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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The witness: Rian Malan's 'My traitor's heart' and Elsa Joubert's 'Poppie'
Author:Gready, PaulISNI
Periodical:Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
About persons:Rian Malan (1954-)ISNI
Elsa Joubert (1922-)ISNI
Abstract:This article argues that witnesses' accounts in part gain their authenticity through an immediacy and a contagious self-belief. But who witnesses what and why? How are patterns of interpretation, engagement and resistance framed and weighed? These are political questions relating to the production of identity and knowledge, truth and power. The article also argues that the witness produces a testimony which is inadvertently no longer in the control or possession of its author(s), which exceeds the testifier's own awareness to bring forward a complexity of truths; and that the reader is urged not simply to see the testimony, but to see through it. In addressing these issues, the author focuses on Rian Malan's 'My traitor's heart' (1991) and the collaborative narrative, 'Poppie' (1981), by Elsa Joubert and Poppie Nongena. These narratives recount lives lived on different sides of the apartheid crime and represent a community of witnessing only in the sense that, both within and between texts, they contribute to the development of a 'community of testimonial incommensurates which, held together, have an overwhelming testimonial impact' (S. Felman and D. Laub, 1992). Bibliogr.