OMEGA, OOR EN UIT: DIE STORIE VAN ’N OPSTANDIGE TROEP - François Verster
AbstractWar narratives are in essence categorised as a distinct literary kind of its own. In his masterpiece The soldier’s tale: Bearing witness to modern war, Samuel Hynes argues that mankind is generally curious about war. Hynes contends that it is often easier to respond to one man and his ‘war’, than to try to comprehend the overwhelming statistics associated with modern wars – especially in terms of the overwhelming numbers of soldiers, battles and casualties. For Hynes, it was important to “understand what war was like, and how it feels, we must … seek the reality in the personal witness of the men who were there”. As such, the recording of the personal narratives of soldiers are extremely important. These narratives, however, can be subdivided into two broad categories depending on differing needs – the need to report and the need to remember. Accounts that fall into the reporting category generally comprise letters, diaries and journals that are kept as the war unfolds. The value of these sources is varied, but in essence, they offer immediacy and directness in recording the personal experience of war. The second category comprises memoirs. Memoirs are indeed much more reflective in nature, in that they are written years afterthe actual experience of war. Moreover, memoirs give a selective overview of “what the young self did, what happened to him, what changed him”.
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