Title page for ETD etd-08272002-142815

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Pelser, Abraham Christoffel
Email acp00001@pixie.co.za
URN etd-08272002-142815
Document Title Die literÍre biografie - 'n terreinverkenning (Afrikaans)
Degree MA (Afrikaans)
Department Afrikaans
Advisor Name Title
Prof PH Roodt
  • biografiese geskiedskrywing
  • biografie
  • Afrikaanse letterkunde
  • Amerikaanse biografieŽ
  • Engelse biografieŽ
  • English biographies
  • theory of historiography
  • biography
  • biographic historiography
  • historiography
  • Leon Rousseau
  • JC Steyn
  • American biographies
  • JC Kannemeyer
  • Afrikaans literature
  • teorie van geskiedskrywing
Date 2001-06-30
Availability unrestricted
This study endeavours to research the field of literary historiography in general and specifically biographic historiography. In South Africa this genre has a limited tradition. Apart from a few diffused contributions by specialists in technical and other publications, and the essays by Hennie Aucamp in Beeltenis verbode and J.C. Kannemeyer in Getuigskrifte and Ontsyferde stene, very little research has been done in South Africa in this field.

Chapter one expounds the research methodology. It briefly states the definition of the problem, as well as the goal orientation and the delimitation of the field of study, actuality, hypotheses and structural development.

Chapter two affords the theoretical foundation of literary and more specifically biographic historiography. The concept "biography" is defined. The modern biography and its characteristics and structure are scrutinized in terms of different theoretical criteria. Finally this chapter contem-plates some problems experienced by contemporary biographers.

Chapter three is an overview which sets out the history of biographic historiography from the most ancient times, during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the 16th to the 20th century. Biographic historiography in the USA is closely researched. Major achievements and the most important texts which influenced the genre are emphasized. The contributions of notable bio-graphers such as James Boswell and Lytton Strachey are highlighted.

Chapter four is the core of this dissertation. Initially it contemplates biographic historiography in South Africa in general. Thereafter it researches literary biographies in depth. The earliest comprehensive literary biography in Afrikaans, Ds. S.J. du Toit in weg en werk by Totius, is discussed. Attention is drawn to Leon Rousseau's biography of EugŤne N. Marais, which, in 1974, ushered in the true beginning of this tradition in Afrikaans. Subsequently the biographies of V.E. d'Assonville on Totius and S.J. du Toit are discussed. The major part of this chapter is devoted to the oeuvre of J.C. Kannemeyer, who probably made the most important contribution in this field with his comprehensive biographies on D.J. Opperman, C.J. Langenhoven, and C. Louis Leipoldt. Finally J.C. Steyn's monumental description of the life of N.P. van Wyk Louw, in two volumes, is discussed. The discussion and evaluation of these texts are set out narratively and comparatively. The said biographies are evaluated according to different biographic theories.

Chapter five, a concise chapter, evaluates the hypotheses set out at the beginning of this research. Furthermore it is indicated that the field of biographic historiography in South Africa is still not properly exploited. Suggestions for further research are given.

South Africa is a multi-ethnic country and contradictory political, cultural, socio-economic and language interests are not uncommon. Biographies could contribute to mutual understanding of these diversities, as manifested in J.C. Steyn's Van Wyk Louw: 'n Lewensverhaal. Perhaps at present research in this field is crucial.

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