7 Sep 2007

Have you....

His book translated into Flemish here.

Have you read...."The soul of the white Ant"...or..."Die siel van die Mier!" by Eugene Marais... if not....you have a gap in your culture...:))....get "The soul of the white ant.." and read it...

Where is the soul of a termite, or the soul of man?

“Someone once said that all behaviourism in nature could be referred to as hunger. This saying has been repeated thousands of times yet is false. Hunger itself is pain – the most severe pain in its later stages that the body knows except thirst, which is even worse. Love may be regarded as a hunger, but it is not pain.

“What protects animals, what enables them to continue living, what assures the propagation of race? A certain attribute of organic matter. As soon as one finds life, one finds this attribute. It is inherent in life; like most natural phenomena it is polarised, there is a negative and a positive pole. The negative pole is pain; the positive pole is sex. This attribute may be called the saving attribute of life; and it is here where one comes closest to what appears like a common purpose beyond nature.” (Eugène Marais, The Soul of the White Ant, 1989:261)

Eugène Nielen Marais[1] (1871-1936) was a South African lawyer, naturalist, poet, and writer. Although Marais is remembered by South Africans more for his contribution to Afrikaans literature than for science, he has been described as being a scientist far ahead of his time.

He began life after leaving college as a journalist, then studied medicine for four years, but eventually took up law and was called to the bar by the Inner Temple. He was a scholar and a man of culture.

However, it was not only as jurist that Marais distinguished himself as a brilliant (yet eccentric) character in South African history. He has been described as “… a human community in one man. He was a poet, an advocate, a journalist, a story-teller, a drug-addict, a psychologist, a natural scientist.”

In 1910, he abandoned his law practice and retreated to the remote Waterberg (‘Water Mountain’) – the mountain area north-west of Pretoria. Here he studied two creatures – termites and baboons that, on the face of it, had nothing in common. Both fascinated him, as did all wild creatures.

Read more HERE...


  1. Another must read is Leon Rousseau's biography of Eugene Marais: Die Groot Verlange, unfortunately you have to be able to read Afrikaans, I don't think there is any translation.

    At the moment I am reading Rousseau's Die Groot Avontuur, a book probing into where the human race comes from, evolution etc. Just as excellently researched as Die Groot Verlange. This book sort of joins another book by another author: Die Groot Gedagte by Gideon Joubert on cosmology. The two authors seem to know each other, as Joubert wrote a foreword for Rousseau's book.

  2. Sorry, Die Groot Verlange has been translated as The Dark Stream, ISBN: 0868500321 9780868500324.

    What I also forgot to add is that Rousseau refers to Marais again a few times in the book I am reading now - maybe from a different perspective after more than 30 years and all the research he has done for this book.

  3. Thanks for the information! Will see if i can get hold of the books, sounds very interesting!

  4. I have just read The Soul of the White Ant, and boy! what a great reading experience. Marais was a genius indeed! I am looking for more information about his life as I believe he shot himself on my mother's uncle's farm, this uncle being Gustav Preller. I will try to buy Leon Rousseau's Die Groot Verlange; Thanks for the tip.

  5. Hi Stek and welcome to my blog. I'm glad we could help you with the "tip". Interesting to know it was on your mum's uncle's farm.

  6. I eventually ordered and today received Die Groot Verlange from Johannesburg. Ek kan nie wag om dit te lees nie!

  7. Hi Stek
    Ek's bly! Geniet dit!

  8. Anonymous26.4.10

    My ma, voormalige laerskool juffrou (nou 78), het waarskynlik meer boeke in haar leeftyd gelees as 'n hele paar mense saam. Ek het die laaste tyd vir haar gegee: Rousseau se Groot Verlange, The Soul of the Ape en The Soul of the White Ant, wat sy nie gelees het nie, maar bestudeer het.
    Nadat sy al 3 gelees het, was haar kommentaar dat dit voorgeskrewe boeke vir elke mens behoort te wees. Sy wil nou nie eers meer die miere wat haar so verpes het doodmaak nie! Ns. Ek het jou e-mail adres verloor, stuur asb vir my? (christo@agritel.co.za)

  9. Hi Christo...ek het so pas eers hier uitgekom, jammer, ek email jou.