Eudaimoniese perspektiewe op vriendskap in Die Sneeuslaper van Marlene van Niekerk
Linde, Jannetje Levina
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The Eudaimonic turn: Well-being in Literary Studies (2013), a study by Pawelski et al, sheds light on a recent turn in literary studies. The eudaimonic approach entails that texts are examined with the help of a hermeneutic of affirmation rather than the sceptical, suspicious methods of the deconstruction and post-structuralism. Pawelski et al’s text is drawn upon in this study because it corresponds to the way in which Marlene van Niekerk utilises themes such as relationships, friendship and loss in Die sneeuslaper (2009). The eudaimonic turn focusses on the way in which complex interpersonal connections are able to add to an individual’s well-being through positive as well as negative processes. Die sneeuslaper is mainly a reflection on what it means to be an author. However, it also raises important questions about the nature of being. The four short stories provide different perspectives on friendship, on how friendship can sometimes be problematic and even a nuisance, but also how relations with others repeatedly prove to be beneficial to a person’s well-being. In my study, the relational theme of friendship in Die sneeuslaper is studied from a eudaimonic point of view. Kaja Silverman’s text, Flesh of my Flesh (2009), is referred to in order to shed light on the term relationality. The relational themes of finitude (or mortality) and interpersonal connection are clearly present in Van Niekerk’s text. Although the death of a beloved friend causes trauma in Die sneeuslaper, the trauma proves to have positive effects in the form of posttraumatic growth, comfort and acceptance as time goes by. Comfort is also construed through the creation and appreciation of a work of art like Die sneeuslaper. Cognitive narratology is referenced to show how Marlene van Niekerk overthrows and plays with fixed ideas regarding relationality and friendship, causing the reader to converse with the text. Views on friendship held by thinkers such as Aristotle, Montaigne, Lacan, Kierkegaard and Derrida are referenced to give Van Niekerk’s use of the theme in Die sneeuslaper a certain context. This context represents the fixed frames of thinking generally applicable with regard to friendship. When a reader is willing to critically interpret these as well as personal frames of reference, it provides him or her the opportunity to contemplate reality from new perspectives. In Die sneeuslaper the reader is continually challenged to question existing frames of reference by means of never ending methods (resembling a Möbius-strip) and strange notions. This study concludes with the notion that it is necessary for artists (like the writers in Die sneeuslaper) to reflect differently on reality, so that readers may be inspired to also view reality in a different light. This will result in a broader view of reality, which in turn will have a more defining influence on personal well-being.
- Humanities