“We are his children”: de Landmanfamilie als erfgenaam van Adamastor

  • Laura Engels University of Ghent
Keywords: André Brink, Adamastor, Portuguese Mythology, Os Lusiadas


In Die eerste lewe van Adamastor (The first life of Adamastor, 1988) André Brink reinvented the giant Adamastor, introduced in 1572 with the publication of Os Lusíadas, the Portuguese epic by Luis de Camões. So fascinated was Brink by the Southern African monster, that he wanted to write more novels containing new personifications of Adamastor. An Act of Terror (1992) can be seen as his most prominent Adamastor novel. An addendum entitled “The Chronicle of the Landman Family: As told by Thomas Landman” was included in this novel. In this article, I focus on this chronicle and unravel the way in which Adamastor manifests himself in every character, because each figure bears some resemblances to the Adamastor that Brink recreated in T’kama, the protagonist in Die eerste lewe van Adamastor (1988). All the characters in the Landman family fight against a dominant entity, but they do it on their own terms. This article shows that Brink uses the Adamastor figure as a metaphor for conflict, but also for reconciliation and protection. Against the background of these characteristics, Adamastor also appears to be a personification of different ideological constructs and of the continent of Africa. Furthermore, Adamastor’s appearance is a key feature to understanding how ideology transforms the representation of historical knowledge in Brink’s novel.


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