The book Pleasure is an extensive but not exhaustive text that seeks to explore and interrogate the phenomenon that is Pleasure. To identify it, analyze and measure it. The verb and or noun pleasure, as imagined, dreamed and experienced. The author seeks to get to the bottom of the mysterious pleasure phenomenon by relating a historical novel that covers World War II, and by narrating on the contradictions of present day Cape Town, South Africa.
Through following the intriguing journeys of two characters, Moremi, ( I resonated more with the name Moremi as opposed to Milton), a writer and a professor residing in Cape Town; and Giovani Gomez, an imaginary American soldier captured in World War II by the Germans, Nthikeng seeks context, grasp, and understanding of the elusive and slippery pleasure. The lives of these two characters affords us numerous scenarios to ruminate, reflect, explore and dissect Pleasure in its varied forms.
In following Moremi’s life, a good writer, living under his great author father’s shadow, we get to interrogate pleasure as experienced in Moremi’s various love encounters, in a state of wealth, in a state of poverty, in mental instability, homelessness, family, suicide and murder.
The book Pleasure is also a novel, a love story within love stories. We are let in on the platonic relationship between Giovani and Marie, wherein Giovani was subjected to experiencing Pleasure via observation and admiration of the woman form, amidst minimal communication. There is also the churchy and rigid relationship between Giovani and his wife Elisabeth. Moremi, on the other hand had relationships with three women, Orapeleng, Masechaba, Abella, and Alexis. From varied experiences and personalities of these women, Moremi mirrors his well-executed assertions and findings on pleasure.
Through experiences of twenty two year old Giovanni Gomez, his wife Elisabeth and his secret admirer, Marie Amsel, we are afforded the opportunity to further tackle Pleasure in a war zone. Gioviani epitomized that part of pleasure that we find amidst strife, solitude, fear, the mundane, longing, silence, uncertainty and death.
About sex and pleasure, Moremi opines on page 76: “… although carnal pleasure dominates human lives, it is by no means the only one. Yet its powerful pull dictates this reality, that it is not the only one, thus reducing other pleasures to a small letter p”
The narration is multidimensional. It also incorporates insightful opinions on African literature, Christianity, love and history.
Nthikeng writes beautifully. He is academic, lyrical and sensual. He is accurately descriptive of the smallest of objects, inanimate and otherwise. For a male, he artistically and tastefully writes about women characters, their bodies, sexuality and disposition without butchering it His writing is characterized by well punctuated long sentences; that required me as a reader, to lift myself up to his level. A well-researched project by all means.
What rings loud to me after reading the book is a response by Moremi to Achille on page 101: “No, you are not. If your counter view, and that of your Pan Africanist and nationalist for whom you have elected yourself spokesperson, is that Africans can only think and reflect on their own continent – in total isolation from world events – then you have lost your mind. I cannot accept Africans should not dream, or imagine themselves outside of only being black and colonised and enslaved – as if the rest of the world is empty, and that everything that happen in it has nothing to do with them whatsoever! That is demented scholarship, a very slippery ideological slope you are trying to climb…”
Award winning author, Nthikeng Mohlele was born in Polokwane in 1977, and also raised in Tembisa Township East of Johannesburg. He is a Wits graduate who holds a BA in Dramatic Arts, Publishing Studies and African Literature. He is the author of the following five critically acclaimed books, The Scent Of Bliss (2008), Small Things (2013), Rusty Bell (2014), Pleasure 2016 and Michael K (2018).
Author: Nthikeng Mohlele
Publisher: Pan Macmillan (2016)