Werkwinkel, 2012, vol. 7(1)


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
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    Factual/Fictional Eye-Witnessing of the Political Transition in South Africa – Mike Nicol’s The Waiting Country: A South African Witness
    (Department of Dutch and South African Studies, Faculty of English, 2012) Bartnik, Ryszard
    This paper concerns Mike Nicol’s memoir The Waiting Country, in which the author positions himself as an eyewitness of dramatic and outstanding events going on in South Africa before and during the elections of 1994. The primary goal the author assumes is to interpret the time of the political transition, hence his insistence on the legitimization of storytelling. In the text one finds, as explained by Nicol “[s]tories [he] ha[s] taken in and made part of what it is to live here. Stories [he] use[s] to depict [...] what is happening and what [he] think[s] is happening” (Nicol 1995: 12). Through a mosaic of cross-racial and literary viewpoints his text takes on the guise of a sincere and serious attempt at understanding the troubled South African self, both in its individual and collective dimension, and explaining that self to others. Nicol’s factual/fictional version of the country’s historical moment depicts the mixed feelings of exhilaration and anxiety everyone seems to have felt on the threshold of this fundamental, systemic change.
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    Writing Oneself, Writing the Other: J.M. Coetzee’s Fictional Autobiography in Boyhood, Youth and Summertime
    (Department of Dutch and South African Studies, Faculty of English, 2012) Kusek, Robert
    How is a writer’s life to be embodied in writing? How to tell one’s own life story? How to challenge a reader and not to imprison oneself in the modes and forms of conventional life writing? The above-posed questions remain central to J.M. Coetzee’s oeuvre who in one of the interviews with David Attwell confessed that “in a larger sense all writing is autobiography: everything that you write, including criticism and fiction, writes you as you write it” (Attwell 1999: 17). Coetzee’s difficult and highly confusing group of late twenty and early twenty-first-century works – Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life, Youth, Elizabeth Costello, Slow Man, Diary of a Bad Year and Summertime: Scenes from Provincial Life – focus on a variety of strategies in which a life can be represented in a literary work. These genre-bending contributions to life-writing discourse constantly challenge the readers to tell fact from invention, autobiography from fiction, never satisfying them with the answers given. Yet, they explore the intriguing figure, that is the author – in all his peculiarity, accidentalness and actuality – in a way that can hardly be matched by many other contemporary works. Mikhail Bakhtin once observed that “the process of assimilating real historical time and space in literature has a complicated and erratic history, as does the articulation of actual historical persons in such a time and space” (Bakhtin 1981: 84). The present paper focuses on three such articulations, Coetzee’s autobiographical volumes entitled Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life, Youth and Summertime: Scenes from Provincial Life and investigates their self-referentiality, i.e. a relationship between the ‘real’/historical ‘I’ and the narrated ‘I.’
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    Journalistiek in chique verpakking: Over Nederlandse literaire non-fictie
    (Department of Dutch and South African Studies, Faculty of English, 2012) Mourits, Bertram
    In the 1980s, there was a remarkable rise in what has come to be known as ‘literary non-fiction,’ a genre in which authors (sometimes literary authors, often journalists) told their stories with the use of literary stylistic devices. It was presented as something new by publishers and received as such by the press. Instead of seeing literary non-fiction as a new genre, it makes more sense to trace its history in journalism, especially the New Journalism of the 1950s and 1960s. However, this tradition goes back even further. In the meantime, the popularity of the genre is indicative of a changing attitude towards the relationship between literature and reality.
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    Op zoek naar Afrika: Over Begging to Be Black van Antjie Krog en andere recent verschenen autobiografische teksten van Afrikaanse auteurs
    (Department of Dutch and South African Studies, Faculty of English, 2012) Renders, Luc
    In Afrikaans life writing the most influential factors determining an individual’s life are of a social and political nature. Recently five autobiographical texts by Afrikaans authors have appeared, namely Sonkyker: Afrikaner in die verkeerde eeu (2008) by J.C. Steyn, Reisiger: Die Limietberge oor (2009) by Elsa Joubert, ‘n Vurk in die pad: ‘n Memoir (2009) by André P. Brink, A Veil of Footsteps: Memoir of a Nomadic Fictional Character (2008) by Breyten Breytenbach and Begging to Be Black (2009) by Antjie Krog. They differ substantially in style, content and approach. Steyn, Breytenbach, Joubert, Brink, and Krog tell their own individual stories, which document the close relationship between their lives, their values and literary works. Begging to Be Black by Antjie Krog is the most challenging in its recommendations and the most controversial in its argumentation. One of three main narratives in this patchwork book recounts a murder case in the early nineties into which Krog got unwittingly drawn and about which she published Relaas van ‘n moord (1995). Although Krog’s account of her involvement in the murder case remains basically the same, there are, however, a number of crucial differences. Krog describes the murder case from an altogether different perspective. While in Relaas van ‘n moord she unequivocally states that murder is in all circumstances morally wrong, she now concludes, on the basis of her acceptance of the African ‘interconnectedness-towards-wholeness’ world view, that murder is permissible if it is to the benefit of society. This new interpretation is very problematic and raises a number of fundamental questions. Moreover, the fact that Krog provides a new version of the murder of the Wheetie turns the account of what happened into a product of the writer’s imagination, which also undermines the credibility of the other narrative threads in Begging to Be Black. Begging to Be Black, in spite of its serious shortcomings, clearly demonstrates, along with the four other autobiographical texts, that the identity of Afrikaans authors is largely determined by their commitment to the society in which they have been living.
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    De identiteit van het vreemde: Fictie en non-fictie in het verhaal “Kapitein Christoffel” van László Székely
    (Department of Dutch and South African Studies, Faculty of English, 2012) Pusztai, Gabor
    László Székely was a Hungarian writer and the spouse of Madelon Lulofs, a famous Dutch writer of the 1930’s. After having come to Europe from the Dutch East Indies in 1930, the couple quickly lost their fortune after Székely invested it in his brother’s uncertain business. This was one of the reasons why Lulofs and Székely started to write extensively. Although he did not become as successful as his wife, he still made a significant contribution to Dutch colonial literature. Next to his two novels (Van oerwoud tot plantage from 1935 and Rimboe from 1942), he published twenty short stories in several Hungarian newspapers and periodicals. All of his texts were born out of his experience on a plantation and they are all fine examples of a remarkable crossover between fiction and non-fiction, imagination and historical facts. This also refers to one of his first short stories about an officer in the Atjeh war, captain Christoffel. Christoffel, once a celebrated hero decorated with several medals, is nowadays referred to as a cruel, merciless butcher and a disgrace to the colonial history. In this article, identity is analysed from a postcolonial perspective. Firstly, closer attention is paid to the identity of the text itself, its genre. Does it belong to the category ‘fiction’ or ‘non-fiction’? Secondly, the changing character of the categories ‘strange’ and ‘familiar’ as presented in Székely’s short story will be analysed.
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    “The loneliest spot on Earth”: Harry Mulisch’s Literary Experiment in Criminal Case 40/61
    (Department of Dutch and South African Studies, Faculty of English, 2012) Bax, Sander
    Harry Mulisch’s Criminal Case 40/61 is often regarded as an early representative of the movement of New Journalism and as an example for what we nowadays call ‘literary non-fiction.’ In this essay, I will argue that this classification does not do justice to the complexity of the literary experiments that Mulisch is trying out in this text. In Criminal Case 40/61 Mulisch develops a highly personal and literary way to write about Adolf Eichmann. A problem as complex as the essence of evil, he claims, can not be comprehended with the methods of journalism and history only, the Eichmann enigma calls for a new language. I will outline a number of techniques Mulisch used to achieve this goal. In this text, Mulisch uses an autofictional construction as well as a metaphorical way of thinking and writing that transgresses the journalistic or historicist mimetic-referential and discursive ways of writing. Central to Mulisch’s literary method are two principles: that of the invention of language and images and that of radical identification.
Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego