Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Translating Cultural Transition in Kgebetli Moele's Room 207/die Vertaling Van Kulturele Oorgang in Kgebetli Moele Se Room 207

Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Translating Cultural Transition in Kgebetli Moele's Room 207/die Vertaling Van Kulturele Oorgang in Kgebetli Moele Se Room 207

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article deals with the issue of cultural translation in a postapartheid text through the analysis of language, setting and discourse to highlight cultural transition in a society where socio-political mutations elicit new literary codes and symbols. The discussion is developed around concepts such as gender and ethnic identity or citizenship in a geographical environment where multi- and transcultural identities are endlessly being contested. The concept of translation is explored to show how Moele's text represents cultural transition within a postapartheid urban context by analysing the authorial transposition of everyday experience into the textual fabric. The article also examines how the narrative voice negotiates across the current multicultural divide in order to highlight cultural change both in South African literature and in society as a whole. This article addresses in the discussion the controversial debate raised by Michael Titlestad's (2007) review of the book published in the "Sunday times" on 25 March in which the critic evinces a negative reception of the book. This is used as a point of departure in order to explore a wide range of possibilities that fiction can offer by means of textual representation of the daily experience of black people in a postapartheid urban context.

Opsomming

Hierdie artikel bespreek die kwessie van kulturele vertaling in 'n postapartheidsteks deur middel van die analise van taalgebruik, ruimte en diskoers om sodoende die kollig te laat val op kulturele oorgang in 'n samelewing waarin sosio-politieke aanpassings nuwe literate kodes en simbole laat ontwikkel. Die diskussie ontwikkel rondom konsepte soos gender- en etniese identiteit of burgerskap, in 'n geografiese omgewing waarbinne multi- en transkulturele identiteite eindeloos betwis word. Die konsep van vertaling word ondersoek ten einde aan te toon hoe Moele se teks kulturele oorgang binne 'n postapartheid stedelike omgewing uitbeeld deur middel van 'n analise van die skrywet se omsetting van alledaagse ondervindings in die weefsel van sy teks. Die artikel ondersoek verder hoe die narratiewe stem die huidige multikulturele verdelings oorbrug ten einde kulturele verandering in sowel die Suid-Afrikaanse fiteratuur as die samelewing as geheel te belig. Die artikel bespreek die debat wat begin het met 'n artikel van Michael Titlestad (2007) wat in die "Sunday times" van 25 Maart verskyn het. In die artikel spreek hierdie kritikus emstige bedenkings oor die teks uit. Sy kritiek word as vertrekpunt gebruik om die wye reeks moontlikhede wat fiksie bled te ondersoek by wyse van die tekstuele uitbeelding van die daaglikse ervanng van swart mense binne 'n postapartheid stedelike milieu.

1. Theoretical argument

The end of apartheid has opened doors for new imaginings in South African literature as well as for novel perspectives in its literary criticism in order to claim a place in the global imaginary. This stylistic aspect of literature has been a preoccupation among South African critics both during and after apartheid. In the apartheid era the aesthetic dimension of the work of art was said to have been neglected by black writers in favour of what the South African critic and novelist Njabulo Ndebele called the spectacle of protest writing (1988:205). A question one can pose is to what extent the demise of apartheid has produced change in the new South African writing, and what the new features of post-1994 literary texts are. In his article, The pitfalls of the literary debut, published in the Sunday times of 25 March 2007, Michael Titlestad assesses the aesthetic validity of Kgebetli Moele's Room 207 by stating that the novel is an "unfinished work" (2007:2), because "[i]t eschews the niceties of novelistic prose and the formal criteria of plot and character development in favour of immediacy. Structurally it sprawls, comprising as it does seemingly random encounters and loosely related narrative lines" (Titlestad, 2007:1). …

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