Interpretation and the /Xam narratives.
Wessels, Michael Anthony.
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There has, in the last quarter of a century, been an increased interest in the /Xam narratives that form the major part of the nineteenth century archive of materials collected by Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek in Cape Town from /Xam informants. This has resulted in a proliferation of writing about the Bleek and Lloyd collection and its contents. The critical examination of some of this body of writing forms part of the project of this thesis. The other aim of the thesis is to provide a close reading of certain of the /Xam texts themselves. This thesis is based on the view that the first of these projects has only been attempted in a cursory and indirect fashion and that the second, namely the close reading of/Xam texts, has not yet been undertaken on a scale that parallels the range and complexity of the materials or which exhausts the interpretative possibilities they offer. This thesis aims to fill some of these gaps in the literature without claiming that a comprehensive or definitive study is possible in so wide and rich a field. Postmodern and postcolonial theory has emphasised the discursive and ideological nature of the language of both hermeneutics and literature. In my consideration of the /Xam texts and the writing that has been produced in relation to them, I attempt to consistently foreground the historicity and textuality of my own practice and the practices of the materials with which I am working. In this regard I question, especially, two assumptions about the /Xam narratives: that they are primarily aetiological and that their chief character, /Kaggen, the Mantis, is a trickster.