n English in Africa - Dionysian daydreaming : (re)creating community in Marlene van Niekerk's Memorandum
|Article Title||Dionysian daydreaming : (re)creating community in Marlene van Niekerk's Memorandum|
|© Publisher:||Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA)|
|Journal||English in Africa|
|Affiliations||1 University of KwaZulu-Natal|
|Publication Date||Dec 2014|
|Pages||57 - 78|
Marlene van Niekerk's second novel, Agaat, ends in aporia with the frame narrator, Jakkie, at a "frozen interval" (692). The closing paragraphs of the novel include a cryptic extract from a Danish poem by Nis Petersen (1897-1943) entitled "Natteregn" ("Night Rain"), which describes the culmination of a gentle breeze rising up into "fanfarer / til natten åbenbarer [. . .]" ("fanfare / until night reveals [. . .]") (692). What exactly the night will reveal remains a mystery, as Jakkie offers no revelation. He speaks of "the fantasy of a song, an alternative reply" (to the mother-daughter narrative of Milla and Agaat), and mentions an Aeolian harp and "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" (symbols of creative inspiration) (4, 8, 692). But the reader is left waiting in suspense with only his suggestions of divine afflatus, implicit in the Aeolian harp and "Natteregn" extract. In the end he offers no song or symphony. However, before Jakkie closes his eyes to fall asleep on the plane his final thoughts are "[p]lectrum and harp" (692), suggesting the possibility of creative activity, albeit "frozen" and forestalled. In this way, Agaat's ending is a prelude to Van Niekerk's third novel, Memorandum: A Story with Paintings. Jakkie's fantasies of nocturnal revelation, musical composition and exercising creative arts are realised in Memorandum, and crystallised in the final prose poem of the novel: "Passacaglia". This essay focuses on the ending of Memorandum.
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