Is Afrikaans Literature a World Literature? New Notes on an Old Field

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Leon de Kock
Jeanne-Marie Jackson

We are two scholars of South African literature – one senior, one junior – who came to the field by very different paths. Leon is a professor, but also a writer (of a novel and three volumes of poetry); a well-known translator of contemporary Afrikaans fiction into English; and a frequent literary commentator in Cape Town and Johannesburg. He grew up and made his career in South Africa at a time when Afrikaans was the country's de facto official language. Jeanne-Marie learned Afrikaans, at first, from the much more baffling location of New Haven, Connecticut. After "discovering" the language through its literature as a graduate student, she went on to write her first book on Russia, South Africa and provincial literary cultures, and is now an assistant professor of world literature at Johns Hopkins. The two of us are also married, living between Baltimore and southern Africa, and are often intrigued by what the other brings, quite literally, to the table. Whereas Leon has decades of deep local knowledge from which he then derives a bigger picture, Jeanne-Marie began with a broad theoretical framework in comparative literature and worked in the other direction.

Often, Afrikaans literature strikes us both as a more provocative critical space than South African writing in English. For such a small population, in the grand scheme of things (about 10 million speakers all told) – and given its bad international reputation from the apartheid years – it has produced an astonishing number of acclaimed contemporary writers. Marlene van Niekerk, Ingrid Winterbach, Etienne van Heerden, Eben Venter, Mark Behr and now, SJ Naudé, continue to build on the legacy of earlier, dissident figures like André Brink and Breyten Breytenbach. If we grant that Afrikaans also played a significant role in JM Coetzee’s development as a writer (a controversial move), this group rises to yet another level of international note. 

The exchange that follows picks up on a series of in-person conversations on the topic of contemporary Afrikaans writing. At a time when the phrase "world literature" is ubiquitous both among critics and in the academy, we ask how it might bridge the gap between scholarly ideas and understanding what happens among writers on the ground. 

JMJ: I’ve been thinking a lot about our confusion at breakfast the other day: you mishearing my suggestion that contemporary Afrikaans writing was “a world literature” as just “World Literature”, without the indefinite article. You seemed slightly frustrated by what would, these days, have been a pretty rote suggestion: don’t just write a piece about Afrikaans or even South Africa, give it a dose of “World Literature” theory! I think even scholars in this hard-to-define field are facing world-literature fatigue. It’s been the topic of so many panels, books and essays over the past ten years that I often want to ban it from my own vocabulary and replace it with anything else.

And yet, as soon as I clarified the fact that I’d said “a world literature”, rather than invoking World Literature as an academic field or the sum total of the world’s literary output, the conversation took off. This tells me a few things that are worth thinking about. First, there is a big difference between what “world literature” sounds like to theorists, and what it sounds like to writers. This is a real problem, since, ostensibly, the writers writing world literature are the objects of academic study. (In reality, of course, a few of them hog the academic limelight: Coetzee in the South African context, and maybe Amitav Ghosh and Haruki Murakami for the rest of it.) Second, “world literature” seems to assert everything and nothing, since it’s been spun in so many ways. “A world literature”, on the other hand, gets us asking a really hard question: What are the standards by which a set group of texts or writers – not the one, but also not the many – can be said to be “of the world”, or of a world standard? It’s easy enough to say that someone is a world writer, because that’s usually a more straightforward observation about who is in fact most read around the world. And it’s easy, building on that, to say that World Literature comprises a set canon of those writers, or the sum total of literary traditions in the world. It’s a lot harder to imagine a set of evaluative criteria by which a tradition, but not necessarily all, could make the cut.

Marlene van Niekerk
Ingrid Winterbach
Etienne van Heerden
Eben Venter
SJ Naudé
André P Brink
Breyten Breytenbach
JM Coetzee

LdK: First, let me say that, upon reflection, it doesn't seem to make that big a difference whether one uses the indefinite article or not, because the standard for entry into any notion of "world literature" remains forbiddingly high. I mean the kind of standard set by David Damrosch in his What is World Literature? – a criterion that strikes me as still relevant: "[A]ll literary works that circulate beyond their culture of origin, either in translation or in their original language.”

When one measures Afrikaans literature by this standard, only five writers decisively make the grade: André Brink, Breyten Breytenbach, Antjie Krog, Etienne van Heerden, and Marlene van Niekerk. These are authors whose works have been translated into English (and other languages), and have circulated internationally, or beyond the home context.

Newer entrants to this category, but not yet quite established as "world" writers, are Ingrid Winterbach, Eben Venter and SJ Naudé. Winterbach's To Hell With Cronjé was published in English by Open Letter Books, attached to the University of Rochester (not a major publisher by any means); Venter's Wolf, Wolf has just been released by Scribe Press, which works out of Sydney and London (also a small outfit), and Naudé's The Alphabet of Birds was recently put out by & Other Stories in London, itself not a massive distributor.

Afrikaans literature's fabulous forerunner to all of these writers was the "Sestiger" ("Sixtiers") writer Etienne Leroux, whose trilogy of novels under the title To A Dubious Salvation was published in Penguin's Modern Classics series in 1972. And yet few people outside of South Africa will remember Leroux, who was taken up briefly as a high modernist writer in the 1970s but was eclipsed by André Brink as the voice of dissident Afrikaner resistance to apartheid. Leroux's critique of apartheid followed the contours of Alfred Jarry's pataphysics, with elements of surrealism also playing a role. As such, it was perhaps too "subtle" for the perceived urgencies of anti-apartheid discourse in the world at large. (Even South African literary critics in English have persistently misread Leroux's works.)

The difference between "a world literature” and “World Literature”, from inside a country like South Africa, amounts to the difference between sharing the world stage alongside writers who write in English (thus reducing the final tally), and having a stage all to oneself as "Afrikaans" world literature.

If the stage is shared, let us say in a Pascale Casanova World Republic of Letters kind of line-up, or in an optic like that of Franco Moretti's "Conjectures on World Literature”, then the overall South African component will necessarily be limited.

"South Africa" might then be represented by Marlene van Niekerk (Agaat) and JM Coetzee (Disgrace), alongside India's Amitav Ghosh and Salman Rushdie, Australia's Peter Carey and Tim Winton, England's Ian McEwan and Hilary Mantel, the USA’s Jonathan Franzen and Cormac McCarthy, Canada's Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, and so on. If one enlarges the category, perhaps Antjie Krog and Brink (or Breytenbach) might make the grade, but it remains a discomfitingly small list. Diversity, range and depth are lost.

Isn't the point, then, that any "world" optic, whether one uses the indefinite article or doesn’t, reduces vertical range at the expense of a lateral, cross-section, longer view? Perhaps this is inevitable. But for writers on the ground it is quite savage: to miss out on the "world" market feels like a kind of internal exile from global connection, like wearing an old mechanical timepiece while other, smarter and richer writers are walking around with Apple's new smart-watches.

JMJ: I take your point that practically speaking, the vast majority of writers in the world will never reach the level of circulation and recognition that "world literature" in any form implies. My colleagues are usually surprised when I tell them what an average print run is in South Africa – 4 000 or so copies in English, maybe a few more in Afrikaans – with lots of those donated or pulped when the launch parties end, plus a year or two. But behind your question of "Who are we reading?" (Answer: not enough of the talented writers we might be), there's another question: "Why are we reading?" that you try to avert. In my view, you need to answer the second question before you can think cogently about the first. To do that, “world literature” with the "a" in front might still be a meaningful tool.

So many times when Americans have asked me why, of all languages, I chose to learn Afrikaans, I've found myself saying something along the lines of: "It's one of the great, unheralded world novelistic traditions!" The implication is qualitative rather than quantitative, with the issue of low print runs and missed contracts perhaps an injustice, but not a point of disqualification. On that point, we seem to agree. Where I lose pace with your thinking is the idea that inclusion, in and of itself, is the bottom line of trying to get more writers translated, out there, and read. Sure, it's a shame to think of world literature as the literature Olympics – national novelists (and the occasional poet) marching two by two to the PEN conference in New York, like Noah's Ark meets The Hunger Games. But at the end of the day it’s a little naïve to imagine that writers deserve to be read just because they’re writing. If we grant that there has to be some standard of entry to any visibility, imaging what the standard should be to be seen as "a" world literature, rather than just remarking on what it is, the conversation is more productive. This is fundamentally a recoding of the Canon Wars, I guess, and I am not by default an anti-canonical scholar (or reader). 

This is where I think that scholars and critics should be tasked with different things, though they certainly overlap. As a World Literature scholar, I feel that I'm responsible for going deep into the national context of whatever non-British or US tradition I'm on to (and “everything else” is the broad definition of “World Literature” in terms of university hiring). As a critic, though, which in many ways precedes my academic work, I need something to grab me and send me digging in the first place. So my engagement with Afrikaans over the years has gone from JM Coetzee, to a sense that there was something behind Coetzee that English couldn’t quite give me, and then to Marlene van Niekerk. From there, I had to qualify for a doctoral exam I designed, so I worked my way to the “Sestigers” (Brink, Leroux, Ingrid Jonker, etc), and the “Dertigers” (mainly NP Van Wyk Louw). Now I'm in a position to circle back and better interrogate World Literature as an idea – what it leaves out, as much as what it includes. But the catch here is that I had to recognise Afrikaans as a world literature in the first place, with very little to go on. 

A common way out of this catch-22 is to start thinking in terms of global literature, rather than world. Often the two terms are used interchangeably, which I think is a mistake. Global literature, to me, entails a more specific sense of formal attributes, which then tend to get taken up through a global distribution/circulation network that largely mirrors these attributes. “Global literature” as a market versus a form, or even a genre, is a chicken-or-the-egg sort of problem. So a writer like David Mitchell writes books that jump all over the map, that are about the global marketplace (in the case of Ghostwritten, in particular), and then – either as a result of, or in a way that determines their form and content in the first place – get trafficked as global literature. It would be an easy way out to just start seeing a writer like SJ Naudé, whose The Alphabet of Birds chronicles the truly global Afrikaner diaspora in a series of disconnected short stories rather than a continuous narrative, as part of this category. But I think he's on to something a bit different, which then lets us look back at Afrikaans literature in a new light. In that sense, it’s a doubling of source and network that the locked-in circuitry, or the weirdly static flux, of globalisation isn't able to achieve. 

LdK: Oh yes, I would be only too happy to expand the category of "world" Afrikaans writers to include those whose works are, broadly speaking, "worldly”, that is, works deserving of this most singular badge (in my opinion and in the opinion of better critics of Afrikaans literature than me). Then we could include any number of zappy writers, like Koos Prinsloo, the inaugurator of postmodern fiction in any language in South Africa (long before Ivan Vladisavić); the poets HJ Pieterse, JC van Staden and Gert Vlok Nel, among others (neglected by critics but included in André Brink's classic Afrikaans poetry compendium, Groot verseboek); novelist HJM Scholtz (author of an utterly estranging narrative of rural comradeship called A Place Called Vatmaar); and Willem Anker, author of Buys, the recent novel about a transgressive frontiersman that breaks every taboo in the traditional Afrikaans book.

However, the delimitation I initially set out was the Damrosch one, which requires readership and circulation in home as well as other "markets" of reception. This is a restricting definition, yes, and I don't like such restrictions either, but it is also a very worldly restriction! That is to say, it is true of the world in which readership occurs (or does not). As much as I want Koos Prinsloo's works to be in the archives of "world" Afrikaans literature, if it's not there in reality, if no "worldly" scholars or critics in New York or London or Sydney or Mumbai have ever heard of him, then it's tickets, as they say.

JMJ: OK, so we agree on one key thing: world literature is a category that is both aspirational and descriptive. “Global literature” works better as shorthand for the aggregate literary systems of the world (and, as I’ve said, for books that explicitly try to formalise the idea of these interlocking systems). World literature, especially for “peripheral” languages like Afrikaans, is necessarily a project of the few that represent the many. It’s easy to criticise it from that point of view, but that critique is pretty low-hanging fruit. Once you suspend the easy slogan of complete inclusivity, more interesting lines of in inquiry open up. 

I'd say that a single tradition, to be a “world" one, needs to consistently straddle a set of distinctive concerns and a set of broad ones. If they coincide, all the better. This is different from Damrosch’s model of source cultures and circulation, because a book could conceivably do this straddling very well and still not be in circulation. I guess the interesting question to me is, “Does literature have to be read to be world?” By that definition, a novel like Anker’s Buys, regardless of how path-breaking it is in going back to the scene of the Dutch colonial crime without a clear postcolonial “message”, doesn’t make the cut. (This is not to imply that it’s not brilliant, or important to study and read.) In breaking Afrikaans taboos, as you put it, Buys redirects its energies from reiterating what those taboos are. In some sense, its value becomes legible only to someone with a more specific investment in that part of the world, and I’d say that the same goes for Vatmaar in its utter bypassing, rather than just challenging, of South African clichés (including in its form, which is really more like hyper-local vignettes than a novel). Another example of this “brilliant, not much read, but also not world” type of work, for me, is Reza de Wet’s plays. I think they’re wildly innovative, but likewise almost too innovative to get the balance between tradition and iconoclasm quite right. 

A novel like Eben Venter’s Wolf, Wolf, in contrast, isn’t limited by its embedding in the tradition of Afrikaans writing, but it is about embedding. Of course it’s only truly comprehensible to an Afrikaans reader in its references to children’s games, local geography, family norms, etc; I don't mean that it’s somehow “less Afrikaans”. But in its concern with what it means to build a future in a particular neighbourhood (Observatory), in a particular city (Cape Town), it is more readily intelligible as a statement about geographical and financial anxiety, writ large. As you say, it’s not as if Venter’s work has been taken up by a broad international readership, either, though it’s made inroads in London and Sydney. But I think this is for different reasons, namely that the market is just too crowded for everyone who should be there even by the restrictive standard I’ve put forth. 

LdK: I agree that the new frontier in Afrikaans writing is about the Afrikaner frontier, and quite squarely so – there is no escaping it. So yes, the works that deal with embeddedness and anxiety about displacement, estrangement and self-alienation within a compellingly unavoidable world context are those that will make the most lasting contributions to both Afrikaans literature and what I would call "postapartheid world Afrikaans literature”.

To be "postapartheid”, in the sense in which I am seeking to define it for my current book project (Losing the Plot: Fiction and Reality in Postapartheid Writing), is to be "meta" about the entire project of Afrikanerdom and apartheid, that is, to be worldly about it in the radical way exhibited by writers such as André Brink, Antjie Krog, Breyten Breytenbach, Etienne van Heerden, Ingrid Winterbach, Marlene van Niekerk, SJ Naudé, and Willem Anker.

This means to ascend above and beyond the enclosures of Afrikanerdom, which is perhaps not as easy as it might sound from the vantage of Baltimore. From the point of view of, say, Stellenbosch, the Afrikaans university town I recently left, the picture is slightly different.

Right now, in that oak-lined university pasturage, a literary festival called Woordfees ("Word Festival") is going through its motions of self-extension, or is it self-congratulation? In a sense, those are the options, and the "congratulation" element, which in a kinder register one should perhaps call "self-validation", is co-extensive with deep-rooted notions of "self-extension" in ways that diverge from what you and I might now regard as Afrikaner self-projection into a global future.

Remember that the entire history of the volk is one of inward escape, or exploration, a fabulously heroic journey into the interior, captured in the notion of the Great Trek (“Die Groot Trek") away from imperial dominion, into the interior of Africa.

This was not your standard, Conradian journey into the "heart of darkness”, though often it was conceived that way by the Afrikaner trekboers. It was, initially, an act of defiance against the Dutch and British regimes of taxation and legislation in the Cape. In a proto-postcolonial sense the early trekboers wanted to be free of overweening control from the capitals of Europe. They wanted, in an idealistic sense, to be free to farm and expand their vistas within a frontier mythology that was rough and ready, to be sure, but more "equal" in its measuring up of man against man, and woman against woman, than the Imperial patsies at the Cape would allow.

Antjie Krog
Koos Prinsloo
Gert Vlok Nel
Willem Anker
HJ Pieterse
Etienne Leroux
Ingrid Jonker
NP van Wyk Louw

Of course, as time went on and the Boers gathered strength, eventually forming the Orange Free State and Transvaal polities (the very "states" that went to war with Britain in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902), they increasingly oppressed the indigenous peoples whose territories they conquered in order to establish these dominions. However, for a certain period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries it looked as if it needn't have gone quite this way.

The late 18th going into the 19th century is precisely the period dealt with by Anker's novel, Buys: 'n Grensroman (Buys: A Border Novel). The eponymous hero, Coenraad de Buys, about whom there exist archives of mythography and record-keeping, is notable because his lifetime was spent cocking a snook at the "authorities”, especially what the Buys character in Anker's book calls the "fakken Engelse" (the Imperial English at the Cape, powdered and fussy to an egregious extent). Buys forges ahead into land that lies beyond various frontiers as these are repeatedly redefined as Imperial into greater and greater reaches of the Eastern Cape.

In the process, he indigenises. He learns to speak fluent Xhosa, he marries many women, none of them white, and he fathers many children who would be called "bastards" in the local idiom. (Indeed, the prolific – and routinely racist – white South African writer Sarah Gertrude Millin would write a novel called King of the Bastards about him, published in 1949 in the USA by Harper, and in 1950 in the UK by William Heinemann, no less; a "global" writer of an earlier period.) Buys represents the anarchic "other”, the internal mirror image, the upside down alter ego, of the Afrikaner. For a brief while he represented a different possibility for whites in Africa: full indigenisation. Granted, Buys was a murderer, a bigamist, a sexist and a very, very violent man. He was seven feet tall and is rumoured to have fathered over 300 children – a result of his reputedly gargantuan sexual appetite. He is a Bacchus of Africa, a Beast of Afrikanerdom, a Boer gone dark and anarchic, and he isn't pretty, but he is worlds apart from the white-faced imperialists who eventually built an oppressive Afrikaner nationalism on the laughable foundations of their being "Israelites in Africa”, chosen to Christianise and civilise the heathens. That tired old myth was little more than a recycling of the weak justification for imperialism first proffered by the British (missionary) imperialists.

To this day, Afrikaners seek to differentiate their own sense of self-extension (and self-validation) from those they feel are imposed from the outside. This itch, this refusal to be "told what to do", runs incredibly deep in Afrikaner phylogeny. And to this day there is a radical (Buys-type) version on the one hand, which breaks ranks completely, and a more domesticated (or pragmatic) narrative of change and evolution on the other.

JMJ: I think that Afrikaans as a world literature, then, might look something like this: a writer like Marlene van Niekerk, who is certainly not “global” in her forms or concerns if we use that term with any precision, serves as a sort of official stamp for the classification. She’s doing panels with Toni Morrison, Agaat gets reviewed in Oprah Magazine, and she’s taken up widely by academics. But if she were just a one-off success story, this wouldn’t mean much for the Afrikaans scene as a whole. The reason that she becomes important in world terms is that there are enough other Afrikaans writers who deal with comparable subjects at a roughly comparable pitch (Mark Behr’s Embrace or Kings of the Water, for example, despite the fact that he starts writing in English). Then, we would have to take stock of the other novelists that we mentioned in our introduction to this exchange. In other words, a world literature needs a critical mass of practitioners who destabilise their “source” tradition enough to be doing something new, but who don’t destabilise it so much that they rewrite it entirely. 

Afrikaans literature is thus primed to be a world literature now in a different way from what it was during the dissident years of anti-apartheid writing with Brink and Breytenbach. In a writer like Eben Venter or SJ Naudé you see someone who is acutely aware of their own cultural moribundity even as they’re swept up in what on the surface is a very “global” life: they’re moving forward and looking backward at the same time. This makes me think that, counter-intuitively, the best-poised traditions to be “world literature” are not the ones that seem to be the most global. It’s actually the opposite: no one is quite sure where they stand, these days, in a world of gridlocked hyper-mediation. The sense of mundane dislocation that many Afrikaans writers feel is thus pointedly contemporary. The smallest claims become, at their best, the most revealing of broader conditions.

To paraphrase the English South African novelist Henrietta Rose-Innes, the version of world literature I’d want to endorse is something like classical music: an act of considered curation that knowingly embraces its small share of the market. Boutique publishers, small print runs, but a committed and self-identified base of readers and writers who think about what world writing means. Genre fiction already has most of the money – it doesn’t need heaps of intellectual credibility, too. 

I think you get the last word.

LdK: To get back to my starting point in my previous “instalment”, many people at Woordfees in Stellenbosch this week will feel that they have the right to celebrate an Afrikaans literature that is adequate unto itself, and, regardless of what we may think of such a position, it does represent a significant frontier of a particular kind, one that refuses even the current "global" demand to relativise and "meta"-deconstruct itself.

That, in very important senses, is precisely what SJ Naudé and Eben Venter, not to mention Etienne van Heerden and Marlene van Niekerk, are doing in their writing. They are "queering" Afrikaans, and not everyone in the current and supposedly "reformed" or enlightened (verligte) political climate likes this. Witness the visceral reaction in Stellenbosch against Marlene van Niekerk's 2010 play, Die Kortstondige Raklewe van Anastasia W (The Short Shelf-Life of Anastasia W). This savage and mordant faux opera about the socio-political killing fields of the "new" South Africa severely discomfited the Stellenbosch intelligentsia, who complained about its supposed over-reaction to the ills of postapartheid. Although this reaction could be construed as supporting the postapartheid establishment against an "intemperate" wail of protest, my sense is that it was, in reality, a plea for a quieter kind of accommodation, a more pragmatic form of survival, which has always been the Afrikaner's special skill in the world.

So, yes, one necessarily needs to start with the few meta-deconstructionists of Afrikanerdom (be they “world” or “global”) in order, later, to properly understand the more "vertical" Afrikaans writers, of whom there are many, and many good ones, too. Afrikaans literature, as you point out above, might find its greatest moments of worldliness not in its being seamlessly synchronised with a greater planetary consciousness, but in its very dislocation, its global isolation, just as the subtitle of your new book (South African Literature’s Russian Soul: Narrative Forms of Global Isolation) puts it.

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  • Beste Leon en Jeanne-Marie:
    Verskoon tog; dit pla my dat hierdie gesprek in Engels uitgepraat word. Dis blote toeval dat ek dit raakgeloop het. Wat geld die konsep 'Globaal' en 'Wêrelds' oa waar die literatuur so van sy worteltaal weggeskei word? Dat die lesers en kritici dit in ander tale moet waardeer?
    Hoor nou: Skrywe wat eers uit vreemde bodem floreer, werp 'n lig nie soseer op die 'wêreld' (hoor die aanslag van hierdie term hier) van hul skepping as op die kromme en onervare (sê nou niks van onbevare) verstand van uitlanders. Sielkundiges kan hieroor smul. Let wel, ek weet (ek ook), hierdie probleem bestaan met alle literatuur wat buite eie bron uitsprei. By voorbeeld Harper Lee se 'To Kill a Mocking-Bird': Nie een van ons sal verskil dat dit Wêreldliteratuur is nie. Laat wie van ons verskil dat bv 'n Pool van al hoe hoë 'n akademiese stand sal nie noodwendig die kern van die verhaal snap nie? Veral as hy nie op 'n heel breër vlak kennis van die VSA en veral die Suide uit ander bronne en verkieslik self opgedoen het nie? Maak dit daarvan iets minder as 'Globaal' in literêre konteks?
    Ons wat in dese Land ontkiem het en in die Taal gespeen is besef presies die waarde en diepte van ons eie skrywers se siening in ons eie taal, asook die meriete, soos dit bestaan, en so, in alle billikheid, met alle ander volkere ter Wêreld. Dit is veral hier, tussen ons, in ons eie Taal tussen ons eie mense, of 'n werk 'Globale' waarde bereik. Deur uitlanders, en tussen uitlanderlesers sal die eintlike skat nie ontkiem nie.
    Wat my krap is die mate dat ons skrywers se werke veral deur Engelssprekende andertaliges met 'n uiters Engelse 'uit'boorling kultuuraanslag en siening wil 'verstaan'.
    Op 'n nie-literêre vlak verhaal ek my ondervinding met die Encyclopedia Britannica en sy jaarboeke vanaf 1963 tot 1983. 'n Kind is mos soos 'n Hobbit, nê!. Voorstens wil hy hê dit wat hy lees moet 'written fair and square without contradictions' wees. Knapie blaai onmiddellik na 'South Africa' en gelyke onderwerpe. En wat vind hy? wat daar uiteengesit word stem darem vaag ooreen met wat hy met sy eie onskuldige oog op die grond sien. Met latere denke besluit hy (ekke) die einste vlak toewyding, kennis en/of eerlikheid - sê maar objektiwiteit - wat op Suid-Afrika gewerp word moet maar net so wat betref alle ander onderwerpe geskied.
    Sodanige waardering meet nie die waarde van die 'sitz im leben' gestalte van 'Wêreldgehalte' literatuur nie, en heel te veel van die mees geslaagde - sê liewers 'winsgewende' - werk uit eie bodem voer net die vooroordeling en wanoortuiging van mense wat 'n ander se optredes onderdanig net aan sy eie weltanschauung kan meet. Dit maak nie van 'n werk 'Wêreldliteratuur' nie, en net so ook skryf dit nie af nie.
    Ek lees nie in julle gesprek van Eugène Marais nie. Sy werk nou in tot so ’n mate 'Wêrelds' gewees dat 'n Flaming daarvan kon plagiariseer. Hoeveel van die Wêreld se skrywe geniet die waardering 'World Literature' alleenlik op sterkte van 'n Engelse leserskap? Sal die akademiese vlak daarvan sulke oordeel regverdig? Sal die insig van die Engelse leserskap sulke waardering regverdig?
    Maar julle: Julle vertel 'n mooi storie, en ryklik uitgeprag. Aaag gaan tog aan!
    Die Uwe,

  • Mmm! Ek is n Engelsman, gebore in Engeland en hier woonagtig vandat ek 21 geword het. Nou's ek byna 73 en verskriklik bly dat ek Afrikaans kan praat, sing, skryf en lees!
    Vir my is ek min gepla oor wat die wêreld dink en hoe groot of klein die aanhang is, want ek is nie soseer van die taal afhanklik vir my daaglikse brood nie.
    Skrywers is seker wel daarvan afhanklik, want die leserstal hier is te klein om hulle te onderhou, dus sou ek sê soos baie ander dit deesdae doen: soek groener weivelde of ’n wyer weiveld, dus as nood druk, dan moet mens die hele wêreld in!
    Al wat ek sou byvoeg is dat mense/skrywers soos Langenhoven (hoewel nie vandag as "wêrelds" erken word nie) was in sy dae wat Afrikaans betref ’n vegter en grensverskuiwer soos min.
    Terloops ek was op soek na die Afrikaans vir "frontier" toe ek op hierdie artikel afgekom het!

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