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Drawing the LineToward an Aesthetics of Transitional Justice$
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Carrol Clarkson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254156

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254156.001.0001

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Visible and Invisible

Visible and Invisible

What Surfaces in Three Johannesburg Novels?

Chapter:
(p.137) 6 Visible and Invisible
Source:
Drawing the Line
Author(s):

Carrol Clarkson

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823254156.003.0007

The chapter opens with a photo essay, recording a walk taken in Hillbrow with Phaswane Mpe, retracing the footsteps of the characters in his novel, Welcome to Our Hillbrow. The discussion opens onto a reflection of a phenomenology of the city, and refers to two other very different novels, also set in Johannesburg: Marlene van Niekerk’s Triomf, and Ivan Vladislavic’s The Restless Supermarket. Each of the novels depicts a physical urban landscape that bears the traces of an immediate and absent past, yet in the moment of the characters’ recognition of features in the landscape that register buildings and people no longer there, the novels articulate a chiasmus of the visible and the invisible, the spatial and the temporal, drawing attention to the contingency of each cultural and political moment, challenging the reader through literary representation about what can be seen, and said, and thought.

Keywords:   Phaswane Mpe, Marlene van Niekerk, Ivan Vladislavic, Johannesburg, Hillbrow, Maurice Merleau-Ponty

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