Original Research

A narratological perspective on Douglas Livingstone’s A littoral zone (1991)

J.H. Kahl
Literator | Vol 31, No 3 | a64 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v31i3.64 | © 2010 J.H. Kahl | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 July 2010 | Published: 25 July 2010

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J.H. Kahl, Department English, School for Languages, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa

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This article explores aspects of the contemporary South African poet Douglas Livingstone’s “A littoral zone” (1991) from a narratological point of view, leaning largely on Peter Hühn’s narratological concept of the event and Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ “hypothesis of poetry as segmentivity” as formulated by Brian McHale (2009:18). A discussion of two juxtaposed poems from the said volume explores how the poems’ respective anecdotes and events are segmented, then arranged and sequenced into specific narratives to highlight the speaker’s conviction of the necessity of a biological and spiritual connection with the natural environment. In the larger context of the volume there are numerous other narrative lines (in the form of poems about specific experiences the poet had) that are juxtaposed in a similar fashion. Collectively these juxtaposed narrative lines then constitute on the level of the volume as a whole the autobiographical narrative of the poet’s development as self-ironic individual. The various anecdotes also contribute to the formation and development of the theme of symbiosis, a theme that has a direct bearing on how the poet sees the gap between humankind’s current and supposed connection with nature. The main event of the volume is to be found in the reader’s mind: the realisation that bridging this gap is absolutely necessary and that it starts with the individual.


A Littoral Zone; Event; Douglas Livingstone; Narratology; Segmentivity


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