Title: A Hopeful South African Literature: The Sublime in Etienne van Heerden’s the Long Silence of Mario Salviati
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies and Theory
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Adean van Dyk, University of South Africa, South Africa
Acclaimed Afrikaans author, Etienne van Heerden’s fiction explores the unknown, the taboo and the unimaginable during apartheid, and post-apartheid, South Africa, whilst giving agency to the politically marginalized. I argue that this is partly achieved by means of the Romantic sublime and magic realism, with hope and resilience recognized as a concurring theme within his oeuvre. Recent thinking in metamodernism emphasizes hope as part of its structure of feeling, while also exhibiting neo-Romantic tendencies. Due to the politically engaged nature of South African literature (litteréture engagée) that has been prevalent since the 1960’s, hope has been an established theme since the heyday of its postmodern literary movement. Van Heerden’s novel The Long Silence of Mario Salviati (2000) (English translation 2002) tells the history of the Karoo town Yearsonend by means of an extensive family saga spanning several generations, in which the political and cultural unknown of apartheid South Africa is explored, while also examining the effects thereof in a post-apartheid democratic landscape. Utilizing metamodernism as a structure of feeling with its Romantic sensibility as theoretical frame, an interpretation of the novel by means of the Burkean and Kantian sublime reveals that the exploration of the unknown, the taboo and the unimaginable speaks to a resilience of the South African people, and a hope for a unified future, whether it can be achieved or not.
Conference Comments & FeedbackPlace a comment using your LinkedIn profile
Share this Presentation