'n Kulturele entomologiese ondersoek na insekte in Willem Anker se Siegfried

Keywords: Willem Anker, cultural entomology, Human-Animal Studies, Siegfried


In this paper I investigate the function of the references to insects in Willem Anker's debut novel Siegfried (2007) from a cultural entomological perspective. My focus is on the character Wilhelm (Willem) Smit. Smit, a failed writer, gains his entomological knowledge from the books on insects that was left behind by the previous tenant of the house he rents on the farm of Jan Landman and his mentally disabled son Siegfried Landman. His engagement with insects goes beyond a scientific interest: he compares people and human society to insects and has a habit of eating insects. It therefore falls in the realm of cultural entomology. Since cultural entomology deals with the relationship between humans and insects, I furthermore tie my discussion to the field of Human-Animal Studies (HAS) in which the intertwinement of human and non-human animals is explored. I analyse the following three aspects in Siegfried: Smit's entomophagy (the eating of insects), Smit's general musings on the connection between humans and insects, and the comparison of the homeless people of Cape Town to insects in the novel. I investigate whether the portrayal of insect and human interaction is indicative of a posthuman interweavement or not. My conclusion is that Smit's consumption of insects is an act of desperation rather than a liberating intertwinement of human and animal. The comparison of humans to insects mainly relates to the negative perception of insects in Western culture and does not point to a posthuman transformation of human and animal.

Author Biography

Joan-Mari Barendse, Stellenbosch University

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of Stellenbosch.

Research articles