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Showing posts from January, 2016

Marlene van Niekerk - a tale of transmission, disappearance, and utterance, of writing as it hovers at the edge of language, trafficking with the ephemeral and the unreliable; challenging the primacy of the written text through a compelling reflection on flow and interference, rhythms and non-origin. A tale of listening as the rebeginning of writing

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Marlene van Niekerk,The Swan Whisperer: An Inaugural Lecture, Trans. by Marius Swart and the authorSylph Editions, 2015.

The Swan Whisperer by Marlene van Niekerk is the literary equivalent of an impossible space – that is, this 40-page sewn paperback, lush with illustrations by fellow South African, famed artist William Kentridge, contains a tale much larger than its size would suggest. It begins modestly. Subtitled An Inaugural Lecture, van Niekerk opens with a series of questions for her imagined audience:
“What does one teach when one is a teacher of Creative Writing? The true? The good? The beautiful? Should one teach criticism, fantasy, or faith? What is the use of literature? What is its place on the greater canvas of human endeavours? And perhaps I should also ask: Can a story offer consolation?”
Voluminous texts have been penned to examine questions such as these, and yet within the 18 pages that lie ahead once the illustrations have been accounted for, is our esteemed profes…