by Breyten Breytenbach


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Breytenbach composed this docu-dream during a period of incarceration. Mouroir (mourir: to die + miroir: mirror) is a ship of thought moving with its own hallucinatory logic through a sea of mythic images, protean characters and what the author describes as "landscapes and spaces beyond death, spaces that have always existed and will always exist." An Orphic voyage into memory and mirage, through passages between death and life, darkness and light, oppression and flight, sense and the sensed. Mouroir.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780980033076
Publisher: Steerforth Press
Publication date: 03/27/2009
Pages: 279
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 6.30(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

An outspoken human rights activist, Breyten Breytenbach is a poet, painter, memoirist, essayist and novelist. His paintings and drawings have been exhibited around the world. Born in South Africa, he emigrated to Paris in the late ’60s and became deeply involved in the anti-Apartheid movement. Author of All One Horse, A Season in Paradise, The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist, Dog Heart, The Memory of Birds in Times of Revolution, A Veil of Footsteps, among many others, Breytenbach received the Alan Paton Award for Return to Paradise in 1994 and the prestigious Hertzog Prize for Poetry for Papierblom in 1999 and for Die Windvanger (Windcatcher) in 2008.

Read an Excerpt

Now, in retrospect, it is difficult to remember exactly how or precisely when it happened. You should be like the elephant, the animal which can remember all its earlier lives in visions, which stands there contemplating without moving, and then chews the cud: grass, all grass. A life is the metamorphosis of the earlier one(s). A clever man has said – if civilizations can survive only through metamorphosis then the world consists of that which has been forgotten. (But another sly one objected that the living constitute the memory – event and thought – of the dead.) I’d love to see and to recognize a black elephant. Black he must be, but not rubbery. Rather more like silk. Silk that by candlelight has a silvery skin as if of frozen dew when day breaks over the dunes. And its eyes must be huge and dark, and mild, a concentration of the night, the night bumped; and with long eyelashes.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Yet this is not a prisoner’s book. It would be a crass injustice of underestimation and simplification if it is presented and received that way. It describes how the ordinary time-focus of a man’s perceptions can been extraordinarily rearranged by a definitive experience. … Prison irradiates this book with dreadful enlightenments; the dark and hidden places of the country from which the book arises are phosphorescent with it.”—Nadine Gordimer

“A complex, demanding, haunting book. … The blend between fantasy and reality, the lyric intensity of a narrative consciousness which refuses to be pinned down to one identity or a single mode of existence.”—John Wideman

“Breytenbach has the gift of being able to descend effortlessly into the Africa of the poetic unconscious and return with the rhythm and the words, the words in the rhythm, that give life.”—J.M. Coetzee

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