Original Research

Het gezicht van de oorlog – het gezicht van de Ander: epifanie van het gelaat in Die son struikel van Dolf van Niekerk

J. Koch
Literator | Vol 24, No 2 | a291 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v24i2.291 | © 2003 J. Koch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 August 2003 | Published: 01 August 2003

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J. Koch, Dept. Afrikaans & Nederlands & Moderne Europese Tale, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Abstract

The face of war – the face of the Other: Epiphany of the visage in Die son struikel by Dolf van Niekerk

Traumatic war experiences are crucial in shaping the identity of Diederik Versveld, the main character in Dolf van Niekerk’s Die son struikel (The sun stumbles). In this article I want to explore the war experience that the protagonist has to deal with, its literary adaptation, and the construction of the protagonist’s identity. I indicate that the three stages of Diederik’s development are closely connected to the concrete philosophic contents of the novel. The thought of Emmanuel Lévinas serves as my interpretative framework. Central to Diederik Versveld’s experience of war is the reduction of the subject to merely and impersonally existing, to il y a (“there is”). In my opion Lévinian concepts are useful in outlining the route to a better understanding of the protagonist’s experience of the war. In analysing the processing of the trauma of war Lévinas’ notion of the epiphany of the face of the Other can be helpful. The encounter with the Other in the faces of other people plays a crucial role in Diederik’s attempt to come to terms with his experiences of war and death. In Totalité et Infini (Lévinas, 1961:188) the French philosopher wrote: “The epiphany of the face unlocks humanity”.

Keywords

Dolf Van Niekerk; Die Son Struikel; Identity; Emmanuel Levinas; Of The Other Epifania Of The Face; War And The Other

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