offered inferior, more functional items such as chains and rings. This artist is 'against nature' for his work is superior to it, and he is against society for he does not need other people. Love of the love of art for art's sake is sufficient.

Section V contains the same proportion of Cavafy poems, but sets up a different pattern as it moves through opposites until the last element: dusk and dawn; material poverty and spiritual richness versus material wealth and inner emptiness; an excess of art versus moderated nature; garden versus city; trapped in repetition versus departure; regret versus possibilities; finally, preparations for death. Cavafy's 'Die stad' (Vos 2015:69, Cavafy 1989:27) may be read through contrasts between garden and city, revitalising and constraining repetition, and between stasis and movement. In Vos's poems, that movement is Adam and Eve's expulsion from Eden and the evening before his and another's reluctant departure from Portofino. If 'Die stad' speaks to the inability to find pleasure, ''n Ou man' (Vos 2015:72, Cavafy 1989:7) reflects on years wasted by not seeking it. Surrounded by bustling café life, Cavafy's speaker knows that his subject regrets that temperance and moderation governed his life when he was young, energetic, attractive and articulate - and is the opposite of 'Understanding', whose mature, reconciled speaker now comprehends the link between fulfilled, guiltless desire and creativity (Vos 2015:73, Cavafy 1989:8):

What needless repentances, how futile

But I did not grasp their meaning then.

Deep in the dissolute life of my young manhood

the designs of my poetry took shape,

the scope of my art was being plotted.

Cavafy's 'Kerse' (Vos 2015:73, Cavafy 1989:8), a more open-ended meditation on possibilities, follows ''n Ou man'. In this early poem from 1899, the speaker compares his life to candles that have burnt out, that are still smoking and that are burning. Anxiety replaces regret, for he is concerned that the line of blackened candles is quickly lengthening. The final three poems of this section present a speaker who comes to terms with death through the beauty of Mozart's music, who accepts death by rejecting his fear of it, who accepts death because there is an afterlife in which he will reunite with his beloved. In Cavafy's poetry, we seldom find an afterlife - whether Christian or polytheist - and expressions of irreparable loss are more frequent.

Departing from the established pattern, Section VI begins with six of Cavafy's poems set in historical or mythological antiquity, but ends with a return to the status quo through another early, 'philosophical' poem. Those first six poems, united by themes of death and prophecy, are translations of 'The Ides of March', 'Salome', 'Aristoboulos', 'Waiting for the barbarians', and two poems about the death of the emperor Nero: 'Footsteps' and 'Nero's deadline' (Vos 2015:78-85; Cavafy 1989:29, 245, 89, 18, 15, 84). They set the tone for most of Vos's own poems in which he explores medical procedures, death and decay, political conflict, followed by a poem about childhood visits to family graves. Cavafy's 'Stemme' (Vos 2015:109; Cavafy 1989:4) concludes this section by summarising the speaker's ability to hear the idealised and 'beloved' voices of the dead in dreams and conscious memory, and presumably Vos's desire to do the same.

The last section contains two Cavafy's poems, 'Verborgenhede' (Vos 2015:118; Cavafy 268) and 'Ithaka' (Vos 2015:122-123; Cavafy 1989:36-37). On the translator's obligations, his introduction to Fragmente raises points that he seems to have ignored in Voor-bode (Vos 2014:39):

The distance between the cultural-historical context of the original poem and the text of the translation must always be taken into consideration. This requires the translator to engage, as far as is humanly possible, with the cultural-historical situation of the original text. [Die afstand tussen die kultuur-historiese konteks van die oorspronklike gedig en die teks van die omdigting moet altyd in ag geneem word. Dit vra van die omdigter om so ver dit menslike moontlik is, kennis te dra van die kultuur-historiese situasie van die oorspronklike teks.]

By including 'Verborgenhede', an early work that Cavafy chose not to publish during his own lifetime, Vos has not shied away from Cavafy's gay subject matter. However, a comparison with the Cavafy poems that Vos cites in his Fragmente suggests that cultural historical context is important or perhaps accessible when it is mythological, but less so when the subject matter is the effect of repressed homosexuality on life and art, to which this doubly 'hidden' poem silently speaks.

 

Dangor

Dangor's VA is not, strictly speaking, Cape Vernacular Afrikaans (CVA) because his speakers are in Cape Town and Fordsburg. By way of a working definition, VA is a fictional or literary variety of Afrikaans that evokes CVA; it is an imagined 'colloquial language' [omgangstaal] (Willemse 2016:80) based on actual language use; in its imagined social world, it 'has many speakers among Cape Town's working class, including Cape Muslims and/or people of colour but also some whites' [hettalle sprekers uit die Kaapstadse werkersklas, onder wie Kaapse Moesliems en/or bruin persone maar ook wit persone] (Hendricks 2016:5).

From Bulldozer (Dangor 1983) in VA to Private Voices (Dangor 1992) in Standard English, the language of Dangor's poetry has changed dramatically, but the subject matter has remained consistent for both collections contain several poems about cities: the destruction of District Six in Cape Town, and the speaker's impressions of great cities. In an interview that Staffrider published in 1990, he too reflects on the limits of expression when he tells Andries Oliphant why he worked in poetry, and short and long fiction. Poetry 'suited the terse and pointed style to convey the realities [he] observed'; he could exploit 'the immediacy of the form to write about things as [he] saw them' (Dangor 1990a:31). He decided to use a 'township patois or lingua franca' (Dangor 1990a:32) because he was living in places without libraries or books. He 'picked up some of the language spoken in these areas', and 'attuned [his] ears' to the ambient, 'oral forms of storytelling' (Dangor 1990a:32). He did not want to 'literally transfer the oral forms into writing' (Dangor 1990a:32). Indeed, using a standard definition of patois from the Concise Oxford Dictionary as 'the dialect of the common people in a region, differing fundamentally from the literary language' (Dangor 1991:872), he may have felt this was impossible. Instead, he aimed to selectively 'interpret' or refashion the patois so that he could capture 'the experience embodied in the language' (Dangor 1990a:32). Ironically, some of this fiction now forms part of the corpus of the Oxford Dictionary of South African English (1991) used to exemplify actual meanings.

Controversially, Dangor (1990a) found poetry in patois 'somewhat restrictive especially when exploring philosophical and theoretical matters' (p. 32). Two contradictory indicators of this dissatisfaction are that many of the patois poems in Bulldozer are meant to be spoken because they have addressees, and several have Standard English titles. In effect, they are less likely to be lyrical and they required a Standard English framework. Later he turned to prose when he sought to 'develop a more contemplative attitude to writing' (p. 31), though he still incorporated vernacular expression in prose works such as Z Town Trilogy (Dangor 1990b), Kafka's Curse (Dangor 1992) and Bitter Fruit (Dangor 2001). Personal reasons may also have played a part. The first-person narrator of his short story 'Goodbye, goodnight' (Dangor 2013a) reads the Bureau of State Security's file on himself, which is in Afrikaans. Addressing his readers and his fictional self, he associates the death of this own Afrikaans with his mother's death, and confesses that 'I'm going to have to translate as I read through the file, otherwise my brain won't process the information' (Dangor 2013:55). By the early 1990s, he felt he could explore deeper matters using Standard English for poetry, and that he could write more thoughtfully in prose.

Focusing on his early, 'unsatisfactory' published patois poetry, two questions arise:

  • How might one distinguish poems in a refashioned vernacular with 'philosophical and theoretical' concerns from those without this feature?

  • Why might Dangor have felt this approach was 'restrictive'?

Two cautions.

Firstly, I pose questions and answers as possibilities; my answer to the first question relies on inductive reasoning; the answer to the second question is more speculative. Secondly, both questions and answers require me to assume that Dangor has in mind two types of imagined speakers of his refashioned vernacular. There are the 'ordinary' and the 'extra-ordinary' speakers. As studies of censorship debates show (Durant 2010:141-142), the 'reasonable' or 'ordinary' reader or speaker is a complex, context-specific construct often laden with assumptions and prejudices.

The literary use of vernacular is beset with currents of complicity and resistance between writer, publisher and intended or actual readerships. In the 'Explanatory' to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain informs his readers that he will use a combination of racial and regional markers to distinguish several dialects and subdialects his characters will use. Without this advisory, 'many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding' (2003:48). One may infer at least four points from Twain's dry humour: (1) Literary recreations of dialect may be subtle, but they are not necessarily historically accurate; (2) readers must want to hear imaginatively the differences as they read them on the page; (3) in imagining these differences, readers commit to a range of assumptions or prejudices about the writer, narrators and speakers; (4) as Huck and Jim's debate in Chapter 19 about the origins of the universe, which pits the theory of evolution against intelligent design, the story may challenge those assumptions while continuing to use vocabulary that 'fits' the characters.

Twain has in mind an 'eye-dialect strategy' (Bowdre in Willemse 2016:75), in which 'a spoken language-variety acquires written form through an informal orthography' ['n gesproke taalvorm met 'n informele ortografie skriftelike gestalte kry]. This, Willemse (2016:75) stresses:

is not a precise phonetic transcript, but an idiosyncratic creation by the writer to place emphasis on the deviant pronunciation of his characters. Eye-dialect needs the standard language and often in the process simultaneously implies inferiority and social exclusion [ is nie in presiese fonetiese transkripsie nie, maar 'n idiosinkratiese skepping van die skrywer om die klem op die afwykende taalsuitspraak van sy karakterspreker te laat val. Oogdialek het die standardtaal nodig en dikwels daarmee saam betekenisse van minderwaardigheid en sosiale uitgeslotenheid dra.].

Both Richard Rive and the Guyana-born poet David Dabydeen have objected to the use of vernacular forms, particularly when they preserve economic inequalities and social exclusion. Rive, according to his biographer, regarded CVA as:

a debased and demeaning language, as was Cape 'Coon' culture, encouraged by the apartheid authorities and writers such as ID du Plessis in order to assert the ethnicity and distinctness of the 'coloured race'. (Viljoen 2013:189)

Dabydeen also recognises that its valorisation may be a form of subjugation. The first and last stanzas of his 'Coolie Odyssey' are firstly the postcolonial intellectual's bitter reflections on the Western European metropolitan intellectual's exploitation of the oral turn, which is partly fantasised immediacy and authenticity and lastly the metropolitan intellectual's waning, partly polite but distant interest (Dabydeen 1988:9, 13):

Now that peasantry is in vogue,

Poetry bubbles from peat bogs,

People strain for the old folk's fatal gobs

Coughed up in grates North or North East

Tween bouts o' living dialect,

It should be time to hymn your own wreck,

Your house the source of ancient song:

Dry coconut shells cackling in the fireside

Smoking up our children's eyes and lungs,

Plantains spitting oil from a clay pot,

Thick sugary black tea gulped down.

We mark your memory in songs

Fleshed in the emptiness of folk,

Poems that scrape bowl and bone

In English basements far from home,

Or confess the lust of beasts

In rare conceits

To congregations of the educated

Sipping wine, attentive between courses -

See the applause fluttering from their white hands

Like so many messy table napkins.

Small affirms non-standard varieties of a language. In his Afterword to the revised 1973 edition of Kitaar My Kruis, he writes that 'Kaaps is a language, a language in the sense that it supports the whole fate and destiny of the people who speak it' ['Kaaps is 'n taal, 'n taal in die sin dat dit die volle lot en noodlot van die mense wat dit praat, dra'] (1987:83).4 Cloete (2012:128) extends this Romantic-organic approach when he argues that:

Small's appropriation of the 'language of apartheid' must not necessarily be construed as a consequence of a political 'false consciousness' but rather as the inescapable moral-political context for redefining the question of the possibility of 'being human' in apartheid South Africa.

Like Small, Dangor acknowledges the more far-reaching deprivation of those around him who speak mainly or only non-standard varieties. Unlike Small, he did not use his poetry to proclaim its value. Instead, he refashioned a patois to transcend what he regarded as local restrictions on literacy and formal education so that his 'ordinary' speakers could express ideas or arguments which he believed they could not normally articulate. For Dangor, then, how might one distinguish the poems in his 'extra-ordinary' refashioned vernacular from those poems written in the 'ordinary' refashioned version?

The 'extra-ordinary' element here consists of ironic and parodic allusions to the Odyssey, to poems by Nizami, Homer, Cavafy, W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot, and to The Rubaiyat of Omar Khyyam. In VA, Dangor's narrators and poetic voices approach Cavafy's poetry ironically and parodically. For the purposes of this article, Frederic Jameson's (1991) and James Scott's (1985) understandings of these terms are helpful. Irony in Jameson's critique of postmodernism is 'the supreme theoretical concept and value of traditional modernism and the very locus of the notion of self-consciousness and the reflexive' (Jameson 1991:259). In 'Capitalism', he argues, among irony's many effects is its 'penetration even of middle-class lived experience by this strange new global relativity of the colonial network' (Jameson 1991:412). In Scott's study of 'everyday forms of peasant resistance', irony is a mode through which peasants describe and criticise far-reaching socio-economic changes over which they have little power (Scott 1985:162, 168, 350). In that context, irony is an act of fatalistic, defensive masking (Scott 1985:286). If this applies to the metropolitan middle class, and accounting for Dangor's allusions to ancient Persia, and colonial India and Egypt, both should also apply in some measure to the indigenous or nationally oppressed elements of the middle class of settler-colonial states such as South Africa.

In parody, Jameson (1985) sees homage mediated by accentuated deviation 'from a norm which then reasserts itself, in a not unfriendly way, by a systematic mimicry of wilfull eccentricities' (pp. 15-16). Parody affirms the value of the original. As Dentith (2002) points out, parodic deviation only works if the audience recognises the original or is sufficiently familiar with the salient stylistic or discursive features being evoked (p. 39). However, it is impossible to predetermine parody's cultural politics. Postcolonial 'writing back' may be a form of insurgent parody (p. 29), while Menippean satire, which offers 'a learned parody of learning, or indeed a philosophical parody of philosophy, by means of a comic, self-parodying narrator', may be deeply conservative (pp. 47, 49). Transferred to a South African context, Jameson, Scott and Dentith speak to self-conscious expressions of ambivalence in a postcolonial elite's relationship to the Western literary canon, in the simultaneous valorisation and mockery of colonial masters and imperial culture by slaves and former slaves, in clever talk and impatience with it and in a turn to fatalistic humour even post-liberation.

In Bulldozer, Dangor (1978) does not write in the manner of Cavafy. Instead, like the speaker of Cavafy's poem 'Ithaka' who advises Odysseus to 'always have Ithaka in mind' (p. 47), Dangor writes with Cavafy in mind, exemplifying Jameson's ironic incursion. A relatively long poem by Dangor's standards, 'Odyssey' (pp. 65-66) is about 'Doela [Abdullah] from Kholvad/who defended his honour' (p. 65) through revenge against British imperial power in India. Entreated by his family to surrender for their sakes [gie op/vi' onse sakes] (p. 65), he fled to South Africa, first landing in Delagoa Bay (now Maputo Bay). References to Guam and Goa do not literally mean that Doela arrived via these places. They evoke an additional, Portuguese imperial network and the capacity of several other Dangor protagonists to shift between 'racial' categories, particularly where a person categorised as 'person of mixed race' in South Africa could successfully pass for 'white' by adopting a non-Aryan Portuguese, Italian or Jewish whiteness. As Dangor's (1997) short story 'Kafka's Curse' (pp. 5-142) suggests, the punishment for this transgression may be metamorphosis. In 'Odyssey', Doela married in Cape Town, lived in Schotschekloof, but believed he was superior to those around him because he could claim direct family connections to the Indian subcontinent. As punishment for this hubris, and for opposing the government, he would spend 10 years on Robben Island (Dangor 1983:66):

Ten years on

Robben Island,

we warned him,

you cannot

stand against

the Government,

they are too powerful.

Hell, that's history not so?

[Tien jaar op

Robbeneiland

ons het hom gewarn,

jy kannie teen die

Government staan,

hulle is té powerful.

Junnie, dis history né?]

At the end of a long journey, Doela does not seek Ithaca. Instead, unlike Homer's and Cavafy's Odysseus in 'Ithaka', for whom it is more means-to-self-consciousness than destination, Doela's Ithaka is closer to Tennyson's 'Ulysses' and Cavafy's 'A second Odyssey' - a prison and a search for death (Cavafy 1877).

'Die nuwe order' [The new order], also in Bulldozer (Dangor 1983:87), contains Dangor's first reference to Cavafy's poem 'Since nine o'clock ' (Dangor 1983:88). He returns to the poem in Bitter Fruit (2001:211) and the short story 'A strange pilgrimage' (2013b:139-148). Cavafy's speaker reflects on how long he has been silently reminiscing, then on how and why he reminisced, before he discloses the content of those memories: the private and public spaces through which he recalls bodily sexual pleasures, and troubles that affect his family. Dangor's epigraph is the last two lines of Cavafy's poem: 'Half past twelve. How the time has passed/Half past twelve. How the years have passed' (Cavafy 1989:88).

As with his other poems of reverie such as 'Caesarion' (Cavafy 1989:80), Cavafy compresses preceding years and centuries into hours. By contrast, Dangor's male speaker addresses the object of desire, a woman. He complains that 'dis halfpast twelve' (1983:87), and he and his desires have so aged as to be forgotten ['n vergete lus]. Outside young women and men dance, and 'oh youth/is pure/horniness' [o jeugdigheid/is onvervlekte/jagsgeid] (Dangor 1983:87). His poem too contrasts private and public spaces, but where Cavafy's staged reverie on the betrayal and murder of this doomed androgynous youth shifts between present and past, Dangor's is all in the present and future.

Dangor has created an ironic and unstable connection. The ironies inherent in the contrasts between epigraph, voice and content keep Cavafy in mind, but deliberately undermine any attempt to write 'in the manner of Cavafy'. To emphasise that outcome, Dangor's final stanza reworks the last two lines of Yeats's 'The second coming'. His 'what rough beast /Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?' becomes 'watse skolliebees/slinger Jerusalem heen/vir sy geboortenis?' (Dangor 1983:87) This ending could not be further from Cavafy's capacity for sustained anti-climax and melancholy. The tight control over erotic demand and supply that Panagiotis Roilos (2009) finds in many of Cavafy's poems, in Dangor must have its release.

Cavafy (1989) wrote five 'Days of ' poems: '1903' (p. 89), '1901' (p. 162), '1896' (p. 165), '1909, 1910 and 1911' (p. 175) and '1908' (pp. 196-197). All describe the fading beauty of young men who for reasons, such as vanity, poverty or social pressure, survived precariously through gambling, hustling, borrowing, pimping and prostitution. Cavafy's speakers look back from the vantage point of several years and their own wealth and relatively secure social standing. Those resources enabled them to participate in these young men's worlds as flâneur, client or scopophiliac, though without any hint of awareness that their transactional relationship has contributed to this pain and exploitation (Cavafy 1989:175):

I ask myself if in the days of antiquity

glorious Alexandria possessed a more superb-looking youth,

a lad more perfect than he - who had been wasted:

Of course, no statue or painting was ever done of him;

cast into the filthy old ironmonger's,

quickly, by heavy labour,

and by common debauchery, so wretched, he was destroyed.

In Cavafy's poetry, Daniel Mendelsohn (2003) suggests, antiquity or death may preserve beauty, but in the present it always decays.

There are moments when Dangor approaches this affect in 'Dae van 1973' (1983:93) and 'Dae van 1977' (102), though he remains committed to the intimations of apocalypse evident in 'Die nuwe order'. Both refer to a time when Dangor identified with Black Consciousness (Dangor 2004), but only '1977' addresses that topic directly. Both share Cavafy's sense of urban spatial and moral enclosure, but only '1977' is about transactional sex. Set in District Six in a hot room on a hot day, with a storm brewing around Table Mountain [brou Tafelberg die/wolke van 'n storm] (Dangor 1983:93), 'Dae van 1973' looks at the relationship between desire, faith and social pressure. From that perspective, it has more in common with those 'autobiographical' Cavafy's poems in which the speaker recalls the places where he and the object of desire at that time shared highly charged sexual encounters, and those historical poems in which an ascendant, rule-bound monotheism confronts a doomed, sensual polytheism.

Unlike Cavafy's homoerotic oeuvre, in 'Dae van 1973' the two lovers are man and a woman united by an erotically charged, nonphysical intimacy that Dangor seems to derive from two sources: the 12th Common Era (CE) Story of Layla and Majnun (Nizami 2011) and Mohandas Gandhi's 'brahmacharya experiment' (Adams 2012). Like Cavafy, the male speaker acknowledges that the relationship is sinful, but justifies it by referring to an earlier, sensual polytheism. The speaker of Dangor's poem describes the couple as 'Adam and Eve/in Hanover Street' [Adam en Eva/in Hanoverstraat] (Dangor 1983:93).5 With a parodic nod to The Rubaiyat, the woman's honeyed sweat is as forbidden as the red wine that they may not drink [rooi soes die wyn/wat os nie mag drink 'ie]. The call to prayer [bang] reminds them that they must part; he can hear the 'severe, measured tread' [skerp, uitgemete stappe] of the blessed, and he can see 'the purity of the faith/on their faces' [die helderheid vannie geloef/op hul gesigte]. In this moment out of time interrupted by the time of the eternal (Dangor 1983:93):

The hour of prayer

hangs like centuries

over our thoughts,

you don't want

me to touch you.

[Die gebedsuur

hang soes eeue

op os gedagte,

jy wil nie hê

ek moet aan jou raak nie.]

For the present, the speaker's respect for his lover prevents him from acting on his desires. Many of Dangor's speakers and main protagonists are male and Muslim, with uneven religious adherence, and the lovers share this faith. In the distance, a storm is brewing around Table Mountain, a threat from the gods - now plural and pagan - for this pair of 'sun-worshipping sinners' [son-versotte sondaars] (Dangor 1983:93), who will experience release and punishment in quick succession. Here Dangor writes in the manner of Cavafy, who often evokes an ancient world of polytheism and a range of sexual practices that Christianity did not permit.

'Dae Van 1977 (Winter in Fordsburg)' is the last poem in Bulldozer (Dangor 1983:102). It too recalls a relationship between a man and woman; the tone is sarcastic, triumphalist and denigrating; there is no inhibiting force this time; and the sexual discourse is far more overt and sexist than the fraught, checked intimacy of '1973'. It opens with a young black woman's response to the gaze of the flâneur or potential client: 'Are you checking me out?/do you want a piece?' ['Wat kyk jy/wil jy 'n stuk hê?'], she asks. It closes with his response: 'Hey girlie!/stop rubbing your arse/against me' ['Hey meid!/hou op jou sterre/soe teen my skuur']. Between her call and his response, the speaker first describes the woman, whom he already knows, and then addresses her in his thoughts (Dangor 1983:102):

Your eyes glow

like dull sparks

debaucheries from the

cold fire

of our dreams.

You jewel

my black flamingo

with the false

pink hair,

dance

your long slim legs

were the image

of my black

consciousness.

Now you dance

your wretched dance

and dream your hollow-eyed dreams

a dead star that in fits and starts

drifts through the cosmos.

[Jou oege gloei

soos dowwe vonke

uitspatsels uit die

koue vuur

van ons droeme.

Jy skat

my swart vlamink

met die vals

pienk hare

dans

jou lank slank biene

was die beeld

van my swart

bewustheid.

Nou dans jy

jou ellendige dans

en droem jou leeg-oeg drome

'n dooie ster wat stamp-stamp

deur die kosmos drif]

The speaker recalls their shared sexual history and acknowledges his continuing desire, but now criticises this object of desire. Part-autobiography, part-Cavafy, Dangor converts Black Consciousness into a garish, burnt-out sex worker with a hint of morbidity.

It is only much later that Dangor's voices and narrators consciously reflect on Cavafy's hold. Their speakers or protagonists are well read and cosmopolitan. In the terms that I used earlier, they are 'ordinary' speakers because the expression, literacy and experiences of the narrator, focaliser or poetic voice are all mutually compatible. 'Alexandria' is one of an 11-part cycle 'Africans Abroad', which, in turn, prefigures the first part of Strange pilgrimages. In the poem 'Alexandria', the speaker faces up to 'what you called my truth': disillusionment over the contrast between that city's Cavafian myth and its modern reality, and his own homophobia. He finds contemporary Alexandria 'so seedy, / not the city its great poet described', to which his companion responds: 'Your problem is your homophobia / It [Alexandria] is Egyptian, a city of men/ Yes think of the city as a man,/his vanity feint' (1992:52-53).

Dangor's arrangement of the short stories in Strange pilgrimages shows how he keeps Cavafy in mind. In the title story, the main protagonist, who shares Mandela's birthday, tries to cope with his midlife crisis and the failure to act on desire by turning to T.S. Eliot, Cavafy and Joseph Conrad - three modernists whose work epitomises Jameson's irony of late capitalism:

He had woken up on his fortieth 'birthday', reciting under his breath, with a kind of resigned horror, lines from T.S. Eliot's poem ['The lovesong of Alfred J Prufrock']: 'I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled' he tried that day to drive Eliot's ghost from his mind by muttering aloud lines from Cavafy's poem: 'Half past twelve. How the time has gone by. Half past twelve. How the years have gone by'. There, with subliminal beauty, without T.S. Eliot's cynicism, the sudden realisation that he was growing older. Oh the horror of it all. (Dangor 2013:140; [emphasis original])

Here Dangor's (1989) voice is ironic in its powerlessness over time, morality and the body, and parodic in its self-mocking literariness. These are also voices or protagonists who in Cavafy's poems, such as 'The glory of the Ptolemies' (p. 35), 'The grave of the grammarian Lysias' (p. 48) or 'The grave of Eurion' (p. 50), conduct their lives according to the requirements of a culture that slowly separates from its roots. This trend follows the fortunes of Hellenism in Cavafy's historical imagination. Those protagonists also capitalise on the space between old and new political orders to reflect on the consequences of their actions. They may be figures on the margins of power as a result of exile, or because of leadership changes in Cavafy's poems 'King Demetrius (p. 26), 'Satrapy' (p. 28), 'Philhellene' (p. 39) or 'The displeasure of the son of Seleucus' (p. 63). In Bitter Fruit, a morally and politically compromised Silas Ali plays a crucial, delicate, covert role that ensures completion of the TRC's final report. His 'reward' - a diplomatic posting to Samara (2001:230) - is surely the equivalent of Cavafy's satrapies!

 

Conclusion

Where Cavafy developed a distinctive idiolect, Small and Dangor, in their early poetry, have both used a sociolect as an idiolect. For Small, recognising and valorising that sociolect in an inhumane society might make its users human, but not necessarily real. The inevitable consequence of Dangor's distinction implicitly expressed during South Africa's interregnum between 'ordinary' and 'extra-ordinary' patois speakers, made his poetic voices from the early 1980s inarticulate if 'ordinary' or unauthentic if 'extra-ordinary'. He seems to have resolved this dilemma by switching to Standard English. In this medium, he and his new 'ordinary' speakers were comfortable and authentic, probably because they were the same people. For Small and Dangor, choices about the means of expression affect the ways they create, affirm and undermine a collective voice that their eye-dialects interpellate as 'coloured' and working class. Cavafy explored the limits of expression and sexual self-expression, and Vos, Small and Dangor have all acknowledged these challenges while operating within different political, literary, sexual and religious settings. Vos and Dangor contended with the challenge of how to express themselves through the translation and adaptation of Cavafy's poetry. In Vos's case, his context - a literal weaving together of literary strands - adds an extra layer of interpretation.

The ways in which a writer signifies 'nonstandardness' may deviate from the content and form of actual users, so that to be recognisable it could be false. Twain, Small and Dangor have all fostered 'eye-dialects', and all have contributed to that misrepresentation and standardisation. According to the Dangor of Bulldozer, Private Voices and Strange Pilgrimages, some of his speakers and voices use inappropriate language and display 'extra-ordinary' knowledge. We know this because in the former he changed the language of native speakers from District Six and Fordsburg so that he could make them say what he thought that they were really thinking and feeling, and to the extent that language enables and limits thought, Dangor clearly implies that patois speakers have limited ability to convert feeling into thought, or to articulate higher order intellectual concerns. This is also an inference to be drawn from Vos's hierarchy of organic-animal coupling to spiritual submission. In Private Voices and Strange Pilgrimages, Dangor retains the earlier literary allusions, but this time through self-consciously literary characters who think in Standard English. Like many of Cavafy's contemporary or autobiographical (not mythological or Hellenic) speakers and protagonists, they are cosmopolitan or worldly yet alienated subjects who form, says Jameson, 'a coexistence of sealed subjective worlds and their peculiar interaction is in reality a passage of ships in the night' (1997:412). Thus, the distance between frustrated lover, flanêur or client, and the object of scopic or physical desire keeps Cavafy in mind. The privacy of these inner voices evokes the title of Dangor's 1992 poetry collection, and suggests that the community that his VA offered was unsatisfactory or unsustainable. To date, Dangor has not commented on his language use in Private Voices and Strange Pilgrimages. Therefore, one cannot confirm that he is now satisfied. For the time being, we can only infer that the change reflects a search for something less unsatisfactory, more appropriate, more 'ordinary' that keeps a different Cavafy in mind.

Phil van Schalkwyk's article whetted my curiosity and encouraged this research. So too, did the 2017 Adam Smallfees in Pniel. I hope this reply generates further research and debate about 'Cavafrikaans' in any language.

 

Acknowledgements

Competing interests

The author declares that no competing interests exist.

Author's contributions

I declare that I am the sole author of this research article.

Ethical consideration

This article followed all ethical standards for carrying out research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.

 

References

Adams, J., 2012, 'Thrill of the chaste: The truth about Gandhi's sex life', Independent, 02 January 2012, viewed 18 July 2017, from http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/thrill-of-the-chaste-the-truth-about-gandhis-sex-life-1937411.html.

Bowdre, P.H. Jr., 1964, 'A study of eye-dialect', PhD thesis, University of Florida.         [ Links ]

Branford, J. & Branford, W. (eds.), 1991, A dictionary of South African English, Oxford University Press, Cape Town.

Buxbaum, L. 2013, 'The only job in which one cannot lie is poetry', Mail and Guardian, 01 September 2013, viewed 27 July 2018, from https://mg.co.za/article/2013-09-01-the-only-job-in-which-one-cannot-lie-is-poetry.

Cavafy, C.P., 1877, 'Second Odyssey', in W Kaiser & C.P. Cavafy (transl.), The official website of the Cavafy Archive, viewed 06 September 2018, from http://www.cavafy.com/poems/content.asp?id=329&cat=4.

Cavafy, C.P., 1989, The complete poems of Cavafy, transl. R. Dalven, Harvest, San Diego, CA.

Cloete, M., 2012, 'Language and politics in the philosophy of Adam Small: Some personal reflections', Tydskrif vir Letterkunde 49(1), viewed 01 September 2016, from http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2012000100010        [ Links ]

Dabydeen, D., 1988, Coolie Odyssey, Dangaroo Press, Coventry.

Dangor, A., 1983, Bulldozer, Staffrider, Johannesburg.

Dangor, A., 1990a, 'Achmat Dangor: Writing and change', Interviewed by Andries Walter Oliphant. Staffrider 9(2), 30-35.         [ Links ]

Dangor, A., 1990b, Z Town Trilogy, Ravan, Johannesburg.

Dangor, A., 1992, Private Voices, COSAW, Johannesburg.

Dangor, A. 1997, 'Kafka's Curse', in Kafka's Curse, pp. 5-142, Kwela, Cape Town.

Dangor, A., 2001, Bitter Fruit, Kwela, Cape Town.

Dangor, A., 2004, 'Another country', The Guardian, 25 September 2004, viewed 14 July 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2004/sep/25/featuresreviews.guardianreview19.

Dangor, A., 2013a, Strange pilgrimages, Picador, Johannesburg.

Dangor, A., 2013b, 'Goodbye, goodnight', in Strange pilgrimages, pp. 55-87, Picador, Johannesburg.

Dangor, A., 2013c, 'A strange pilgrimage', in Strange pilgrimages, pp. 139-147, Picador, Johannesburg.

Dentith, S., 2002, Parody, Routledge, London, viewed 25 April 2017, from http://www-dawsonera-com.ezproxy.uwc.za/readonline/9780203451335.

Durant, J., 2010, Meaning in the media: Discourse, controversy and debate, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Field, R., 2011, 'Coming home, coming out: Achmat Dangor's journeys through myth and Constantin Cavafy', English Studies in Africa 54(1), 103-117. http://doi.org:10.1080/00138398.2011.626190        [ Links ]

Hendricks, F., 2016, 'Die aard en konteks van Kaaps: 'n Hedendaagse, verledetydse en toekomsperspektief', in F. Hendricks & C. Dyers (reds.), Kaaps in fokus, Conference-RAP, Stellenbosch, pp. 1-36.

Jameson, F., 1997, Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic of late capitalism, Duke University Press, Durham.

Keeley, E., 1995, 'An introduction', in E. Keeley (ed.), The essential Cavafy, Ecco Press, New York, viewed 13 August 2018, from http://www.cavafy.com/companion/essays/content.asp?id=17.

Liddell, R., 2002, Cavafy: A critical biography, Duckbacks, London.

Mendelsohn, D., 2003, 'Cavafy and the erotics of the lost', Classical and Modern Literature 23(2), 5-17.         [ Links ]

Nizami, (1188) 2011, The story of Layla and Majnun, in R. Gelpke, Z.I. Khan & O. Safi (transl.), Omega, New Lebanon, NY.

Roilos, P., 2009, C.P. Cavafy: The economics of metonymy, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL.

Scott, J., 1985, Weapons of the weak: Everyday forms of peasant resistance, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.

Small, A., 1987, Kitaar my kruis, HAUM, Pretoria.

Twain, M., (1884) 2003, The adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Penguin, London.

Van Schalkwyk, P., 2014, '"Op de wijze van Kavafis": Die voorbeeld van die digter uit Alexandrië', Literator 35(2), 1-10, https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v35i2.1147        [ Links ]

Viljoen, S., 2013, Richard Rive: A partial biography, Wits University Press, Johannesburg.

Vos, C.J.A. & Human, D. (reds.), 2007, Liefde is the grootste: Oor erotiek en seksualitiet, Protea Boekhuis, Pretoria.

Vos, C.J.A., 2014, Fragmente uit die Ilias, Protea Boekhuis, Pretoria.

Vos, C.J.A., 2015, Voor-bode, Protea Boekhuis, Pretoria.

Willemse, H. 2016, 'Soppangheid vir Kaaps: Mag, kreolisering en Kaapse Afrikaans', in F. Hendricks & C. Dyers (reds.), Kaaps in fokus, Conference-RAP, Stellenbosch, pp. 71-82.

 

 

Correspondence:
Roger Field
rfield@uwc.ac.za

Received: 08 Sept. 2018
Accepted: 11 Mar. 2019
Published: 17 Oct. 2019

 

 

1 . All translations by the author unless indicated otherwise.
2 . Unless stated otherwise, all translations and titles refer to Rae Dalven's translation (Cavafy 1989).
3 . In Vos's collection, they appear in the following order (Cavafy 1989): 'The tobacco-shop window' (p. 78), 'Return' (p. 43), 'Of the shop' (p. 47), 'The city (p. 27), 'An old man' (p. 7), 'Candles' (p. 8), 'The Ides of March' (p. 29), 'Salome' (p. 245), 'Aristoboulos' (p. 89), 'Expecting the barbarians' (p. 18), 'Footsteps' (p. 15), 'Nero's term' (p. 84), 'Voices' (p. 4), 'Hidden things' (p. 268), 'Ithaca' (p. 36).
4 . My thanks to Prof Steward van Wyk of the Department of Afrikaans and Nederlands, U.W.C. for this translation.
5 . Hanover Street was an important economic and cultural hub in District Six. Under 'grand apartheid', almost all of the buildings were demolished and a new street plan was imposed on the area.

^rND^sCloete^nM.^rND^sDangor^nA.^rND^sField^nR.^rND^sMendelsohn^nD.^rND^sVan Schalkwyk^nP^rND^1A01^nMariëtte^svan Graan^rND^1A01^nMariëtte^svan Graan^rND^1A01^nMariëtte^svan Graan

BOOK REVIEW

 

Die komplekse towerkrag van taal en Tolkien

 

 

Mariëtte van Graan

Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Correspondence

 

 

 

Book Title: Die heerser van die ringe: Die kameraadskap van die ring
Author: Tolkien, J.R.R. (vert. Janie Oosthuysen)
ISBN: 978-1-4853-0975-8
Publisher: Protea Boekehuis, 2018, R285*
*Book price at time of review

Ná sy avonture in Die Hobbit keer Bilbo Baalens terug na die Graafskap. Hier lewe hy jare lank rustig met sy geheime skat, die ring wat hy by Ghollum afgeneem het. Op sy eenhonderd-en-elfde verjaarsdag neem hy dramaties afskeid van die Graafskap en laat die ring aan sy jong aangenome erfgenaam, Frodo Baalens, agter. Maar die towenaar Ghandalf ontrafel die groot raaisel: Frodo se ring is dié Ring, gesmee deur die bose Sauron om oor al die ander towerringe in Middel-Aarde te heers. As Sauron die Ring terugkry, sal Middel-Aarde aan sy bose heerskappy onderwerp word. Só begin Frodo se avontuur. Hy slaan op die vlug met die Ring en word deur Sauron se bose onderdane gejag. Frodo neem die grootse taak op om die Ring na die Skeure van Verdoemenis in Mordor te neem om dit te vernietig. Hy word op hierdie dodelike missie vergesel deur sy vriende Sam, Mannetjies en Pippin, Ghandalf, die Mense Boromir en Aragorn (Streder), die elf Legolas en die dwerg Gimli - Die Kameraadskap van die Ring.

Die Kameraadskap van die Ring is die eerste boek in Die Heerser van die Ringe trilogie, en die tweede boek waarmee Oosthuysen haar hand aan die vertaling van J.R.R. Tolkien se epiese fantasie waag. In my resensie van haar eerste Tolkien-vertaling, Die Hobbit (2017), is reeds op vertaalprobleme gewys soos die oneweredige hantering van plek- en eiename en die benoeming van spesies, wat ook in hierdie teks kop uitsteek (Van Graan 2017). Ter wille van bondigheid word hierdie kwessies nie hier herhaal nie. Wel opmerklik is die verandering van 'aardgeeste' in Die Hobbit na 'aardmanne' vir goblins in Die Kameraadskap van die Ring. Hierdie vertaling bied nuwe uitdagings, soos die aanspreekvorme en titels Lord en Lady. Lord word vir verskeie manlike karakters na gelang van die situasie as 'heerser', 'heer' of 'vors' vertaal, wat goed werk. Maar dis 'n gesukkel met Lady, waarskynlik vanweë die ou gebruik in heelwat tale (Afrikaans inkluis) om die vroulike aanspreekvorm na gelang van huwelikstatus te bepaal. Die adellike Lady Arwen word nou sommer 'Juffrou' genoem (bl. 270). Sam spreek die magtige Lady Galadriël, mede-heerser van die woude van Lothlóriën, aan as 'Mevrou' (bl. 430), en noem haar enkele bladsye later 'Vorstin' (bl. 436). Ander steurende woordkeuses sluit 'seintuur' (bl. 138) vir belt en girdle in, en Sam se Engelse tussenwerpsel 'of te not' (bl. 429).

Daar is aan paragraafbreuke en sinsbou gekarring - Tolkien se kenmerkende digte, komplekse skryfstyl word skynbaar op plekke vereenvoudig. Hier en daar is ook gevalle waar stukkies belangrike inligting weggelaat of verkeerd oorgedra word. Ghandalf vertel byvoorbeeld in Engels, '[I] decided that I had no time to return to the Shire. Never did I make a greater mistake!', maar in Afrikaans word dit bloot '[Ek het] besluit ek moet na die Graafskap terugkeer. Dit was my grootste fout ooit!' (bl. 302). Boonop het enkele taalfoute by die taalversorger verbygeglip (soos die sin wat met 'n kleinletter begin op bl. 473).

'n Volledige analise van al die kompleksiteite van Tolkien se oorspronklike teks en Oosthuysen se vertaling kan hoegenaamd nie in die bestek van die resensie gedoen word nie, maar diegene wat so 'n studie wil onderneem, word na Tolkien (1975) se eie 'Guide to the names in The Lord of the Rings' verwys (waarby Oosthuysen wel hou), asook Naudé (2019) se tesis (waarin hy self groot dele van die teks vertaal het).

Oosthuysen se vertaling is egter nie noodwendig op akademiese lesers gemik wat dit vergelykend met die bronteks gaan lees en analiseer nie. Dit is veel eerder vir lesers van fantasie en Tolkien-aanhangers. Die meeste Afrikaanse lesers wat van fantasie hou, is egter gewoond daaraan om fantasie in Engels te lees. Kultusaanhangers van The Lord of the Rings is waarskynlik nie net met Tolkien se boeke bekend nie, maar ook met Peter Jackson se uiters suksesvolle filmtrilogie. Ikoniese reëls uit die eerste film - soos Ghandalf (vertolk deur sir Ian McKellen) se 'You cannot pass!' en 'Fly, you fools', of Galadriël (vertolk deur Cate Blanchett) se 'In the place of the Dark Lord you will have a queen!', voel lomp en selfs verkeerd wanneer 'n mens in Afrikaans lees 'Jy sal nie verbykom nie!', 'Vlug, julle sotte' (bl. 392) of 'In die plek van die Donker Heer sal jy 'n koningin daar stel' (bl. 435).

Tolkien-aanhangers wat sy boeke of die films uit die kop kan opsê, sal waarskynlik wroeg oor hoekom hierdie teks in Afrikaans vertaal is. Gegewe dat fantasie so 'n rariteit in die Afrikaanse letterkunde is, is dit verstaanbaar dat aanhangers van die oorspronklike teks kan voel asof hier nou gekrap word waar dit nie jeuk nie. Dit is ook weliswaar deel van die vertaler se probleem dat daar nog 'n tekort is aan Afrikaanse woordeskat vir hierdie klas magiese wêrelde. Maar hierin lê juis die waarde van Oosthuysen se vertaling. Hierdie boek dra by tot die uitbreiding van so 'n woordeskat, en as dit kommersieel goed vaar, kan dit deure oopmaak vir fantasie in Afrikaans. Dalk sal meer Afrikaanse skrywers die hand daaraan waag. Dalk kan die genre meer lesers wen, wat kan lei tot 'n groter aanvraag na Afrikaanse fantasie, wat weer uitgewers kan aanspoor om meer sulke boeke uit te gee.

Die kritiese leser (veral kultusaanhangers van die oorspronklike teks en akademiese lesers wat vanuit 'n vertalersperspektief lees) kan baie vinnig baie diep in hulle analise van hierdie teks verstrengel raak, en moontlik hierom meer frustrasie as genot uit die boek put. Dit moet egter nie vergeet word watter epiese onderneming dit vir enige vertaler is om Tolkien te vertaal nie. Oosthuysen slaag ten spyte van al die bostaande kwellings baie suksesvol daarin om die towerkrag van Tolkien se wêreld en sy storie aan die leser oor te dra. As jy lus is vir lekker fantasie in Afrikaans, as jy die Engelse boek toeslaan en die films vir 'n wyle kan vergeet, sal jy vinnig meegesleur en ver weggevoer word deur Die Kameraadskap van die Ring.

 

Literatuurverwysings

Naudé, E., 2019, 'ʼn Afrikaanse vertaling van The Lord of the Rings: ʼn Ondersoek na die veelsydigheid en heterogeniteit van Afrikaans', M.A. tesis, Fakulteit Lettere en Sosiale Wetenskappe, Universiteit Stellenbosch.

Tolkien, J.R.R., 1975, 'Guide to the names in The Lord of the Rings', in A Tolkien Compass. http://www.tolkien.ro/text/JRR%20Tolkien%20-%20Guide%20to%20the%20Names%20in%20The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings.pdf.

Van Graan, M., 2017, 'Kan Tolkien se wêreld in Afrikaans verbeel(d) word?', Literator 38(1), a1448. https://doi.org/10.4102.lit.v38i1.1448        [ Links ]

 

 

Correspondence:
Mariëtte van Graan
vgraam@unisa.ac.za

^rND^sVan Graan^nM.,^rND^1A01^nHans^sEster^rND^1A01^nHans^sEster^rND^1A01^nHans^sEster

BOOK REVIEW

 

W.L. van der Merwe daag die dood uit

 

 

Hans Ester

Faculty of the Humanities, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Correspondence

 

 

 

Book Title: Doodmenslik
Author: W.L. van der Merwe
ISBN: 978-1-4853-0895-9
Publisher: Protea Boekhuis, 2018, R170*
*Book price at time of review

Is dit aangenaam of selfs plesierig om gedigte te lees? Miskien is hierdie vraag verkeerd en gaan dit by die lees van poësie in die eerste plek om ander emosies. Wanneer die leser 'n gedigteks begryp, is hierdie oorwinning van die vreemdheid van die teks 'n bevestiging van die geestelike vermoëns van die leser. Helaas, ook hierdie ydelheid is nie die rede waarom 'n mens poësie lees nie. Die wesenlike leesmotivering is 'n vorm van nuuskierigheid na die bron van die verwondering as gevolg van die poëtiese spel met die taal. Poësie ontdek kwaliteite van die taal wat 'n mens nie van die oppervlak van die woorde van elke dag kan aflees nie.

Gedigte lees, is deelname aan die edel spel van die taal, soos Elisabeth Eybers dit geformuleer het. Edel, omdat die taal in hoogstaande gedigte diep gerespekteer word en as medium van singewing funksioneer.

W.L. van der Merwe dra sy verwondering oor die taal aan die leser oor. Sy ernstige taalspel is vir hom die pad na die lewe, nadat die dood die lewe oorval en vermink het. In die gedigte uit hierdie bundel met die kragtige titel, Doodmenslik, is dit keer op keer die dood wat die digter verarm en tot 'n weerwoord dwing. Die verarming deur die dood is intensivering van die lewenservaring. Die digter is 'n beskeie Orfeus, omdat hy weet dat sy skeppende vermoëns beperk is. Nogtans veg hy terug, met die skerpste wapen wat hy besit: die taal. Die woorde van ontsteltenis en rou voeg hulle saam tot 'n nuwe verband, tot verbondenheid wat uitstyg bo ewige afskeid. Voorbeelde van hierdie skeppende verband is die gedigte 'begrafnis', 'grafsteen' en 'die kleur van grys'. Die mees aangrypende is die gedig 'Fuga in swart' wat op die beroemde 'Todesfuge' van die Duitstalige digter Paul Celan voortbou.

Die digter soek na elemente in die werklike wêreld om draer van die oorstyging van die wette van lewe en dood te wees. Vir hierdie verlange bied voëls hulle as simboliese wesens aan. Voëls en ander elemente uit die natuur soos bome, neem die betekenis van verheffing bo die tasbare aan. In hulle sigbare verbeelding van betekenis, is hulle troostend. Met hierdie simbolisering korrespondeer die noodsaak om bestaande voorstellings van God teen die lig te hou, om hulle waarheid en waarde te bepaal. Indringende voorbeelde hiervan is die gedigte 'my godsbegrip', 'en toe was daar God' en die gedig 'reisadvies vir God', waarin God aanbeveel word om vanuit die idilliese gebied van die Duitse rivier Mosel, na Auschwitz te reis.

Vir die digter was (moontlik: is) Nederland 'n nuwe, bekende en sekerlik ook vreemde land. Terwyl Nederland vir Elisabeth Eybers altyd die bedreigende land met sy Nederlandse taal gebly het, waarteen sy haar met poësie in Afrikaans verdedig, is Van der Merwe nuuskierig. Die digter skryf oor Nederlandse eienaardighede vanuit die behoefte om sy ervarings te verstaan. Tot hierdie besondere verskynsels behoort die kommersiële gebruik van seksualiteit, in die besonder die vertoon van geslagsgemeenskap op die verhoog van 'n seksteater, of die skynbare intimiteit met 'n naakte vrou in 'n sogenaamde peep-show in Amsterdam. Dit is beslis nie die enigste verskynsels nie. Die digter laat ook die natuur en die landskap van Nederland toe om húlle besonderheid mee te deel. Van die raakvlak met die Nederlandse natuur, getuig die diep simboliese foto op die omslag van Van der Merwe se bundel, Rangskik groen takkies op verlepte blare, met die verwysing na die eiland Terschelling. Die mooiste uitdrukking van vereenselwiging, is seker die gedig 'de kleur van grijs', wat in Nederlands geskryf is.

Die dooie blare saam met die opdrag van die bundel, 'Vir Lettie, 16-09-1956 - 15-10-2017', gee vanaf die begin aan dat hierdie gedigte met verganklikheid en met dood verbind is. Die beeld van Nederland het ook deel aan die kleur wat die lewe oorheers: grys. Sterker as die opstandige Eybers, naamlik vanuit 'n houding van gelatenheid, assosieer Van der Merwe sy nuwe land, Nederland, en ook die vreeswekkende Noordzee met 'n toon van bewuste aanvaarding van die alomteenwoordige grysheid.

Om hierdie gedigte te lees, is 'n groot verryking. Ook wanneer die klaende, 'grys' grondtoon oorduidelik is en die twisgesprek met die dood invoeling en inspanning van die leser verlang, word die leser met lewensverdieping en wysheid beloon.

 

 

Correspondence:
Hans Ester
J.Ester@glazenkamp.net

^rND^1A01^nRenée^sMarais^rND^1A01^nRenée^sMarais^rND^1A01^nRenée^sMarais

BOOK REVIEW

 

Verdienstelike gids tot die Boeddhisme en meditasie opnuut in Afrikaans uitgegee

 

 

Renée Marais

Department of African Languages, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Correspondence

 

 

 

Book Title: 'n Stil gemoed: 'n Inleiding tot die Boeddhisme en meditasie
Author: Rob Nairn (vertl. Karel Schoeman)
ISBN: 978-1-4853-0967-3
Publisher: Protea Boekhuis, 2018, R150*
*Book price at time of review

Deur die samewerking van twee meesters is 'n Stil gemoed 'n uitsonderlike publikasie. Rob Nairn se Tranquil mind: An introduction to Buddhism and meditation (Nairn 1993) bied 'n helder en toeganklike inleiding tot die Boeddhisme en meditasie; en Karel Schoeman se Afrikaanse vertaling daarvan (1997) is 'n genot om te lees. Protea Boekhuis se besonder mooi heruitgawe (2018) vervul kennelik 'n lesersbehoefte in Afrikaans én bied hulde aan Schoeman, wat een jaar vóór die publikasie van die heruitgawe oorlede is.

Nairn bedank in 1980 uit sy hoogleraarspos in sielkunde aan die Universiteit van Kaapstad en wy hom aan die Boeddhisme toe. Hy deurloop 'n vier jaar lange afsonderingstydperk by die Samye Ling Tibettaanse Sentrum in Skotland en verwerf mettertyd internasionale aansien as akademikus in die Boeddhisme en meditasie (Nairn 2018:72). Tranquil mind slaag uitmuntend in sy tweeledige doel: om die wesenlike beginsels van die Boeddhisme te verduidelik, en om die leser in die kuns van meditasie in te lei.

In sy kort artikel oor hoe hy Tranquil mind in Afrikaans vertaal het, vra Schoeman (1998:10): 'Het iemand eerder in Afrikaans oor die Boeddhisme probeer skryf of praat? Nie sover ek weet nie.' Natuurlik dink letterkundelesers dadelik aan Die ysterkoei moet sweet (Breytenbach 1964), die debuutdigbundel waarmee Breyten Breytenbach die Zen-Boeddhisme aan Afrikaanse lesers bekendgestel het. Maar Schoeman het deels gelyk: in die Afrikaanse kulturele omgewing van die sestigerjare is selfs die Rooms-Katolisisme as 'n bedreiging beskou, wat nog te sê van 'n filosofie soos die Boeddhisme; en selfs vandag is daar steeds min Afrikaanse literatuur oor die Boeddhisme. 'n Stil gemoed vervul hierdie funksie op uitnemende wyse.

Nairn begin met 'n uiteensetting van wat die Boeddhisme is en wat die Boeddha se leer behels. Die Boeddhisme is 'n aantal metodes om só met die verstand en gemoed om te gaan dat die beoefenaar 'n verligte gees sal ontwikkel, en gevolglik innerlike vrede, erbarming en wysheid sal ervaar (Nairn 2018:11). Ná 'n bespreking van die kenmerke van verdraagsaamheid, erbarming en wysheid, onpartydigheid en toevlug, bespreek Nairn die drie prominentste skole van die Boeddhisme, te wete Theravada (die Leer van die Ouderlinge), Mahayana (die Meerdere Draer) en Vajrayana (die Diamantdraer of Tantra).

Die grondbeginsels van die leer wat die historiese Boeddha, Sakjamoeni, 45 jaar lank in Midde-Noord-Indië onderrig het (2500 jaar gelede), behels die Vier Edele Waarhede, die Edele Agtvoudige Weg, dat daar geen self is nie, interafhanklike oorsprong, die Vyf Aggregate, karma en reïnkarnasie, erbarming en die Bodhisattva-ideaal (Nairn 2018:41). Ná 'n bespreking hiervan, fokus Nairn op meditasie - die belangrikste aspek van die Boeddhisme - en bied drie praktiese oefeninge in twee maniere van mediteer: die tradisionele, waar 'n toestand van suiwere aandag bereik word deur op jou asemhaling te fokus, en die alternatiewe manier, waar daar op klank gefokus word.

Erika van Greunen, die uitgewer van Tranquil mind en die persoon wat Schoeman gevra het om die boek in Afrikaans te vertaal, begin haar voorwoord met 'niks is toeval nie', 'n uitspraak wat herhaaldelik in Schoeman se outobiografie voorkom. Schoeman het Tranquil mind toe alreeds met waardering gelees en die Afrikaanse vertaling as 'n uitdaging aanvaar. As Rooms-Katoliek wat 'n jare lange novisiaat deurloop het, was hy vertroud met baie van die beginsels van die Boeddhisme, soos meditasie. Schoeman kon ook (naas ander bronne) gebruik maak van die bestaande Afrikaanse woordeskat van die Rooms-Katolieke Kerk, soos dit in verskeie publikasies en die Kerkwoordeboek (Beraadsliggaam Suid-Afrikaanse Katolieke Biskoppe: Taalkomitee [BSAKBT] 1970) opgeteken is (Schoeman 1998:10-11).

Schoeman bespreek vier begrippe wat sorgvuldige nadenke geverg het om 'n geskikte Afrikaanse vertaalekwivalent te vind. Die eerste is retreat, waarvoor Nederlanders die Franse retraite as leenwoord gebruik. Hy het tereg geoordeel dat die Kerkwoordeboek (BSAKBT 1970) se verafrikaanste 'retrêt' nie inslag sou vind nie, en het dus die frase 'tye van afsondering' gebruik (Schoeman 1998:11).

Schoeman het mind (in die titel) met 'gemoed' vertaal, ondanks die enigsins negatiewe gevoelswaarde van uitdrukkings waarin 'gemoed' voorkom. Op kritiek dat dit 'n 'te Westerse vertaling van die Tibetaanse eweknie' sou wees (Schoeman 1998:11), antwoord Schoeman dat hy uit Engels vertaal het, en dat Nairn in sy Engelse bronteks telkens mind gebruik het vir 'n begrip waarvoor daar (volgens Nairn) veertien Tibettaanse woorde bestaan. Naas 'gemoed', gebruik Schoeman ook 'gees' en 'verstand'.

Mindful het onlangs sy weg na Afrikaans gevind as oorlewingstrategie in ons gejaagde samelewing. Schoeman vertaal dit gepas met 'indagtig', wat sowel 'inkeer' as 'dink' oproep. Compassion word in Afrikaans 'erbarming', wat Schoeman (1998:13) positief met Erbarme dich uit Bach se Matteuspassie assosieer.

'Op sy manier is vertaal uiteindelik amper net so subjektief en persoonlik soos skryf', verklaar Schoeman (1998:13). Nairn se 'verbasend helder' skryfstyl (Schoeman, 1998:10) en Schoeman se keurige, idiomatiese vertaling maak 'n Stil gemoed 'n aanwins vir enige leser wat in die Boeddhisme, meditasie, indagtigheid en die werk van Karel Schoeman belangstel.

 

Literatuurverwysings

Beraadsliggaam Suid-Afrikaanse Katolieke Biskoppe: Taalkomitee, 1970, Kerkwoordeboek, Katolieke Afrikanersentrum, Pretoria.

Breytenbach, B., 1964, Die ysterkoei moet sweet, APB Publishers and Booksellers, Johannesburg.

Nairn, R., 1993, Tranquil mind: An introduction to Buddhism and meditation, Carrefour/Dragon Publications, Cape Town.

Nairn, R., 1997, 'n Stil gemoed: 'n Inleiding tot die Boeddhisme en meditasie, vertl. K. Schoeman, Protea Boekhuis, Pretoria.

Schoeman, K., 1998, ''n Stil gemoed: Gedagtes oor 'n vertaling', Fragmente: Tydskrif vir Filosofie en Kultuurkritiek 2, 10-13.         [ Links ]

 

 

Correspondence:
Renée Marais
renee.marais@up.ac.za

^rND^sSchoeman^nK.^rND^1A01^nWilliam^sKelleher^rND^1A01^nWilliam^sKelleher^rND^1A01^nWilliam^sKelleher

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

 

Narrative materiality and practice: A study of born-free negotiation of periphery and centre

 

 

William Kelleher

Foundation Freestanding Postdoctoral Fellow, Unit for Academic Literacy, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

This article explores a small story narrative, the community of practice and the orientations of a group of 'born-free' participants as these interact with the material discourses of the Gautrain station in the business district of Sandton in the Gauteng, South Africa. 'Born frees' are young people born after the end of Apartheid. They are of interest in social studies because of the enormous demographic, familial and educational changes they represent. The discussion of the article concerns, firstly, the genre of account, and the relation between story and trajectory. Trajectory and the spatial coordinates of the story are introduced to understand what Sandton and its material discourses represent for these participants. The Gautrain station is then approached through geosemiotics. Thirdly, the negotiation of social space implicit in the co-construction of the small story is analysed through axes of intersubjectivity applied to participant orientation and narrativisation. Methodologically, this article follows a new narrative turn that sees narrative as practice. It seeks to introduce materiality to analysis. As storytelling, from this perspective, is embedded within physically co-present texts, signs and representations, the methodology was to map samples of participant talk against a site. This allowed participant stories, isolated using qualitative audio annotation, to be situated in the exact place of their telling, and for analysis to include artefacts of the semiotic landscape, which is to say textual or visual ensembles such as notices, posters and billboards that are displayed in urban public space and that represent a circulation of wider discourses.

Keywords: Born frees; narrative; small stories; community of practice; trajectory; geosemiotics; axes of intersubjectivity.


 

 

Introduction

The principal assertion of this article is that a move from periphery to centre, in this case from the townships around Pretoria where average familial income can be ZAR 4000.00 per month (US$ 278.00) to a centric business district like Sandton, where an entry-level attorney can earn ZAR 50 000.00 per month (US$ 3500.00), involves a negotiation of practice and identity. This negotiation can be captured in the narratives, trajectories and interactions of participants as they interplay with what, following the material ethnography of Stroud and Mpendukana (2009), we could call material discourses. The study focuses on narrative, and on interactional narrative practice, because stories are fundamentally motivated constructions, a locus of significant identity work.

The participants whose story we will be looking at are 'born frees': students and youth who were born 'free' of Apartheid following the democratic transition of 1994. An investigation of youth, the dynamics of their insertion into civil society and the space of the institution is important. Not only does this shed light on the result of societal change in South Africa over the past decades, but it also illuminates the future of the country, its modernity, and what will be the values, practices and beliefs that will guide present generations. Indeed, where South Africa presents interest, as a case study, is in its 20-year-old recovery from the devastating social engineering of Apartheid, and the ways in which youth navigate the declivities between urban periphery and centre, between access and gatekeeping at tertiary education institutions and, indeed, between all of the other markers of cultural capital that distinguish, assign and betray.

Analysis will follow the small stories movement. De Fina and Georgakopoulou (2008) refer to small stories as a new narrative turn that centres on practice and on the co-construction of stories within a changing configuration of narrative research (Bamberg 2007). Conceptually, what is at issue is not only the referential content of a story and what it means for the teller or the listener, but also telling roles, orientations and alignments, and what telling accomplishes interactionally. This therefore sees storytelling as caught up in both local processes such as group constitution and maintenance, as in wider social processes and discourses. Here, the participant story we will be looking at is part of a movement from township school, to university, to internship at a Sandton law firm. It is a transition that operates at the level of these born-free participants' integration within a new community of practice, that of law student, which is site-specific. Their transition, in other words, is a material one as much as it is a biographic and socio-historic one.

The aims and objectives of this article are therefore to conduct a small story analysis of data collected with born-free participants, and to trace this against the materiality of a site.

 

Research design, participants and analytic framework

The data presented here are part of a wider, site-based, ethnography that explored the material aspects of narrative interaction. Specifically, the methodology relied on initial interviews with participants to establish their familial situation, language repertoires and socio-economic information. These initial interviews were complemented with outings by participants to investigate their relation to the materiality of the research site. These outings were recorded by the participants using mp3 recorders whose date and time stamps were synchronised with global positioning system (GPS) logs so as to be able to plot their physical trajectories using QGIS (https://www.qgis.org/en/site/index.html). To this information were added the field notes of the site and photographs (also GPS localised) of the semiotic artefacts of the site. It is a methodology that could perhaps be termed 'geomapped linguistic ethnography'. In total, a corpus of 356 small stories was collected with 76 direct and 230 indirect participants in 111 locations.

The setting of this study is a place of finance and consumption, Sandton. It is an unusual site in the country, for the wealth that it concentrates, and the conditions of this concentration. Sandton is a district in the Gauteng, a second Central Business District (CBD), for Johannesburg, that hosts most major corporate head offices, capital markets, retail brand outlets, a huge array of office and retail space, and which is situated at an apex position with respect to other sites of gross value added (GVA) in Gauteng, such as Fourways or Centurion. The story that is presented here comes from two of the direct participants in the study and has been chosen because of the longitudinal nature of the research relationship with these participants (3 years) and because of the nature of their trajectories to Sandton. These trajectories are biographic, professional and also linguistic in nature, with passage from sites of language contact to Sandton, which has an overt monolingual English policy.

The townships of Hammanskraal and of Mamelodi, from where these participants originate, are spaces in which the dominant language is Sepitori, a regional contact form of Setswana and Sesotho sa Leboa that also sometimes contains elements of Afrikaans or English (see Ditsele & Mann 2014). A township is an urban agglomeration. Technically speaking Sandton also straddles township lines, but in South Africa, the term is used to designate those predominantly informal, poorly serviced and deliberately isolated areas that were racially demarcated under the Group Areas Act and used as dormitories for the city centre. One study that is particularly illustrative of what townships represent is offered by Dlamini (2009) who poses the question of how one can be nostalgic of the conditions of one's growing up, while still recognising their rampant inequality.

The two participants who collected the data we will be looking at are law students at the University of Pretoria who will be affecting their internship in Sandton and volunteered for this research project as a way of reflecting on this upcoming move. Nono is a female student and Mohau is a male student. They are joined in the research outing by two other female students Rindzela and Afrika. During term time, they reside in the student neighbourhood of Hatfield, relying on National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)1 loans and aids, in addition to bursaries, to finance their study and residential costs. They are engaged students, who have received their financing in light of the excellence of their school results and who are aware of their status and their nascent community of practice, and who think in a serious and sensitive way about the debates of their time, such as the need for free education (the #FeesMustFall movement2). Their narrative interactions, discussed below, throw up the agency of this country's students. In this sense, our discussion can be read off against other studies into South African youth demographics, behaviour and trends (see Boyce 2010; Jacobs & Payet 2013; Mattes 2012; Seekings 2013), and the marked pessimism of some of these studies (see especially Kane-Berman 2015) with respect to structural determinism.

Concerning analysis, the principal analytic framework, as noted, comes from the small stories movement within narrative research that focuses on the interactional co-construction of stories. This broad framework will be applied to the data in three ways. Firstly, there is the relation of story to participant biography and trajectory that will need to be explored. Apartheid was a project that superposed and engineered the spatial as well as the social and the material. Participant trajectories from township to Sandton can thus be approached spatially, through their sites and locations, which can be referred to as their coordinates. De Fina (2009b) notes that story coordinates may be understood in terms of their semiotisation, how they are selected, represented and endowed with indexical signification within narratives. Further, tellers use linguistic strategies to invest these coordinates and their stories with social and individual meaning as well as to index subject positions. These two processes of semiotisation and linguistic investment of meaning and position can, additionally, be understood with respect to certain kinds of narrative discourse.

Secondly, we need to return to the interactional co-construction of participant data and to the nexus of practice which informs it. Scollon (2001) indicates that when exploring a nexus of practice, the focus must be on social action, to which is pertinent a consideration of habitus, positioning, shared meanings, mediational means and socio-historic movements. Geosemiotics (Scollon & Scollon 2003) is a framework for investigating this nexus. Geosemiotics looks at signs, or textual or visual ensembles, in light of four cycles of meaning that are habitus, or social actor, interaction order, visual semiotics and place semiotics. Social actor and interaction order direct analysis towards the expression of cultural values and towards the norms governing interaction. Visual semiotics and place semiotics are concerned with unpicking the multimodal meaning of signs in public space. For instance, in the data that are discussed below, the articulation of corporate discourse in the space of the site, and the multimodal means that are employed, such as the represented participants, their gestures and the slogans that accompany them, can be seen to be closely linked to participant interactions. Together, multimodal artefacts form what is termed a semiotic landscape, in which discourse is given material expression in notices, billboards, posters and other objects displayed publicly.

Thirdly, and finally, a negotiation of periphery and centre can be analysed using Bucholtz and Hall's tactics of intersubjectivity (Bucholtz & Hall 2004a, 2004b, 2005) which are composed of three axes: similarity or difference, genuineness or artifice and authority or delegitimacy. The first of these axes, similarity and difference, or adequation and distinction, addresses markedness, and the pursuit, or subversion of, 'socially recognised sameness' (Bucholtz & Hall 2004b:383). Through marked forms of language, a speaker nears or distances him or herself from a category that is seen as either preferential or dispreferential. Genuineness and artifice, or authentication and denaturalisation, the second axis, critiques essentialist conceptions of identity and moves for an investigation of context, practice and performance. On the one hand, this implies studying 'the processes by which authenticity is claimed, imposed or perceived', and the, 'untruth, pretence, and imposture in identity positioning' (Bucholtz & Hall 2004a:498). On the other hand, it involves 'how assumptions regarding the seamlessness of identity can be disrupted' (Bucholtz & Hall 2005:601). The third axis of authorisation and illegitimation addresses ideology and institutional power and 'the ways in which identities are dismissed, censored, or simply ignored' (Bucholtz & Hall 2005:603).

Before turning to an exploration of trajectory, semiotics of place and axes of intersubjectivity, it is necessary to emphasise that this is qualitative research, concerned not with prescribing generalisable predictions of behaviour but rather with uncovering possible, local, ethnographic interpretations. Further, no internal coherence is claimed for this analysis nor for the data. Bucholtz and Hall capture this contingency, situatedness and partialness of data in their framework for sociocultural linguistic approaches (Bucholtz & Hall 2005).

 

An account and its trajectory

The discussion that follows concerns an account. Accounts are told to justify, mitigate or repair a participant's alignment, or in response to evaluative questions (De Fina 2009a:240). Accounts are a genre of small stories that are therefore very useful in exploring participant positioning and negotiation of social configurations such as those present in institutions and other spaces associated with top-down discourses. The focus of this section is on the trajectory, both physical and biographical, that the participants of this study have effected from the townships of Hammanskraal and Mamelodi to the University of Pretoria in Hatfield, and then to the centric business district of Sandton where they will be doing their internship as law students. The changing materialities of this trajectory can here be approached, following De Fina (2009b), in terms of the coordinates of this movement from periphery to centre. We will look first at the storied world of the account, before exploring the linguistic strategies of the storytelling world and then pertinent narrative discourses.

In Box 1, in the storied world, the cashier in Hatfield who issued the group's tickets is heard to mutter that there is a problem. In the storytelling world, the participants are prevented from leaving the Sandton station because one of their group, Rindzela, has a ticket that no longer has any money loaded on it. They approach the cashier at Sandton to explain their case and obtain a means of exiting the station. The cashier and Mohau refer to 'multiple' tickets in terms of the fact that the Gautrain tickets are electronic but issued on a pay-per-ride basis, which means that often, a passenger has more than one ticket, some of which may have money loaded, others of which may be empty.

Box 1 is transcribed with a simple notation (see De Fina & Georgakopoulou 2015) where bold shows raised voice, pauses are marked with ellipses, arrows mark shifts in intonation and square brackets indicate overlap. Timings in round brackets indicate longer pauses between turns.

The account of the cashier in Hatfield is given at turn (2) by Rindzela, but then orientated to by Mohau, the male student at turn (9) and then again at turn (25) to explain a possible cause of the problem with the ticket. There is a negotiation of telling rights, because Mohau, as spokesperson for the group, takes up Rindzela's initial story. The sites and movement within this story can first be looked at in the orientation of the narrative - the section where the teller situates the action (Labov 1972:364). This orientation concerns the cashier in the Hatfield Gautrain station near the University of Pretoria. The key coordinates are therefore Hatfield and Sandton, and, subjacent to these, the townships of Hammanskraal and Mamelodi. If we turn to Figure 1, which reproduces a map of Gauteng where darker grey indicates higher percentages of tertiary education, the exclusion of these townships from access to professionalising education is strikingly obvious. The higher concentrations of tertiary education achievement run in a corridor that runs obliquely from South East Pretoria (the node in the North) to North West Johannesburg. Given South Africa's history, this same corridor indicates socio-economic and cultural capital, and material conditions such as provision of services, formality of housing and quality of foodstuffs.

Within the trajectory of these students from township to university to Sandton, Hatfield is already a marker of aspiration and initial success. Coming from Hatfield means that one is a student, undergoing professionalisation, with prospects of employment and of financial independence. It should also be noted that the Hatfield station reproduces many of the institutional communication and discourses that one can find at the Sandton station. In this case, the voyage from Hatfield to Sandton is a change in place, but within a reticular discourse that englobes and channels identity and representation. This then adds to our understanding of the linguistic strategies that are used to index social meaning and subjective position (De Fina 2009b). The key linguistic strategy here must be the use of English, both between the members of the group and between them and the cashier. In addition, this is an English that is in a standard register and marked with full politeness formulas (see turn [9]). What is being indexed here, like the Hatfield station itself, is a form of negotiation, or navigation (see Vigh 2009), of social space, that already involves a move from periphery to centre.

This navigation takes place at a group as well as an individual level. These students are members of a community of practice, which is 'an aggregate of people who come together around mutual engagement in an endeavour. Ways of doing things, ways of talking, beliefs, values, power relations - in short, practices - emerge in the course of this mutual endeavour' (Eckert & McConnell-Ginet 1992:464). In class, these students are learning about rights and due process, and it is this that is perhaps coming across at many points in the transcripts. They are both aware of, and orient actively to, their identity of students who are beginning to master a rhetoric and a discourse of power and institutional functioning. In communities of practice, stories are tied to group maintenance, because they are 'intertextually and dialogically linked, co-constructed spatiotemporal worlds of shared past, future, and hypothetical events' (Georgakopoulou 2005:165). Mohau and Nono's group is a nascent and provisional one, in that they have been thrown together by their studies. This research outing is an opportunity for a sharing and a co-construction of narrativised events. The account in Box 1, for instance, is told by Rindzela to mitigate the situation with her card. It is then retold by Mahau in a positioning gambit (see Bamberg 1997, 2008) to support the students' claim that the situation is not their fault (turn [31]).

To conclude, it is necessary to pose the question of the place that this story has in a certain narrative domain (De Fina 2009b:112). In the present case, one could explore stories of student success and overcoming of generational inequality following the end of Apartheid. These were very pertinent to state communication at the time of data collection and to the discourses that surround decoloniality and the #feesmustfall movement. Space, and geographic movement, as shown graphically in Figure 1, is a signifier of aspiration in these discourses where the children of parents who grew up under Apartheid leave the periphery to enter an urbanised civil society. The participants, in the first section of the discussion, have been seen to represent narrative discourses such as these in their own biographies, and in the process to have negotiated storytelling rights, questions of gender and of appurtenance to a community of practice.

 

Materiality and the Sandton Gautrain station

In this next section, what is in question is the materiality of the Sandton Gautrain station, the nexus of practice that it shapes and constrains through its architecture and the artefacts of its semiotic landscape. We noted above that geosemiotics (Scollon & Scollon 2003) is a means of analysing the social actors, interactions and semiotic artefacts that are pertinent to this site. To operationalise a geosemiotic framework, it is necessary to give stories physicality, a location. In the previous section, we looked at this in terms of trajectory; here, we will be looking at the site itself. Figure 2 is a close-up of the map shown in Figure 1. The dark star indicates the location of the account given in Box 1, at the Gautrain station, with respect to the building footprint of Sandton Central as a whole. Localisation of storied interaction is not new; Sacks (1986), for instance, was concerned to situate both the events that gave rise to a story and the conditions of its telling. However, what changes here is the ability to pinpoint this for both participant and researcher, and for the researcher to be able to come back to the site, take notes and photographs and explore the nexus of practice.

The Gautrain station has the primary task of directing and distinguishing pedestrian traffic from the subterranean railway to the ground-level exit. One can think here about Thurlow and Jaworski's (2017) study of airport space. It does this through a series of juxtaposed escalators bolted up against a central vertical shaft. The general outlay is white veneer against brutalist concrete. Constructed by a French company, Bouygues, it bears similarities to the Train Grande Vitesse network in France. The high price of a ticket [approximately ZAR 80.00 (US$ 6.00) single fare from Pretoria to Sandton) makes this train almost triple the price of a joint taxi ride, and reserves this mode of transport for the Gauteng's middle- and high-income commuter. However, the Sandton stop is also on the way to downtown Johannesburg and in the trains, though not at the station, there is a more heterogeneous social composition. The confines of the station, and its verticality, reinforce the sensation of a tight haptic space and a lack of time. Gautrains run infrequently, sometimes only twice an hour, and therefore, commuters are generally aware of time wastage. The configuration of the haptic space also advantages institutional advertisers, who dispose billboards that are almost inescapably visible. One of these billboards, photographed at the time of data collection, is given in Figure 3.

 

 

This artefact shows the awareness by institutional advertisers of the haptic and social space of the station. The represented participant is cool and smiling with eyes downturned to his right. This gaze contrasts with the interactional order of the billboard's location, and sets up a vector to indicate something acquired real (see Kress & Van Leeuwen 1996). The colours of the billboard follow this vector. The information relative to Vodacom, the telephony operator, is in red, on the left, in the 'given' space of the billboard. The represented participant is on the right, in grey and white, in the 'new'. The overt message directly concerns the needs of commuters and indicates the joint project by Gautrain and Vodacom to provide telephony coverage in the Gautrain stations. That the represented participant should be young, black, dynamic and dressed for a good office job, and that he should be accompanied by a slogan that reads 'Change the Game', brings this advertisement into line with Nono and Mohau's community of practice. They, like him, wish to make their mark, take a stand and change the ways in which they can access professional employment. There is therefore a parallelism between the community of practice and the discourse of the artefact.

As Stroud and Mpendukana (2009) indicate, artefacts are moments in a circulation of discourses. Further aspects of this circulation that need to be taken into account are the institutional weight of advertisers, operators and station personnel. This can be appreciated in the fabrication and emplacement of the billboard, which is an example of top-down discourse that is isolated and protected from interaction. It would be impossible, for instance, to graffiti or write on this artefact both because of its remove from transiting pedestrians, but also because it is surveyed by up to 10 security personnel who move around on the mezzanine floor. The institutional weight is also found in the conditions of interaction that apply to the storytelling of Box 1. Mohau must speak to the cashier through bulletproof glass and under the gaze of a security guard that stands next to this window. In fact, one of the reasons that there is a negotiation of telling rights is that only one participant can be at the cashier's window at a time.

In the audio recording following Box 1, the station intercom can be heard repeating the following message, 'Hello dear customers, please remember to tag into and out of any Gautrain paid area, if you don't do this you will be charged for being there and you will become liable for prosecution'. It is in many ways against this security controlled, institutional, material space that the account in Box 1 is being told. Its objective, as noted, is to position these students with respect to institutional discourse. Their account of a problem experienced in Hatfield absolves the participants of responsibility for their ticket. The security-orientated aspect of discourses at the Sandton Gautrain modifies the parallels we have discussed between the participants' community of practice and the artefact of Figure 3. These participants are training to become attorneys and advocates, who will occupy a specific place in the professional landscape of Sandton. They will become the mouthpieces of corporate actors before the courts and other instances of South Africa's neoliberal and hierarchised society. They will be on the side of security measures, not against them. But to explore the complexity of their negotiation of these material discourses, we must turn to their evaluation of the events of Box 1 and their orientation to the conditions of its telling.

 

Negotiation of centre: Axes of intersubjectivity

Just as the group is about to admit defeat, align with the cashier and pay the penalty necessary to leave the Gautrain station, Nono sees that, in fact, Rindzela did have another prepaid ticket in her bag. The account of Box 1 reveals itself as an interactional gambit. The talk that follows is transcribed in Box 2.

Box 2 serves as evaluation both of the story told by Mohau to the cashier, and also of the preceding situation concerning Rindzela's ticket. The different members of the group orient to the events in different ways. We can frame analysis of these orientations according to the axes of intersubjectivity proposed by Bucholtz and Hall (2004a, 2004b, 2005): similarity or difference, genuineness or artifice and authority or deligitimacy. A first point to note is that this orientation is framed explicitly in terms of their community of practice by Afrika and Mohau at turns (19) and (20). This can be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand, it is a marker of 'sameness' in that the reasons for the cohesion of the group are clearly emphasised. It can also be analysed as a bid for legitimacy, or authorisation. As lawyers, the space, and materiality, of Sandton, as discussed in the previous sections, accords much more with their biographic trajectory. However, finally, there is also a respect in which these students are not yet lawyers. They still need to pass their final exams, be admitted to articles and be registered. To what extent therefore do the interactions of Boxes 1 and 2 serve as a rupture, or a denaturalisation, of this nascent identity?

The power of the institution to delegitimate can be seen in the fact that the cashier is absolutely not convinced by the students' arguments, nor by their account. She refuses to call Hatfield and insists that they pay the amount necessary to leave the station. This institutional attitude is picked up in Box 2 in Nono's turn (5), 'we almost got killed for this'. In a similar way, Mohau himself admits (turn [12]) that he could have 'goofed up' his performance as a defender of rights. However, he is quick to emphasise the genuineness of his behaviour with reference to management generally (turn [24]) and to this event in particular (turn [20]). Rindzela's orientation to the events is more complex. On the one hand, she is concerned to emphasise that her mistake was a genuine one, the repetition of 'I swear' at turn (3). On the other hand, she makes light of the institutional consequences of the mix-up with laughter at turns (6) and (8) and a sardonic characterisation of her acts at turn (40) where she 'calms down' the personnel. She is also responsible for another episode of confusion when she throws away a ticket that had an expired ZAR 70.00 (US$ 5.00) on it (turns [30]-[45]).

Turning back to the materiality of the station and its artefacts, the orientations of these students as transcribed in Box 2 again nuance the parallels between discourse and narrative interaction. Their stories and evaluations do match both the 'Change the Game' slogan of the billboard and the institutional weight of the discourses that circulate, but this matching takes place within their community of practice that here gains in solidity and cohesion. The events of Boxes 1 and 2 are in the process of becoming shared stories, stories that will be shared by the group and inform subsequent interpretative viewpoints (see Georgakopoulou 2006:127) in the context of future retellings and transpositions of this story. Interpretative viewpoints concern how a participant uses narrativised prior knowledge to construct his or her subsequent interactions. This narrativisation can be seen in the fact that the speakers of Box 2 are characterising themselves and in so doing changing their footing in the situation of interaction. It is the case in Afrika's assertion that she felt like a lawyer (turn [19]), but it is also the reason for her attribution of direct speech to the personnel in turn (22). Use of direct speech is an indication of employment of the insertion of events into story lines. She introduces the direct speech at (22) with the quotative 'like', 'like< hhh () like bad customers'. Mohau also characterises his resistance to the situation in a similar way at turn (20) using 'like' as both focaliser and quotative, 'and I was like he::ll () no:: () [laughter] we we doing this () like'.

This evaluation of experience through narrativisation brings out another level at which the transcripts of the participants can be read against the material discourses of the environing space. In characterisation, if not completely in the situation of interaction, Mohau does 'change the game'. Navigation of practice and discourse occurs at both the level of the storied world and at the level of the situation of interaction with changes in footing by participants as they near or distance themselves through narrativisation strategies.

 

Conclusion

This article has investigated the negotiation of periphery and centre of a group of born-free university students. The central focus has been on how this negotiation could be studied in the narrative interactions of participants, and through the interplay between these and material discourses. The structuring axis for the investigation has been the emphasis, brought by the small stories approach to narrative, on telling as practice and on the responsiveness of the storied world to the contours of the storytelling world. This emphasis was translated, firstly, in a concern to map the trajectory of participant stories both geographically and biographically. Secondly, it prompted an exploration of the material discourses pertinent to the situation of interaction. Finally, it led to a consideration of the identity work being accomplished by the participants.

By mapping participant stories, we have been able to better understand the coordinates of the account that the participants co-constructed and the indexicality of these coordinates. In exploring the material discourses of the site in which the story was told, we have been better able to appreciate the articulation of institutional discourses and the orientation of participants towards those discourses. In considering the identity work being accomplished by participants, we have seen how important narrativisation can be to community of practice. The discussion has highlighted the points of intersection of narrative research, geosemiotic analysis of artefacts of the semiotic landscape and the axes of intersubjectivity pertinent to interlocutor orientation and evaluation. The telling of stories, and the evaluation thereof, allows members of a group to navigate the discourses and practices implied by their changing position in social and material space.

 

Acknowledgements

Sincere thanks go to the participants to this research and to structures such as the Sandton City Mall, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the Sandton Convention Centre as well as Johannesburg City.

Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Author's contributions

I am the sole author of this article.

Ethical consideration

Data were collected in the context of a doctoral project with the University of the Witwatersrand (ethics clearance number H15/07/23).

Funding

The research presented was funded through Oppenheimer Memorial Trust and National Research Foundation Freestanding Doctoral awards. Currently, the author benefits from a National Research Foundation Freestanding Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.

 

References

Bamberg, M., 1997, 'Positioning between structure and performance', Journal of Narrative and Life History 7(1-4), 335-342. https://doi.org/10.1075/jnlh.7.42pos        [ Links ]

Bamberg, M. (ed.), 2007, Narrative - State of the art, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia.

Bamberg, M., 2008, 'Twice-told tales: Small story analysis and the process of identity formation', in T. Sugiman, K.J. Gergen, W. Wagner & Y. Yamada (eds.), Meaning in action: Constructions, narratives, and representations, pp. 183-222, Springer, Japan.

Boyce, G., 2010, 'Youth voices in South Africa: Echoes in the age of hope', in B. Roberts, M.W. Kivilu & Y.D. Davids (eds.), South African social attitudes: The 2nd Report, pp. 87-104, HSRC Press, Pretoria.

Bucholtz, M. & Hall, K., 2004a, 'Theorising identity in language and sexuality research', Language in Society 33(4), 469-515. https://doi.org/10.1017/S004740450044021        [ Links ]

Bucholtz, M. & Hall, K., 2004b, 'Language and identity', in A. Duranti (ed.), A companion to linguistic anthropology, pp. 369-394, Blackwell, Oxford.

Bucholtz, M. & Hall, K., 2005, 'Identity and interaction: A sociocultural linguistic approach', Discourse Studies 7(4-5), 585-614. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445605054407        [ Links ]

De Fina, A., 2009a, 'Narratives in interview - The case of accounts (for an interactional approach to narrative genres)', Narrative Inquiry 19(2), 233-258. https://doi.org/10.1075/ni.19.2.03def        [ Links ]

De Fina, A., 2009b, 'From space to spatialization in narrative studies', in J. Collins, S. Slembrouck & M. Baynham (eds.), Globalization and language in contact: Scale, migration and communicative practices, pp. 109-129, Continuum, London and New York.

De Fina, A. & Georgakopoulou, A., 2008, 'Analysing narratives as practices', Qualitative Research 8(3), 379-387. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794106093634        [ Links ]

De Fina, A. & Georgakopoulou, A. (eds.), 2015, The handbook of narrative analysis, Wiley Blackwell, Oxford.

Ditsele, T. & Mann, C.C., 2014, 'Language contact in African urban settings: The case of Sepitori in Tshwane', South African Journal of African Languages 34(2), 150-165. https://doi.org/10.1080/02572117.2014.997052        [ Links ]

Dlamini, J., 2009, Native Nostalgia, Jacana, Johannesburg.

Eckert, P. & McConnell-Ginet, S., 1992, 'Think practically and look locally: Language and gender as community based practice', Annual Review of Anthropology 1992(21), 461-90. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.21.100192.002333        [ Links ]

Georgakopoulou, A., 2005, 'Styling men and masculinities: Interactional and identity aspects at work', Language in Society 34(2), 163-184. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404505050074        [ Links ]

Georgakopoulou, A., 2006, 'Thinking big with small stories in narrative and identity analysis', Narrative Inquiry 16(1), 122-130. https://doi.org/10.1075/ni.16.1.16geo        [ Links ]

Jacobs, M. & Payet, J-P., 2013, 'Les mondes juvéniles d'une génération née libre: Dynamiques de déracialisation chez les adolescents des ex-townships scolarisés dans l'Afrique du Sud (Johannesburg) post-Apartheid', Presses de Sciences Po (P.F.N.S.P.) (66), 3-20. https://doi.org/10.3917/autr.066.0003        [ Links ]

Kane-Berman, J., 2015, Born free but still in chains: South Africa's first post-apartheid generation, South African Institute of Race Relations, Johannesburg.

Kress, G. & Van Leeuwen, T., 2006, Reading images: The grammar of visual design, Routledge, London and New York.

Labov, W., 1972, Language in the inner city, University of Pennsylvania Press, Pennsylvania, PA.

Mattes, R., 2012, 'The "born frees": The prospects for generational change in post-apartheid South Africa', Australian Journal of Political Science 47(1), 133-153. https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2011.643166        [ Links ]

Sacks, H., (1986), 'Some considerations of a story told in ordinary conversations', Poetics 15, 127-138. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(86)90036-7        [ Links ]

Scollon, R., 2001, Mediated discourse [the nexus of practice], Routledge, London and New York.

Scollon, R. & Scollon, S.W., 2003, Discourses in place: Language in the material world, Routledge, London and New York.

Seekings, J., 2013, 'The social and political implications of demographic change in post-Apartheid South Africa', The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 652(1), 70-86. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716213508265        [ Links ]

Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), 2011, Census, Statistics South Africa, Pretoria.

Stroud, C. & Mpendukana, S., 2009, 'Towards a material ethnography of linguistic landscape: Multilingualism, mobility and space in a South African township', Journal of Sociolinguistics 13(3), 363-386. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2009.00410.x        [ Links ]

Thurlow, C. & Jaworski, A., 2017, 'Word-things and thing-words: the transmodal production of privilege and status', in J.R. Cavanaugh & S. Shankar (eds.), Language and materiality: ethnographic and theoretical explorations, pp. 185-203, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Vigh, H., 2009, 'Motion squared: A second look at the concept of social navigation', Anthropological theory 9(4), 419-438. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463499609356044        [ Links ]

 

 

Correspondence:
William Kelleher
william.kelleher@up.ac.za

Received: 15 Nov. 2018
Accepted: 18 June 2019
Published: 29 Aug. 2019

 

 

1 . NSFAS or the National Student Financial Aid Scheme is the governmental service that supports students' tertiary studies.
2 . #FeesMustFall was the hashtag for a series of student-led protests calling for fee reduction or annulment, and more inclusive support strategies in the tertiary education sector in South Africa from 2015. The movement is strongly aligned with decolonisation as this affects teaching, such as in language policy or admissions.

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License