A.k.a. Breyten Breytenbach: critical approaches to his writings and paintings, J.L. Coullie and J.U. Jacobs, eds. : book review

Vorster, A.F. (2005) A.k.a. Breyten Breytenbach: critical approaches to his writings and paintings, J.L. Coullie and J.U. Jacobs, eds. : book review. English in Africa, 32 (2). pp. 237-242. ISSN 0376-8902




a.k.a. Breyten Breytenbach brings together a collection of 14 essays by 12 scholars on the work of this remarkable South African writer, poet and painter. Designating Breytenbach as ‘South African’ is, of course, already a highly contentious act. It relates directly to the central concern of this volume (and one of the central concerns of Breytenbach’s work), namely the question of identity. The title characterises the artist’s proper name as but one in a series of constantly shifting and interchanging personas adopted in his art (and in his life, e.g. when working underground in the 1970s to contribute to the overthrow of the apartheid regime). The painting on the cover further explores the theme of the mask, with the white male figure’s face covered by a book-like object (although his eyes are partially visible through the object), and the presence of a burning hat floating in the air next to him serves as an additional link with many of his other paintings where headgear is associated with shifting identities, as pointed out by Marilet Sienaert in her essay, “The I of the Beholder: Identity and Place in the Art and Writing.” Like several of the other authors, Sienaert places great emphasis on the notion of movement or transformation as critical to Breytenbach’s thinking and creative practice. It is virtually unavoidable, given his background, that he should grapple with “the contemporary notion of ‘home’ being both everywhere and nowhere”, and that travel and nomadism should have become two of the most prominent themes in his poetry as well as his prose. Identity and creativity are both dependent upon the ability to constantly renew oneself and to “keep moving”.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Anton Vorster is a lecturer of Afrikaans and Netherlandic Studies in the School of Languages, Rhodes University
Uncontrolled Keywords:Breyten Breytenbach; A.k.a. Breyten Breytenbach: Critical Approaches to his Writing and Paintings; identity; renewal; J.L. Coullie; J.U. Jacobs; personas; masks; home; travel; nomadism; apartheid; book reviews; criticism; painting; South African literature; art criticism; literary criticism; South Africa; Africa
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > School of Languages > Afrikaans and Netherlandic Studies
ID Code:1072
Deposited On:04 Sep 2008
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:19
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