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CAPE OF STORMS by André Brink


by André Brink

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-79907-X
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 Novella-length fable from South African writer Brink (An Act of Terror, 1989, etc.) that playfully suggests a mythic origin for his country's entangled cultures. Brink first takes a classic Greek legend that recounts the tragic love of the Titan Adamastos for Thetis, Nymph and Princess of the Wave, whose attempts at consummation are followed by Zeus turning him into the ``jagged outcrop of the Cape peninsula''; he then adds a few refinements, suggested by the great Portuguese poet Camoes, who transformed Adamastos into Adamastor, the god of the Cape of Storms--it is this Adamastor who apocalyptically warned of storms that would leave a beautiful shipwrecked victim at the mercy of the indigenous peoples, one of whom would become her lover. Finally, Brink adds his own twist as he invents the story of the Portuguese woman who, left behind by sailors frightened by the natives' assaults, is loved by T`kama, chief of the Khoikhoin, the tribe that once lived at the Cape. T`kama, who will die many deaths over the centuries, leads his reluctant tribesmen--along with the woman--into the interior. Attempts to consummate his love are frustrated, as his member--despite the ministrations of a healer- -begins to assume a huge and uncomfortable size; meanwhile, the tribe is beset with unnatural disasters, and, holding the woman responsible, beg T`kama to leave her behind. Thanks to the intervention of a well-placed crocodile, however, love finally conquers all, a child is born, and the tribe's fortunes improve. This brief happiness will end when, back in the Cape, the woman is kidnapped by sailors, leaving the child behind--a child of mixed race who lives on as consolation for the grieving T`kama, who has learned ``how dangerous it is to love.'' Brink has wittily created a splendid new myth in which primal emotions expand in a magical landscape--one rich in local allusions and profound foreshadowing and, in keeping with the genre, suitably bawdy.