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Mapping a Heartland Breyten Breytenbach’s ‘Zone of Bastardisation’ in <i>Dog Heart</i>

J.U Jacobs


The article takes as its point of departure the trope of revisionist cartography as it features in postcolonialist theories of the geographical and conceptual de/reterritorialisation of postcolonial cultures. It analyses the way in which Breyten Breytenbach returns to the formative topography of his childhood and maps his Western Cape “Heartland” in Dog Heart (1998). The article shows how his conception of identity in terms of topography and writing in terms of nomadism finds expression in the rhizomic narrative structure of Dog Heart: its narrative of 67 sections grows by a process of agglomeration, developing into different directions and concretising from time to time into anecdotes, episodes and passages of reflection. In a hybrid text that draws on local cultural memorabilia and mementoes, Breytenbach presents his “Heartland” as the original South African zone of bastardisation where he can deterritorialise the South Africa of apartheid and reterritorialise it in terms of the true mongrel character of Afrikaner culture and the Afrikaans language.

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eISSN: 2159-9130
print ISSN: 1013-929X