Death and Dying in Literature
Edited By John J. Han and Clark C. Triplett
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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