Literary challenges to the heroic myth of the Voortrekkers : H.P. Lamont's War, wine and women and Stuart Cloete's Turning wheels

Hale, Frederick (2001-12)

Thesis (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation is an interdisciplinary study of various historical novels which dealt to a greater or lesser degree with the Great Trek and were written between the 1840s and the 1930s in Dutch, Afrikaans and English but with particular emphasis on H.P. Lamont's War, Wine and Women and Stuart Cloete's Turning Wheels (1937). The analysis of all these fictional reconstructions focuses on the portrayal of the Voortrekkers found in them. Much attention is also paid to the historical contexts in which the two principal works in question were written and the great controversies which they occasioned because both of their authors had had the temerity to challenge the long-established myth of the heroic Voortrekkers, one of the holiest of the iconic cows in the barns of their Afrikaner descendants. Chapter I, "Introduction", is a statement of the purpose of the study, its place in the context of analyses of the history of Afrikaner nationalism, its structure and the sources on which it is based. Chapter II, "The Unfolding of the Myth of the Heroic Voortrekkers", traces its evolution from the 1830s to the 1930s and explores how both English-speaking South Africans and Afrikaners, especially Gustav PrelIer, purposefully contributed to it. Also highlighted in this chapter is the significance of the Great Trek Centenary and the events leading up to it in the middle and late 1930s in intensifying Afrikaner nationalism. Chapter III, "The Heroic Myth in Early Dutch and Afrikaans Novels about the Great Trek", considers especially how these works were used as vehicles for placing before Afrikaners the historic virtues of their ancestors both to provide models for emulation and to stimulate their ethnic pride. Chapter IV, "Sympathetic English Reconstructions of the Great Trek", deals with two novels, Eugenie de Kalb's Far Enough and Francis Brett Young's They Seek a Country, both of which reproduced the heroic myth to some extent. Chapter V, "Rendezvous with Disaster? The South Africa in Which Lamont Wrote War, Wine and Women" establishes the context of intensifying Afrikaner nationalism which this immigrant from the United Kingdom encountered in the late 1920s when he accepted a lectureship at the University of Pretoria and why this context was hostile to a novel which was critical of Afrikanerdom. Chapter VI, "Wa1~ Wine and Women: Its General Context and Commentary on South Africa" explores how this work, conceived as a "war book" dealing with the 1914-1918 conflict in Europe, depicted both Englishmen and Afrikaners negatively. Chapter VII, "Academic Freedom vs. Afrikaner Nationalism: The Consequential Strife over War, Wine and Women" deals with the hostile reception of Lamont's pseudonymously published novel, the physical assault on him and his dismissal from his lectureship at the University of Pretoria. Chapter VIII, "The Rhetoric of Revenge in Lamont's Halcyon Days in Africa", explores how the author, after relurning lo England, used his pen as a weapon for striking back al his Afrikaans foes in South Africa. Chapter IX, "Stuart Cloete's Portrayal of the Voortrekkers in Turning U'heels", focuses on the portrayal of various ethnic types in his gallery of characters. Chapter X, "The Con troversy over Turning U'heels", handles the hostile and apparently orchestrated reaction to Cloete's book and how it was eventually banned. Chapter XI, "Conclusion: Quod Eral Demonstrandum", summarises several thematic findings which a detailed examination of the novels in their historical context yields.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie verhandeling is 'n interdissiplinêre studie van verskeie historiese romans waarin daar in 'n mindere ofmeerdere mate op die Groot Trek gefokus word en wat geskryfis tussen die 1840's en die 1930's in Nederlands, Afrikaans en Engels, maar met die klem op H. P. Lamont se War, Wine and Wamen en Stuart Cloete se Turning Wheels (1937) in die besonder. Die analise van al hierdie fiktiewe rekonstruksies fokus op die uitbeelding van die Voortrekkers daarin. Daar word ook in die besonder aandag gegee aan die historiese kontekste waarbinne hierdie twee hoofwerke geskryfis en die groot polemiek daarrondom, omdat beide outeurs die vermetelheid gehad het om die lank reeds gevestigde mite van die heldhaftige Voortrekkers, een van die heiligste ikoniese koeie in die skure van die Afrikanernageslagte, uit te daag. Hoofstuk I, "Introduction", stel die doel van die studie, waar dit staan in die konteks van analises van die geskiedenis van Afrikanernasionalisme, die skruktuur en die bronne waarop dit gebaseer is. Hoofstuk II, "The Unfolding of the Myth of the Herioc Voortrekkers", volg die evolusie van Afrikanernasionalisme van die 1830's tot die 1930's en ondersoek op beide Engelssprekende Suid-Afrikaners en Afrikaners, veral Gustav Preller, doelgerig hiertoe bygedra het. In hierdie hoofstuk word daar ook beklemtoon hoe betekenisvol die honderdjarige herdenking van die Groot Trek en die gebeure wat daartoe aanleiding gegee het gedurende die middel- en laat 1930's, bygedra het tot die versterking van Afrikanernasionalisme. Hoofstuk III, "The Heroic Myth in Early Dutch and Afrikaans Novels about the Great Trek", bespreek veral hoe hierdie werke gebruik is om aan Afrikaners die historiese deugsaamheid van hulle voorvaders voor te hou en wat as voorbeelde moet dien wat nagestreef moet word en om hulle etniese trots te stimuleer. Hoofstuk IV, "Sympathetic English Reconstructions of the Great Trek", bespreek twee romans, Far Enough van Eugenie de Kalb en TheySeek a Country van Francis Brett Young, wat altwee die heroïse mite in 'n sekere mate herproduseer. Hoofstuk V, "Rendezvous with Disaster? The South Africa in Which Lamont Wrote War, Wine and Women" vestig die konteks van groeiende Afrikanernasionalisme wat hierdie immigrant van die Verenigde Koninkryk in die laat 1920's teëgekom het toe hy 'n lektoraat aan die Universiteit van Pretoria aanvaar het, en hoekom hierdie konteks vyandiggesind was teenoor 'n roman wat krities was teenoor die Afrikanerdom. Hoofstuk VI, "Wa1~ Wine and Women: Its General Context and Commentary on South Africa" ondersoek hoe hierdie werk, beskou as 'n "oorlogsboek" wat handeloor die 1914-1918 konflik in Europa, beide die Engelse en die Afrikaners in 'n negatiewe lig gestel het. Hoofstuk VII, "Academic Freedom vs. Afrikaner Nationalism: The Consequential Strife over War, Wine and Women" skenk aandag aan die vyandige ontvangs van Lamont se roman (gepubliseer onder 'n skuilnaam), die fisieke aanval op hom en sy ontslag as lektor van die Universiteit van Pretoria. Hoofstuk VIII, "The Rhetoric of Revenge in Lamont's Halcyon Days inAfrica", ondersoekhoe die outeur, na hy na Engeland teruggekeer het, sy pen as wapen gebruik het in 'n teenaanval op sy Afrikaanse vyande in Suid-Afrika. Hoofstuk IX, "Stuart Cloete's Portrayal of the Voortrekkers in Turning Wheels", fokus op die uitbeelding van verskeie etniese tipes in sy gallery karakters. Hoofstuk X, "The Controversy over Tumng Wheels", bespreek die vyandige en klaarblyklike georkestreerde reaksie op Cloete se boek, en hoe dit uiteindelik verban is. Hoofstuk XI, "Conclusion: Quod Era! Demonstrandum", bied 'n opsomming van verskei tematiese bevindinge aan, wat deur 'n gedetaileerde ondersoek van die romans opgelewer is.

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