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’n Boer in beton: Hierdie huis deur Kleinboer

H.P. van Coller

Abstract


English Title: To farm in concrete: Hierdie huis (This House) by Kleinboer

English Abstract

This review article is an attempt to interpret and evaluate the novel Hierdie huis within a specific context, namely that of urban writing. This is done first and foremost with reference to Afrikaans literature, but also in a wider context with reference to English South African literature (e.g. Ivan Vladislavic) and to relevant theories like that of the city dweller (flâneur) in the critical writings of Walter Benjamin. In recent Dutch literature several novels have been published (amongst others by Marc Reugebrink and Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer) that share certain motifs and strategies with Kleinboer’s trilogy and they are discussed in greater detail. In this article the focus is on this third novel in what ostensibly is a coherent trilogy or prose cycle and not primarily a rejection of the traditional Afrikaans farm novel as often is asserted by literary critics; in actual fact it is a creative renewal of this genre, although often in a parodical fashion. In conclusion this novel is described as typical of “metamodernism” in its quest for meaningful moral and philosophical “master” narratives, rejected in postmodernism. In this novel the main character recognizes The Other as a fellow human-being and his etymological quests stresses hybridity which implies that linguistic (or racial) purity is a farce. Postcolonial métissage is central in this novel and the conclusion is that the forming of new identities has seldom (or never) been described in Afrikaans literature as in this trilogy.

Keywords: flâneur, metamodernism, postcolonial métissage, satirical travelogue, urban writing




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