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Swan Whisperer: An Inaugural Lecture

by Marlene van Niekerk and Marius Swart Sylph Editions
Pub Date:
Pbk 40 pages
AU$37.99 NZ$39.12
Product Status: Out of stock. Not available to order.
This playful, genre-bending cahier tells the story of pale, anxious creative writing student Kasper Olwagen and his strange encounter with the phenomenon of translation in the person of the Swan Whisperer. Through brilliantly imagined letters and recordings, van Niekerk recounts Olwagen's discovery of a vagrant who, without uttering any even remotely intelligible words, summons swans from Amsterdam's canals. Through the story of Olwagen's experience, van Niekerk probes the relationship between language and experience, writing and translation, stories and truth.A story of doubles, cadence, and, yes, swan whispering,The Swan Whisperer delves into the playfulness of sound in the Afrikaans language and the necessity for listening in all translation.

The Swan Whisperer: An inaugural lecture

Translated from the Afrikaans
by Marius Swart and the author 

“This is a tale of transmission, disappearance, and utterance, of writing as it hovers at the edge of language, trafficking with the ephemeral and the unreliable; challenging the primacy of the written text through a compelling reflection on flow and interference, rhythms and non-origin. A tale of listening as the rebeginning of writing; of people missing but resounding through words whose meaning is lost (or maybe it was never there completely): it has to be made anew every time. A story of speech emerged from and given back to birds, wind and water, a story of speech into landscape. A tale of writing as divining and impure continuity.”
Marlene van Niekerk is a celebrated South African poet and short-story writer, as well as being author of the celebrated novels Triomf and Agaat (The Way of the Women). Marius Swart is a lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch in Stellenbosch, South Africa.