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n Literator : Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies - Mitisiteit as basis vir vergelykende literatuurstudie, met verwysing na waterslangsimboliek : research article

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Abstract


Mythicity can be defined as the deliberate intention of probing the numinous dimensions of human existence by means of literature, i.e. mainly narrative forms. In this article the water snake is chosen as prominent archetypal symbol in order to investigate the functioning of mythicity. The water snake is an important symbol in the Southern African context, with its origins in Khoesan ritual and mythology. Recently several stories about water snakes and related mythological creatures have been published in Afrikaans novels and short stories. The water snake has also assimilated influences, inter alia from European, Asian and other African cultures. In this article the potential of mythicity is specifically investigated insofar as it can be utilised as basis for comparative literature. For this purpose the numinous dimensions of a mythic story are treated as equally important as the narrative dimensions. This dialectical balance is therefore used as the main criterion for the comparison of mythic texts. Other related aspects are discussed, namely the importance of the historical context, Jung's theory of archetypes and the unconscious, and the role of interpretational devices such as metaphor, metonymy, symbolism and allegory. If the balance between numinosity and narrativity is not maintained, the mythic potential of a text is usually reduced. When writers succeed in utilising mythicity as an "open", dynamic interpretational process, mythic relevance can still be guaranteed within a present-day, postmodern context.

Mitisiteit kan gedefinieer word as die doelbewuste intensie om die numineuse dimensies van die menslike bestaan deur middel van literatuur - hoofsaaklik narratiewe vorme - te peil. Vir die doel van hierdie artikel is die waterslang as prominente argetipiese simbool gekies ten einde die funksionering van mitisiteit te ondersoek. Dit is 'n belangrike simbool binne die Suider-Afrikaanse konteks, met sy oorspronge in Khoesaan-rituele en die mitologie. Relatief onlangs het talle verhale oor waterslange en verwante mitologiese wesens in die Afrikaanse prosa verskyn. Die waterslang het ook invloede van onder meer die Europese, Asiatiese en ander Afrikakulture geassimileer. Die potensiaal van mitisiteit word in hierdie artikel spesifiek ondersoek vir sover dit benut kan word as basis vir vergelykende literatuurstudie. Vir dié doel is die numineuse dimensies van die mitiese verhaal net so belangrik as die narratiewe dimensies. Hierdie dialektiese balans word daarom aangewend as die hoofkriterium vir die vergelyking van mitiese tekste. Ander verwante aspekte word bespreek, naamlik die belangrikheid van die historiese konteks, Jung se teorie oor argetipes en die onbewuste, en die rol van interpretasiemeganismes soos metafoor, metonimie, simboliek en allegorie. Indien die balans tussen numinositeit en narratiwiteit nie gehandhaaf word nie, word die mitiese potensiaal van 'n teks meestal verskraal. Wanneer skrywers wel daarin slaag om mitisiteit as 'n "oop", dinamiese interpretatiewe proses te ontgin, kan mitiese relevansie binne die huidige, postmoderne konteks steeds gewaarborg word.

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/content/literat/25/1/EJC61776
2004-04-01
2016-12-05
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