n Stilet : Tydskrif van die Afrikaanse Letterkundevereniging - “Maniere van sien waarvan jy nog nie die vaagste benul het nie” : mistiek in Die aanspraak van lewende wesens deur Ingrid Winterbach

Volume 29 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1013-4573


Although Linelle Foster (2008:3) convincingly argues that Ingrid Winterbach’s oeuvre is characterised by a “certain mystical trend”, comprehensive discussions of the role of mysticism in Winterbach’s work is limited to the novels Karolina Ferreira (1993), Landskap met vroue en slang (1996) (both published under the pseudonymn Lettie Viljoen), Buller se plan and Die boek van toeval en toeverlaat (translated as The Book of Happenstance). In the light of this hiatus, this article explores the various representations of mysticism and more specifically mystical experiences in Winterbach’s 2012-novel Die aanspraak van lewende wesens (translated as It might get loud). Attention is given not only to the role that the mystical tradition and mystical experiences play on narrative level, but also the way in which mystical experiences are embedded in the structure, language and style of the novel. Furthermore, the question is asked why Winterbach draws on such a vast array of mystical traditions – such as Christian, Kabbalistic (Jewish), Sufi and Zen Buddhist mysticism – in the novel. A careful analysis of Die aanspraak van lewende wesens shows that, instead of a rigid distinction between mystical traditions, Winterbach’s work rather speaks of a palimpsest of overlapping features from various mystical traditions. It also becomes clear that Winterbach employs many characteristics of the so-called traveller’s tale (journey) as a means of portraying characters’ desired union with the unseen/divine. A core component of the novel is the intentional reflection and weighing up of different narrative strands according to which meaning and purpose in life can be found, without ultimately proposing a single, unifying “master narrative”.

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