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Mouroir

by

Translated from by

Published: April 2009

$15.00 $9.99$12.00

ISBN: 9780980033076 eISBN: 9781935744283
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“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 be 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 phophorescent 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

 

“Mouroir might be seen as a novel, a series of stories, essays, prose poems, philosophical reflections, notes, or fragments, but is at the same time none of these things. Indeed, the power of this book, written by South African writer Breytenbach when he was imprisoned for seven years, lies in just that: these are pieces that cannot be pinned down. Here, the boundaries between the real and the magical are blurry, here the poetic and the lyrical can draw abruptly up into something painfully real.”

— Brian Evenson, Review of Contemporary Fiction

Book Description

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.

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 be 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 phophorescent 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


Mouroir might be seen as a novel, a series of stories, essays, prose poems, philosophical reflections, notes, or fragments, but is at the same time none of these things. Indeed, the power of this book, written by South African writer Breytenbach when he was imprisoned for seven years, lies in just that: these are pieces that cannot be pinned down. Here, the boundaries between the real and the magical are blurry, here the poetic and the lyrical can draw abruptly up into something painfully real.

Brian Evenson, Review of Contemporary Fiction


It resembles, I imagine, the incarceration experience in being downbeat, inky and gloomy, yet being a place, judging by the incandescence of the author’s prose, where the imagination can soar on untrammeled flights.

Jim Feast, Evergreen Review


If you enjoy artistic writing, poetic prose and an author who writes with a voice full of wisdom then for you Mouroir is a must read.

B&b ex libris


The dreams, the symbols have the DNA of communal memory. They are drawn from the same fountain that inspired The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and, yes, the Greek myths. Breytenbach has traveled to the place where stories are made and returned with a great big bag full.

The Los Angeles Times


Read an interview with author and translator Breyten Breytenbach here.

Read a conversation with Breyten Breytenbach about his imprisonment, his writing, and South Africa’s revolution here.