'Never one thing.  Always one thing and another': 'n inleidende poëtikale vergelyking van Ivan Vladislavic en Etienne Leroux

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Peer-Reviewed Research


As a language student at Wits in the 1970s, Ivan Vladislavić’s main subjects were English and Afrikaans. His interest in Afrikaans literature has since been expressed in interviews during which he acknowledged the influence of Afrikaans authors such as Breyten Breytenbach, Jan Rabie, John Miles and Etienne Leroux on his own work.Vladislavić’s writing bears a striking resemblance to the work of Etienne Leroux. Their relatedness in terms of poetics resides in the following: Firstly, both authors have risen above a mode of writing which either dominated the times in which they were writing or directly preceded it, and, secondly, they have made noticeably similar choices – in favour of the imagination. The writing of both Vladislavić and Leroux follows in the wake of critical historical junctures: the Second World War and the fall of apartheid, respectively. In both cases, society’s faith in the established order and its foundational myths foundered. In my contribution, I compare the authorial poetics of Vladislavić and Leroux in terms of their reflection on (historical) transition and change. As far as external poetics is concerned, I provide an elaborate overview of selected interviews with, and essays by, both authors. Since this article is a preliminary or introductory survey, the discussion of the authors’ internal poetics concentrates mainly on short prose with specific attention to selected short stories in Vladislavić’s Propaganda by Monuments and Leroux’s Tussenspel