oa African Yearbook of Rhetoric - A song of forgiveness : the dialectic between the rhetoric of place and the rhetoric of self in Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat - debut paper

Volume 9 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2220-2188
  • E-ISSN: 2305-7785




Can forgiveness – a concept that is notoriously difficult to pin down, even under the best of circumstances1 – be discovered in instances where people who forgive seem powerless to forgive; where the perpetrator does not palpably acknowledge their guilt as a perpetrator; where forgiveness seems radically impossible in light of the numerous and continual instances of the perpetrator’s abuse over many years, over a lifetime, in fact? I propose that just such an instance of forgiveness is at stake in Marlene van Niekerk’s novel Agaat,2 and that a meaningful conversation about the existence or absence of forgiveness in the novel’s circumstances – which function as an allegory for “post”-apartheid South Africa – requires an understanding of the dialectic between the rhetoric of self and the rhetoric of space as it plays out in the novel.

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