'n Ondersoek na Scheherazade as moontlike voorganger in 'n vroulike verteltradisie in enkele Afrikaanse literêre tekste
Thesis (MA (Afrikaans and Dutch))—University of Stellenbosch, 2005.
The aim of this study is to investigate the position that has been allocated to women authors by literary theorists. Some literary theorists are of the opinion that the action of writing can be compared to fatherhood, ownership and being a creator, all of which are male dominated images. Women writers have historically been marginalized by literary theorists, since there is a perception that women cannot write because they are not male. Harold Bloom has postulated that a male writer looks to a precursor in order to write and find his own voice. Before the writer can claim his own, original voice, he must enter into an Oedipal battle with the precusor, and, figuratively speaking, ‘kill’ him in his writing. According to Gilbert & Gubar, who serve here as representatives of the feminist literary theorists, women writers make use of monsterlike figures which serve as metaphors for the inner battle they have to endure to put pen to paper. The problem, however, is that women writers have no (female) precursors to look to. Elaine Showalter postulates 4 models that women writers may use in search of a female precursor or female body of writing, but she does not offer a clear solution. I am of the opinion that women writers can identity with a female figure or role model. The figure that I propose is Scheherazade, a storytelling character from the Thousand and One Nights, who told stories for a thousand and one nights in order for escape death. I identify a few texts from international literature that make use of this figure, whether as a character in the text, a metaphor for the female character who tells stories or as a metaphor for the author herself. This study focuses on texts from 3 genres in Afrikaans literature, namely children’s stories, short stories and a novel. It appears from the analysis of the texts that women writers have successfully made use of the Scheherazade character, to address issues concerning the social role and position allocated to women by a patriarchial society. Along with this women writers’ search and longing for a voice of their own and their own identity gets highlighted with the use of a Scheherazade-like female character who tells stories. Lastly it became clear that this figure is also being used by women writers to contemplate the dynamics of writing and to contextualise the role that self-doubt and self-actualisation play in telling and writing stories. Scheherazade thus becomes a vehicle for finding a voice as well as agency.