Beyond knowledge : A reading of Dambudzo Marechera
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
By concentrating on his prose works, this thesis explores Dambudzo Marechera's rendering of the decentred self and his examining of this in terms of both its relationship with society, and its impact on metaphysical thought, particularly anarchist idealism. Colin Style, in his essay "The White man in Black Zimbabwean Literature," claims parenthetically, in reference to Marechera's attitude towards Europeans, that "[t]o be fair, as a total iconoclast, he is rampantly anti-everything." This thesis both agrees and disagrees with Style's comment. In terms of Marechera's hostility towards even the most subtle human organisation Style is correct; Marechera claimed that the act of organising always reminded him "of jail" and this thesis examines this in terms of his portrayal of such organising on international, national, domestic, revolutionary and fantastical levels. It must be noted that these levels take on greater significance in Marechera's literature as they become increasingly microcosmic or increasingly radical; and they are dealt with accordingly here. However, despite his vituperative attitude towards people when he perceived them as adopting a role, Marechera empathised with all of his species in terms of having an impure, unknowable psyche which of necessity clings to partial truths, adopting them as fundamental. This thesis investigates Marechera's evocation of this psyche, in all its irreconcilable elusiveness, and examines his efforts to represent this unknown as a commonality which defines equality. A distinctly Marecherean use of the doppelganger aids this investigation as it travels from concept to concept following various masks as they glide from character to character within and through Marechera's works. This brings into play both Marechera's subtext of a decentred consciousness and the avenues (characters) through which to examine the above ideas in detail. Reference is made throughout to select literature which in various ways augments or elucidates this reading of Marechera, and generically European philosophy is called upon sparingly to support this interpretation of his words.