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The Final Crossing

Death and Dying in Literature


Edited By John J. Han and Clark C. Triplett

Since ancient times, writers and poets have grappled with death, dying, grief, and mourning in their works. The Final Crossing: Death and Dying in Literature compiles fifteen in-depth, scholarly, and original essays on death and dying in literature from around the globe and from different time periods. Written from a variety of critical perspectives, the essays target both scholars and serious students. Death and dying is an important area of study for a variety of disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, sociology, gerontology, medical ethics, healthcare science, health law, and literary studies. The Final Crossing is a landmark compendium of academic essays on death and dying in literary texts, such as the Iliad, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, Hamlet, The Secret Garden, and The Grapes of Wrath. This collection of essays not only brings an international flavor, but also a unique angularity to the discourse on thanatology. The novelty of perspectives reflects the diverse cultural and intellectual backgrounds of the contributors. This diversity opens up a fresh conversation on a number of age-old questions related to «the final crossing.» In this volume, readers will find an intriguing array of topics for further reflection and research.
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Chapter One: Gravesites in the Stories of Herman Charles Bosman: An Exploration of History, Memory, Ritual, Identity, and Landscape


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Gravesites IN THE Stories OF Herman Charles Bosman

An Exploration of History, Memory, Ritual, Identity, and Landscape



Herman Charles Bosman (1905–51) was a South African writer who wrote mainly in English about small-town Afrikaners. His short stories appeared regularly in local literary periodicals and have more recently been published in edited collections of his works. Many of Bosman’s stories are situated within the South African War1 period and its aftermath. Stories of death and burial occur repetitively in his narratives, yet very little has been written about this aspect of Bosman’s oeuvre. Burial sites in the selected stories that follow serve as repositories of memory and history, and as presences in the South African landscape. The grave, as Gitte Postel explains, is “the tangible point where historical, geographical, economical, and ritual time and space coalesce” (105). It is with reference to this definition that the significance of death, burial, and mourning will be investigated in four of Bosman’s stories in particular: “Veld Story” (2000 [posthumous]), “Brown Mamba” (1935), “Funeral Earth” (1950), and “Unto Dust” (1949).

For each of the stories examined, the narration of burial or the significance of death with regard to the story as a whole will be considered. What do family graveyards in the South African veld signify on a deep, cultural level? What is loss? What is lost? What remains? Who remembers? What...

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