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n Journal of Literary Studies - Self and community in the poetry of Arthur Nortje : a symptomatic reading

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Abstract

Many studies of Arthur Nortje's poetry have commented on the prevalence in his work of images of alienation, seeing this as a function either of political conditions in South Africa in his lifetime or of Nortje's exile from his home country. In this paper, I maintain that Nortje's depictions of alienation are more fundamental than suggested by earlier studies, inasmuch as his depictions point to primordial loss as constitutive of identity. I argue that because identity is posited in relation to the other, it is inescapably a function of division and displacement, and suggest that as a result of his specific history, Nortje was more directly aware of this dynamic than most. Nortje's self-reflexive awareness of the paradoxes of identity formation emerges in what I identify as symptomatic forms of communication that cut across, and mutually implicate, the life and the work. In support of my argument, the paper uses as its material two poems, one written shortly before Nortje's departure from South Africa in 1965, the other written shortly before his death in exile in 1970.

Vele studies van Arthur Nortje se gedigte bespreek die voorkoms van beelde van vervreemding en sien dit as 'n funksie van óf die politieke toestande in Suid-Afika gedurende Nortje se leeftyd, óf van sy uitgewekenheid uit sy vaderland. In hierdie artikel voer ek aan dat Nortje se uitbeeldings van vervreemding meer fundamenteel is as wat vroeëre studies suggereer, omdat hulle dui op fundamentele verlies as die wese van identiteit. Ek voer aan dat wyl identiteit gepostuleer word in verhouding tot die ander, is dit noodwendig 'n funksie van gespletenheid en ontworteling, en suggereer ek dat Nortje, as gevolg van sy spesifieke geskiedenis, meer direk bewus was van hierdie dinamiek as meeste ander. Nortje se bewustheid van die paradokse van identiteitsvorming kom na vore in wat ek identifiseer as simptomatiese vorms van kommunikasie wat die lewe en die werk weerspreek en wedersyds impliseer. Om my argument te staaf gebruik ek as stof twee gedigte van Nortje, een geskryf kort voor sy vertrek uit Suid- Afrika in 1965, en die ander kort voor sy dood as uitgewekene, in 1970.

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/content/litstud/20/1_2/EJC62365
2004-06-01
2016-12-03
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