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Die historisiteit van resente Afrikaanse historiese fiksie oor die Anglo-Boereoorlog

F Pretorius


The historicity of recent Afrikaans historical fiction on the Anglo-Boer War

Authors of creative writing in the Afrikaans language find a rich source of dramatic material in the  Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902. Themes from this war that lend themselves superbly to be woven into historical novels and short stories, are the concentration camps (where 28 000 Boer civilians died); the bitterness that plagued Afrikaners in the aftermath of the war; the pride in Boer heroism on the battlefield; important historical figures; treason that lurked in Boer ranks; the relations, usually fraught, with the British, with black people, with fellow-burghers and those with Boer women, often at an  individual level. Then there were the experiences of prisoners of war; and the Boers’ heartfelt  religiosity—on the one hand the deepening of the spiritual experience and on the other the incidence of apostasy; the disillusionment of defeat; and the challenge of reconstruction after the war. In this paper recent historical fiction that has appeared since 1998 from distinguished Afrikaans writers on the Anglo-Boer War is assessed to establish its historical authenticity. The author determines whether what is portrayed is historically correct; what was possible but verges on the improbable, and what is factually incorrect. The works of Christoffel Coetzee, Ingrid Winterbach, Sonja Loots, P.G. du Plessis, Karel Schoeman, Zirk van den Berg, Margaret Bakkes, Jeanette Ferreira, Engela van Rooyen and Eleanor Baker are assessed. Finally, an attempt is made to indicate the fruits of co-operation between the writer of historical fiction, the publisher and the historian.

Keywords: Afrikaans historical fiction, Anglo-Boer War, historical authenticity.