oa Litnet Akademies : 'n Joernaal vir die Geesteswetenskappe, Natuurwetenskappe, Regte en Godsdienswetenskappe - Musiekgeskiedenis en fiksie : Hans Holleman en Arnold van Wyk in Holmer Johanssen se roman Gety

Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1995-5928



Music history and fiction : Hans Holleman and Arnold van Wyk in Holmer Johanssen's Novel GetyIn 1938 Unie-Volkspers Beperk in Cape Town published an Afrikaans novel by Holmer Johanssen (pseudonym of the anthropologist Hans Holleman). The title of this literary debut by Johanssen was Gety (""Tide""), a work overshadowed by his 1944 book Die Onterfdes (""The Disinherited""), but still remembered as exemplary of the influence of the Neue Sachlichkeit in Afrikaans. From a musicological perspective the novel is important because of the way in which it connects the cultural life of Cape Town in the 1930s with music. This article starts by considering examples and, by extension, modalities of the intersection between fiction and music history. South African precedents are listed and briefly discussed before the focus turns to Johanssen's Gety in the second section of the article. By combining a reading of Gety and primary documents from the Arnold van Wyk collection in the J.S. Gericke Library at Stellenbosch University, this section links characters and events in Gety with documented historical figures and events, thus providing Johanssen's novel with a previously unknown autobiographical and historical context. Special attention is paid to Johanssen's descriptionption of a string quartet performance in Cape Town, and how this could relate to the youthful string quartets in Arnold van Wyk's juvenilia. The hypothesis is considered that Johanssen descriptionbes the first performance of Van Wyk's E minor String Quartet in his novel. In addition to connecting this and other events in this novel with documents in the Van Wyk collection, the article provides a systematic perspective on the development of Van Wyk's interest in the string quartet medium, contextualising his more mature string quartet writing found in the Five Elegies for String Quartet (1941) and the First String Quartet (1946). A window of mimetic truth is thus opened on the early compositional production of Arnold van Wyk and aspects of his personal life. Following Paul Ricoeur's theorisation of the connections between historical time and fictive time in Time and Narrative, the last and third section of the article poses the general question on the relationship between history and fiction in order to speculate on how these two narrative traditions co-exist and are interwoven. The possibility is considered that Gety, because of its fictional conceit, could provide an alternative view of historical reality to that made possible by music historiography.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error