This essay argues that Breyten Breytenbach's use of the English language to write his prison memoir True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist (1994) represented a kind of linguistic treason consistent with Breytenbach's legally defined treason against the apartheid state. While Breytenbach himself has been dismissive of the cultural productivity of his work, especially of the youthful rebelliousness of the work associated with the so-called Sestiger movement, the treason/translation of Confessions blazes a trail for a new politics of Afrikaans by insisting on the language's genuinely local,thoroughly hybrid nature. Well in advance of the birth of the new South Africa in 1994, Breytenbach undermined racialist notions of Afrikaans (whether as some sort of Herderian Sprachgeist of the white Afrikaner Volk or as the language of the white oppressor) and offered ways of conceiving Afrikaans as a defiantly impure language of local and national dissent (neither black nor white, neither traditionally African nor Europeanly modern) pitted against global and international systems of an anglophone world order.
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Simon Lewis; Tradurre e Tradire: The Treason and Translation of Breyten Breytenbach. Poetics Today 1 June 2001; 22 (2): 435–452. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-22-2-435
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