Re–placing memories : time, space and cultural expression in Ivan Vladislavić's fiction
Swanepoel, Aletta Catharina
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Ivan Vladislavić’s fiction shows a preoccupation with the South African past in terms of both time and space and with the influence of ideology on the interpretation of the past and of cultural artefacts such as cityscapes, buildings, monuments, photographs, and fine art within the South African context. No study has yet considered Vladislavić’s entire oeuvre in terms of the interaction between time and space and their particular manifestation in concrete cultural expressions that generate meaning that can only be recognized over time and within the limits of different perspectives. In order to situate his work within such a paradigm, this thesis discusses various theories on the representation of time and space and their application and argues that Vladislavić represents concrete reality and abstract ideas about the past and ideologies in an interrelated manner, in order to illuminate the ways in which concrete reality influences perceptions of the past and its associated ideologies, but also how past and ideology, in turn, influence how concrete reality is perceived. His fiction can thus be described as exploring the complex dynamic between concrete and abstract. Perspective plays an important role in his fiction in terms of both his representation of concrete (city and artefacts) and abstract reality (past and ideology). Characters’ perspectives come into play as they negotiate, create and interpret concrete and abstract reality, and in the light of how they ‘see’ the world, their identities are shaped. Vladislavić shows that perspective is inevitably blurred with ideological prejudice. He does so, in such a way, that a reader is often led to reconsider her/his own way of perceiving both concrete and abstract. Cultural artefacts, in particular, mediate perceptions of time and of place; they are (in)formed by ideology and also have singular signifying possibilities and limitations. By drawing attention to his own expression in language, by creating seemingly random lists, or focusing on the multiple meanings of a word in a playful manner, Vladislavić shows that, like artefacts, language too is a medium for mediation that is subject to and formative of ideology.
- Humanities