Fremde Schreiben : Zu Ilija Trojanows Roman Der Weltensammler (2006)

De Beer, Amanda Erika (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010-03)

Thesis (MA (Modern Foreign Languages))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation investigates the different forms of otherness and alterity (“Fremde”) in Bulgarian born German author, Ilija Trojanow’s novel, Der Weltensammler (2006). In this novel, alterity, as portrayed by Trojanow, is read as threatening and uncanny (“unheimlich”), on the one hand, and fascinating on the other. The novel, Der Weltensammler, translated by William Hobson and published under the title The Collector of Worlds (2008), narrates the life of the historical figure Sir Richard Francis Burton. Burton, a colonist, traveller and explorer, undertakes a journey across continents: British-India, Arabia and East Africa. As one of the first Europeans to do so, Burton - disguised and converted to Islam - undertakes a pilgrimage to Mecca. Like the title of the novel suggests, Burton is a contradictory man who not only collects worlds, but also obsessively adopts the cultures of the colonised. However, this British officer’s bizarre lifestyle and unusual ability to adapt to and adopt the foreign world raises certain questions regarding the relationship between coloniser and colonised. More importantly, he grapples with the portrayal of otherness. Throughout the novel both the narrator and a writer (the Lahiya) try to put together the pieces of Burton’s life. As the narrator warns in the preface of his novel, Burton remains an enigma. His antipodes are another historical figure, the former slave Sidi Mubarak Bombay and his servant Naukaram. Unlike in Burton’s and Stanley’s travel diaries where Bombay takes a marginalised position, he comes to the fore in Der Weltensammler. Though Burton appears to become part of the foreign world, it is the change of narrative perspectives between coloniser and colonised that puts their relation into question, thereby dissolving binary opposites. This thesis begins with a general discussion of the novel and its significance within German post-colonial literature. The study moves on to a discussion of the discourses surrounding the concept of alterity, identifying one key form of alterity, namely mimicry, a term borrowed from the theorist Homi K. Bhabha. The greater part of the thesis is devoted to the analysis of the novel. The first part deals with the analysis of alterity and otherness by focussing attention on the portrayal of otherness as threatening and fascinating, the concept of mimicry, and finally, Burton’s transformation. The second part investigates the process of re-writing that takes place and the manner in which alterity is portrayed in the novel paying particular attention to the relation between author, writer and narrator. Following this analysis of alterity and its rewriting, this thesis moves to the more general question of how Ilija Trojanow’s novel, Der Weltensammler, functions as a refutation (Gegenschrift/Kampfabsage) of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Relying on the words of Stephen Slemon, this study finally questions whether this novel can be read as another “scramble for post-colonialism”. Based on the theoretical framework developed on the concept of culture by Homi K. Bhabha on the one hand and the insights on cultures by Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski on the other, this study demonstrates how it is through the processes of revision and re-writing of literary borrowings, e.g. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899), that the concept of alterity is redefined and the novel in itself gains a post-colonial voice. Furthermore, this thesis shows how otherness is deconstructed to such an extent that it is not difference that is highlighted, but instead a literary model for the co-existence of cultures.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis is ‘n studie van die verskillende fasette van vreemde, die onbekende en alteriteit (“Fremde”) in die Duits-Bulgaarse skrywer, Ilija Trojanow se roman Der Weltensammler (2006). In hierdie roman word alteriteit, soos deur Trojanow uitgebeeld, gelees as bedreigend en unheimlich, en gelyktydig as fassinerend. Die Roman, Der Weltensammler, deur William Hobson vertaal as The Collector of Worlds (2008), beskryf die lewe van die historiese figuur Sir Richard Francis Burton. Hy onderneem as kolonis en ontdekkingsreisiger ‘n reis regoor verskeie kontinente: Brits-Indië, Arabië en Oos-Afrika. Vermom en bekeer tot Islam, onderneem hy as een van die eerste Europeërs ‘n pelgrimstog na Mekka. Soos deur die titel van die roman gesuggereer word, is Burton op sigself ’n ambivalente karakter wat nie net wêrelde nie, maar ook die kulture van die gekoloniseerdes approprieer. Dit is juis hierdie Britse offisier se vreemde leefstyl en buitengewone vermoë om die vreemde toe te eien, wat sekere vrae ten opsigte van die verhouding tussen die kolonisator en die gekoloniseerde laat ontstaan. Van grootste belang vir hierdie analise is veral die uitbeelding van die vreemde. Deurgaans poog die verteller en ‘n skribent (die Lahiya) om uitsluitsel oor Burton se lewe te kry. Soos die verteller alreeds in die voorwoord van sy roman waarsku, bly Burton egter ‘n enigma. Sy teenpole is die ander minder bekende historiese figuur, die gemarginaliseerde en voormalige slaaf Sidi Mubarak Bombay en sy bediende Naukaram. Anders as in onder andere Burton en Stanley se reisbeskrywings waar Bombay slegs ‘n randverskynsel is, kry hy nuwe betekenis in Trojanow se roman. Ofskoon Burton deel van die vreemde blyk te word, word die verhouding tussen die kolonisator en die gekoloniseerde veral bevraagteken deur die verandering van narratiewe perspektiewe. Terselfdertyd word binêre opposisies gedekonstrueer. Die tesis word ingelei deur ‘n algemene oorsig van die roman en sy betekenis binne die konteks van Duitse postkoloniale literatuur. Na afloop van die oorsig, volg ‘n bespreking van die diskoerse rondom die konsep alteriteit. Die klem val hier veral op een spesifieke vorm van alteriteit, naamlik mimiek, ‘n term ontleen aan die teoretikus Homi K. Bhabha. Die grootste deel van die tesis word gewy aan die analise van die roman. In die eerste deel van die analise word die konsep alteriteit onder die loep geneem. Die klem val hier veral op die uitbeelding van die vreemde as bedreigend en fassinerend, mimiek and laastens Burton se gedaanteverwisseling. Die tweede deel van die analise fokus deurentyd op die verhouding tussen die skrywer, skribent en verteller en bestudeer veral die herskrywingsproses (re-writing) wat plaasvind en die wyse waarop alteriteit beskryf word. Deur die loop van die studie volg die meer algemene vraagstuk van hoe Ilija Trojanow se roman Der Weltensammler beskou kan word as ‘n weerlegging (Gegenschrift/Kampfabsage) van Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Laastens word op Stephen Slemon se algemene vraagstuk gesteun of die roman beskou kan word as ‘n “scramble for postcolonialism”. Hierdie analise word volgens die teoretiese raamwerke van twee outeurs nl. Homi K. Bhabha en die Poolse verslaggewer Ryszard Kapuscinski ondersoek. Dit is veral deur die proses revisie en die herskrywing van literêre ontlenings, bv. Joseph Conrad se Heart of Darkness (1899), dat die begrip alteriteit geherdefinieer word en die roman op sigself ‘n postkoloniale perspektief inneem.Vervolgens word die begrippe vreemde en alteriteit tot so ‘n mate gedekonstrueer deurdat die aandag nie op ongelykheid val nie, maar ‘n literêre model vir die naasbestaan van kulture ontskep word.

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