In die gees van die Dionisiese: Marlene van Niekerk se aanhangersbrief aan Freddy Mercury




Apollo versus Dionysus, Kaar, Marlene van Niekerk, Friedrich Nietzsche


Drawing on Nietzsche’s dichotomy between the Apollonian and Dionysian principles pertaining to classic tragedy, in this article, I consider the poem “Fan mail Freddy Mercury” by Marlene van Niekerk, from Kaar (2013) from that perspective. The poem deals with the rock musician Freddy Mercury and from my reading is shown to be exemplifying the Dionysian spirit through Mercury’s movements, his performance and his vocal range. From my reading of the text it is evident that there was a strong fusion of the Apollonian and Dionysian in the life and work of Freddy Mercury. Despite his rebellious spirit and his negation of the faith of his childhood, culture dictated that he be buried in his faith. Van Niekerk, with her insight into the philosophy of Nietzsche, adds another dimension to the poem when she invokes Zarathustra, Nietzsche’s prophetic figure, to be distinguished from the historical god of the Zoroaster faith. The metaphorical language used by the poet suggests her Dionysian playfulness.


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Author Biography

Marius Crous, Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha, South Africa

Marius Crous is associate professor in die Department of Languages and Literatures, Faculty of Humanities, Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha, South Africa.


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How to Cite

Crous, M. (2022). In die gees van die Dionisiese: Marlene van Niekerk se aanhangersbrief aan Freddy Mercury . Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 59(2), 29–39.



Research articles