Rosanna Masiola
"Sacred Spaces in Southern African Literature: From Mhudi to Mutemwa" in

English Academy Review, Volume 39, Issue 2 (2022)

Editing byRosanna Masiola 


This article examines the representation of sacred spaces in the novels of four authors from southern Africa and their translations. It critically considers the representation of sacred spaces and the marginalisation of some areas of Africa. The selected passages feature common themes, such as the dispossession of the soil. A convenient distinction between sacred spaces is made in this article through categorising these spaces as apotropaic, chthonic, mystic, and messianic, and theological and epiphanic. Translations into the Romance languages of predominantly Catholic countries show evidence of textual divergence in the cohesion of symbols, lexico-semantic shifts, and cultural domestication. Whether this is imputed to ideological barriers and sociocultural filters is a matter for further investigation. Ultimately, the challenging issue is whether there is still space for the sacred in world literature.

Theology and Topophilia in Sacred Spaces: John Bradburne’s Way of the Water

John Bradburne’s (1921–1979) poetics of sacred space and sacred waters highlights a geo-specific correlation between theology and topophilia. There is a world of water enclosed within the sacred woods and mountains, rocks, grottoes, and caves where this lay Franciscan servant of God prayed and had his ecstatic visions. The topophilia and cosmology of the Canticle of the Creatures of Saint Francis underlie Bradburne’s poetic inspiration, as waters flow in profusion from fountains, lakes, rivers, wells, and pools. The scope of the present research is to chart Bradburne’s Franciscan and Marian devotion and the dynamics determining the sacralisation of spaces and lustral waters. Thus, the action of Bradburne bathing patients in the Mutemwa leper colony near Mutoko, together with the pool of water on Mount Chigona where Bradburne bathed, contextualised a space of purification, contemplation, and harmony, while the civil war raged around Mashonaland in Zimbabwe. The element of water seems to map out Bradburne’s mystic life, from his birthplace near the Lake District and Devon to Lourdes and Assisi, to India, the waters of Galilee, and the Libyan oasis—and, eventually, to the pool on Mount Chigona. Since Bradburne’s death, the Mount has become a site of pilgrimage and devotion.


PublisherEnglish Academy Review
Copyright: © Rosanna Masiola 
English Academy Review, 39:2, 52-66, DOI: 10.1080/10131752.2023.2172020
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