Verwonding, verwoording en verwerking : ʼn beskouing van Henning J. Pieterse se kortverhaalbundel Omdat ons alles is vanuit ʼn terapeutiese perspektief

Bezuidenhout, Suzanne-Louise (2009-03)

Thesis (MA (Afrikaans and Dutch))—University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


When reading Henning J. Pieterse’s work the reader is confronted by a sombre central theme, that of loss. Loss manifests itself in different ways in his oeuvre, but the most notable forms of loss are as result of the ending of a love affair or death. A second noticeable theme in Pieterse’s work is art and artistry, specifically the creative writing process. In my opinion these themes are most evident in his 1998 collection of short stories Omdat ons alles is (Because we are everything). The main premise in this collection of short stories is the suicide of the beloved wife and the accompanying feelings of loss and grief. The male characters in these stories struggle with processing and accepting loss - loss due the suicide of a beloved wife or due to the ending of a relationship. Various attempts are made to forget the loss and to numb the pain. The characters turn to alcohol, drugs and sex as ways of trying to work through or process the loss, but these methods only bring temporary relief. These self-destructive methods op escapism are contrasted with the constructive act of writing. At the same time the journey to psychic recovery and the processing of trauma becomes a creative journey. By expressing trauma through writing about wounding experiences there is striven to process it. The processing of trauma by means of literary narratives is often extremely exhausting and distressing. In the act of writing about trauma, painful memories that are repressed in the psyche are brought to the surface. In this thesis Omdat ons alles is is viewed from a therapeutic perspective to establish whether the act of writing plays a part in the processing of trauma. Narrative therapy is concerned with the finding of words and language to communicate trauma by creating a story in which the meaning and coherence that trauma destroys, can be recaptured. Trauma destroys the meaning and coherence of a life story and leaves the individual powerless and confused, but by finding words to communicate trauma, there is a positive movement in the direction of dealing with and accepting loss. In Omdat ons alles is Pieterse maps the journey of working through loss and trauma, but in these stories it is also emphasised that this journey is by no means a joyride. In the end it seems that the act of writing does play a part in the processing of trauma, but to which extent, remains an open question.

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