Original Research

Antjie Krog’s Mede-wete/Synapse as a challenge to new ways of comparative reading

Louise Viljoen
Literator | Vol 37, No 1 | a1271 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v37i1.1271 | © 2016 Louise Viljoen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2015 | Published: 21 July 2016

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Louise Viljoen, Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

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This article reads Antjie Krog’s volume of poetry Mede-wete and its English version Synapse (both published in 2014) against the background of Rebecca Walkowitz’s proposal that the future of comparative literature will entail what she calls ‘foreign reading’. In her contribution to the American Association of Comparative Literature’s 2015 report on the state of the discipline of comparative literature (http://stateofthediscipline.acla.org) Walkowitz argues that literary texts increasingly enter the world in different languages and that this requires readings that move away from the idea that literary texts ‘belong’ to a single language, that explore the diverse ways in which they are read in different languages and that acknowledges that literary texts exist in the space created by a language’s relationship to other languages. This article takes Walkowitz’s observations as the vantage point for a discussion of the ways in which Krog’s volume (1) foreignises the Afrikaans language in order to become part of an interconnected whole; (2) urges readers, critics and literary practitioners to move beyond the confines of language-based literary systems; and (3) forces them to engage in a variety of different readings, including partial readings and collaborative readings, in order to become embedded in a larger community


Comparative literature, Foreign Reading, Comparative Literature


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