On queerly reading canid tropes in Eben Venter’s Wolf, Wolf
The intertwined effect of loss of power on facets of masculinist identity (being a son, a lover, a citizen) and on categories of belonging (filial, intimate, national) is explored in Eben Venter’s Wolf, Wolf (2013). As the protagonist tries to navigate the lived actuality of contemporary South African life, the experience of multiple loss(es) leads him to consider the possibility of alternative ways of navigating the ‘in-between’ spaces of family structures, intimate connection, and national belonging. Curiously, the presence of canid tropes and canid symbolism appear alongside considerations of belonging. This article explores a reading of the canid presence and how it can productively be read as external manifestations of affective states, notably desire, shame and exclusion. Venter’s intentional blurring of boundaries (especially within homoerotic and homosocial bonds) between dog/wolf/jackal and man, citizen and immigrant, messy, carnal corporality and immaterial sterile cyberspace, queers the relationships presented in the narrative. The canid presence (an erotised wolfhound mask, farm dogs as machinic extensions of white masculinity, sustained ontological slippage between dogs and immigrants) acts as textual indicator that the protagonist finds himself situated outside heteronormative, filial and national categories.
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