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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
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DE VRIES, Anastasia. Plume seed blown further: Reimagining Van Wyk Louw in a Catholic context. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.2, pp.450-462. ISSN 2224-7912.

Research has shown that, 50 years after Van Wyk Louw's death, poets, writers and other artists who rewrite, recreate or cite his work still engage with him in literary and cultural discourses, so granting him a powerful voice even from the grave. Against this background, this Catholic speaker of Afrikaans has become very aware of a Catholic gap in these discourses. Admittedly, this gap can be attributed to a lack of knowledge about his ties with the Catholic Church in South Africa, particularly with regard to the development of an Afrikaans that reflects, expresses and propagates the Catholic Christian faith and beliefs. This contribution aims to fill that gap by drawing attention to how and why Van Wyk Louw remains a factor in a Catholic context. Terblanche (2017) cites Van Rensburg (1969), who maintained that Van Wyk Louw's Berei in die woestyn: 'n Sinne- en wa-spel ("Prepare in the desert: A senses and wagon play") reminds us, as did Die pluimsaad waai ver, to pause amid the glory in order to reflect on the forgotten things, too - and on the things that remain unsaid or concealed, even though they have not (yet) been recorded in the history of the Afrikaans language or (still) do not form part of broader or more nuanced cultural discourses, things such as the "pluimsaad" - the seed from plumes - that have been blown further and are sprouting in the Catholic Church. However, the study is not aimed at re-evaluating or deconstructing the existing literature in which a Catholic thread in his work and thought processes is analysed and/or discussed. My focus is the cultural debt the Catholic Church and especially her Afrikaans speakers owe Van Wyk Louw. Together with other prominent Afrikaans writers such as Karel Schoeman, Sheila Cussons and Martin Versveld his work created a critical awareness that a Catholic Christian faith and culture could be expressed in and through Afrikaans too. Van Wyk Louw, along with Catholic priests such as fathers Frans Claerhout (painter) and Bonaventure Hinwood (poet, also known by his pseudonym Hinwood Visser), helped to shine light on a Catholic world in a Protestant South African society in which Catholic Christians have often been labelled, stigmatised and marginalised as the "Roomse Gevaar" ("Roman [Catholic] peril"). In view of the above, my focus is that which lies beyond a critical awareness or the identification of a Catholic gap in the cultural discourse: a space in which Van Wyk Louw can be reimagined as a Catholic "place of memory". Pertinent is the viewpoint that a critical approach has two sides: on the one hand it means demystifying or deconstructing that which is not documented or left out, and, on the other, it means creating a critical awareness that there may be alternatives, and therefore a more nuanced discourse (about Van Wyk Louw's legacy). Underpinning this is Foucault's (1973) conception that every dominant view of reality is but one possibility among many others. This contribution does not intend to reject or erase the existing literary or cultural studies on Van Wyk Louw's legacy but seeks to raise awareness of a different perspective, specifically a Catholic perspective, on his legacy. To this end the study focuses on how Van Wyk Louw is still evoked by Catholics, especially when they pray in the Afrikaans he helped to create.

Keywords : Van Wyk Louw; Catholic; Afrikaans; Afrikaans cultural discourse; Catholic Afrikaans; Catholic Church history; Dominicans; Van Wyk Louw-Catholic relationship; Catholic gap; Louw as a Catholic place of memory.

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