"Ek is nie meer een van ons nie": Breyten en di volk. 'n Verkenning van die sikliese ritme en die terugkerende motiewe in die openbare reaksie op Breyten Breytenback

  • Francis Galloway University of Pretoria, South Africa
Keywords: Breyten Breytenbach, politics of resistance, Afrikaans literary debates, Afrikaans poetry

Abstract

“I am no longer one of us”: Breyten and the Afrikaner people - An investigation into the cyclical rhythm and the recurring motifs in the public response to Breyten Breytenbach [Afrikaans]

The Afrikaans poet-intellectual, Breyten Breytenbach, has been an active participant in South African public life since his debut in 1964. His artistic and political choices draw upon a culture and a politics of resistance based in the past, present and future. Over four decades he actively contributed to the polarization and expansion of cultural and socio-political debate in South Africa. Against this background the article explores the cyclical rhythm of approval and rejection that characterizes the relationship between Breytenbach and the Afrikaner people. Recently his dissident voice in local cultural and political discourse has been silenced following the results of a “people's poll” by a leading Afrikaans newspaper. The investigation contextualizes this watershed event by tracing key reception debacles in Breytenbach's career and highlights recurring motifs and the manipulative role of the Afrikaner press. These events include the reception of the Paris based poet's debut, Die ysterkoei moet sweet (The Iron Cow Must Sweat) (1964); the granting of a literary award and the ensuing refusal of a visa to his Vietnamese wife, an event that exiled the author (1965); his first visit to the country and participation in a “Sestiger” (Afrikaans authors of the 1960s) literary event (1973); his arrest, trial under the Suppression of Terrorism Act and subsequent imprisonment (1975); his release from prison and return to settle in Paris (1982); his return to South Africa to receive a literary award (1986); the reception of his first art exhibition, Painting the Eye (1994); the reception of his first play, Boklied (Song of the Goat) (1998); the reception of Die toneelstuk (The Play) and the subsequent opinion poll (2001); and the debacle that followed his decision to disseminate poems electronically to friends (2002).

Key Words: Breyten Breytenbach, politics of resistance, Afrikaans literary debates, Afrikaans poetry.

“Ek is nie meer een van ons nie”: Breyten en die volk 'n Verkenning van die sikliese ritme en die terugkerende motiewe in die openbare reaksie op Breyten Breytenbach

Die Afrikaanse intellektueel, Breyten Breytenbach, is sedert sy poësiedebuut in 1964, ‘n aktiewe deelnemer aan die Suid-Afrikaanse openbare lewe. Sy artistieke en politieke keuse berus op kulturele en politieke verset gebaseer in die verlede, die teenwoordige tyd en die toekoms. Die afgelope vier decades het hy aktief bygedra tot die polarisasie en uitbou van die kulturele en sosio-politieke debat in Suid-Afrika. Teen hierdie agtergrond ondersoek die artikel die sikliese ritme van goedkeuring en verwerping wat die verhouding tussen Breytenbach en Afrikaners kenmerk. Onlangs het sy dissidente stem in die plaaslike kulturele en politieke diskoers stil geword na ‘n “mensestemming” in ‘n Afrikaanse dagblad. Hierdie ondersoek kontekstualiseer die waterskeidende gebeurtenis deur sleutel resepsiedebatte in Breytenbach se loopbaan na te speur en die terugkerende motiewe en manipulerende rol van die Afrikanerpers uit te wys. Hierdie gebeure sluit die resepsie van die Parys-gebaseerde digter se debuutbundel Die ysterkoei moet sweet (1964); die toekenning van ‘n letterkundeprys en die daaropvolgende weiering van ‘n visum vir sy Vietnamese vrou, ‘n gebeurtenis wat die skrywer tot ballingskap gedryf het (1965); sy eerste besoek aan die land en deelname aan die 1973 Sestiger-skrywersberaad; sy arrestasie, sy hofsaak op aanklag van terrorisme en sy gevolglike gevangenskap; sy vrylating uit die tronk en sy terugkeer na Parys (1982); sy terugkeer na Suid-Afrika om ‘n letterkundeprys te ontvang (1986); die resepsie van sy eerste toneelstuk, Boklied (1998); die resepsie van Die toneelstuk (2001) en die daaropvolgende meningspeiling (2002) en die debakel wat gevolg het na sy besluit om sy gedigte slegs elektronies aan sy vriende te versprei (2002).

Trefwoorde: Breyten Breytenbach, versetpolitiek, Afrikaanse letterkundedebatte, Afrikaans poësie.

Tydskrif vir letterkunde Vol.41(1) 2004: 5-38
Published
2004-07-06
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 2309-9070
print ISSN: 0041-476X