Original Research

Die psigologiese identiteit van die bose: Lacan, aggressie en Op soek na generaal Mannetjies Mentz

L. Barnard
Literator | Vol 24, No 2 | a293 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v24i2.293 | © 2003 L. Barnard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 August 2003 | Published: 01 August 2003

About the author(s)

L. Barnard, Departemente Afrikaans, Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit, South Africa

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The psychological identity of evil: Lacan, aggression and Op soek na generaal Mannetjies Mentz

The title of Christoffel Coetzee’s novel Op soek na generaal Mannetjies Mentz introduces a wordplay on Mentz/mens and begs the question: What is man (die “mens”)? Evil as portrayed in this novel can partly be explained by referring to the violent war circumstances, or it can be attributed to the philosophical idea of the “second nature” that Mentz develops in the course of the narrative. I use Lacan’s theory of the formation of identity to explain irrational violence and evil in man. Evil – as seen in this novel – is the result of the following: the pain of a fragmented, suffering body; the identification with an ideal image or leader; the lack of self-reflection; the opposition between “us” and “them”; the Oedipal violence against the parent and the inherent violence of the law.


Identity; Lacan; Op Soek Na Generaal Mannetjies Mentz; Violence


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