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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Identity, gender, and land in Marlene van Niekerk's 'Agaat'
Author:Fourie, Reinhardt
Periodical:The English Academy Review (ISSN 1753-5360)
Geographic term:South Africa
literary criticism
About person:Marlene Van Niekerk (1954-)ISNI
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/10131752.2016.1153572
Abstract:The relationships between land and identity are important themes in the plaasroman (farm novel), a subgenre to which Marlene van Niekerk writes back in her novel 'Agaat' (2004). In this article, the author explores identity, land and gender in Agaat. He offers a discussion of the ways in which identity and land are inextricably linked in the normative plaasroman, and within this vein, considers the case of Agaat. While focussing on the traditional relationship between patriarchy and the farm, the author also refers to the notion of the volksmoeder (literally mother of the nation or people) - a role that Milla attempts to break free from. Through a close reading of the text, he then considers how the relationship with the land - and specifically farming land - is used as a textual device to problematize the gender relations on the fictional farm Grootmoedersdrift. In particular, he considers how the characters Milla and Jak's different approaches to farming on Grootmoedersdrift, both multifaceted and threaded through the entire novel, serve as the basic axis around which their relationship revolves. As a kind of self-aware plaasroman that weaves problematized notions of gender identity through the narrative, Van Niekerk's novel offers a nuanced representation of how gendered power is enacted and subverted in the attachment to and cultivation of farming land and the body. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]