Original Research

Liminal spaces and imaginary places in The bone people by Keri Hulme and The folly by Ivan Vladislavic

M. Wenzel
Literator | Vol 27, No 1 | a180 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v27i1.180 | © 2006 M. Wenzel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2006 | Published: 30 July 2006

About the author(s)

M. Wenzel, School of Languages: English Studies, Potchefstroom campus, North-West University, South Africa

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This article argues that the transcendent power of the imagination represented by literature and novels in particular, has played a major role in aiding societies to confront and deal with specific social and political realities in a multicultural global society. The fact that novels represent the development of fictional characters in time and space, enables the reader to experience the lives of the protagonists in a vicarious fashion. In fact, the concept of liminality (with regard to the different stages of separation, transition and re-integration into society) is emulated in the reading process. The interstitial space provided by liminality is especially pertinent to postcolonial novels such as “The bone people” by Keri Hulme. In this novel Hulme illustrates how fictional characters, in an individual and social sense, have to experience “rites of passage” in order to come to terms with traumatic changes in their lives and cultures. In a different way and with the bigoted South African apartheid society (including the reader) as target, Vladislavic exploits the power of the imagination to launch a subtle, yet stringent critique on people who lack imagination and consequently fail to use it constructively in order to transcend their narrow-minded reality – similar to Patrick White in his condemnation of restrictive social conventions in Australian society in his novel “Voss”.


Belonging; Hybridity; Identity; Imagination; Liminality


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