In a violent situation, in time of war and turmoil, the protagonist of Karel Schoeman's Afskeid en vertrek [Taking leave and go], a poet, searches for something enduring to hold on to while the world as he knew it seems to be disappearing. Words and language seem to be the obvious answer for the poet, but in time of war language and communication also seem to break down. The Bertolt Brecht motto serves as point of departure for an interpretation of this novel. While even poetry fails to describe the effects of violence and decay, the novel suggests that the only way to make sense is to find a new language, to explore different possible ways of being in changing times.
This article was co-written by Prof. Willie Burger before he joined the University of Pretoria