Original Research

A 'spirit' of home and exile: a re-evaluation of Breyten Breytenbach’s Memory of snow and of dust

T. Jansen
Literator | Vol 32, No 3 | a207 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v32i3.207 | © 2011 T. Jansen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2011 | Published: 30 July 2011

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T. Jansen, Department of English Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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This article notes the emergence of a global consciousness that recognises the need to move beyond well-worn categories of interpretation. In exploring the concepts of home and exile in Breyten Breytenbach‟s novel, “Memory of snow and of dust” (1989), the article examines how fresh perspectives in postcolonial studies – identified as a „spiritual turn‟ – allow one to gain access to new insights into the exilic condition. The author captures and conveys the experience of exile, and envisages through the exile‟s „double vision‟ a more complicated notion of home. The distressing journey into a new awareness of what constitutes home is examined. Furthermore, the article considers the restless, yet regenerative condition of exile that – although characterised by mental anguish – makes possible a more fluid response to spatiality. The renewed interest in (and legitimation of) the spiritual in postcolonial studies lends further insight into an alternative response to the search for a place/ space to call home. This article concludes with an affirmation of the relevance of “Memory of snow and of dust”, as a novel that challenges one to cultivate an expanded awareness – that moves beyond the material – in times during which the overlapping boundaries of home and exile are becoming a global condition.


Belonging; Exile; Home; Post-Colonialism; Spirituality


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Crossref Citations

1. “The Famous and the Obscure Were There, Waiting for Freedom”: Jeeva Rajgopaul's Photographs of South African Exiles in New York, 1991
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