Focusing on silence

2008-05-13 00:00

MARIANNHILL Monastery is a local landmark. And there are other mission stations, some little more than ruins, dotted around East Griqualand and KwaZulu-Natal, that are so much part of the landscape that passers-by hardly notice them. However, one man’s curiosity about them has led to the publication of a new novel — or history — that lays bare Mariannhill’s soul.

In 1997, Green published a verse novella, Sinking, and thought he would do a quick follow-up. But For the Sake of Silence took over his life for 11 years, wore out two cars on KwaZulu-Natal’s worst rural roads and involved travel to remote parts of Europe. Green had grown up in Pinetown and knew Mariannhill. Its Trappist origins — the original monks were members of that contemplative order, whose rule demands silence — also fitted in with Green’s concerns at the time.

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