Het meest complete mafke: De functie van waanzin in het postuur van J.M.H. Berckmans

  • Arnout De Cleene


This article deals with the Flemish cult-writer J.M.H. Berckmans (1953-2008). In contrast
to the existing attention for the marginal existence of the author or the influence of jazz-music
on his writing, my analysis will focus on the author’s articulation of the theme of
madness. Relying on methodological insights of discourse analysis, and the theory of posture
littéraire in particular, i.e. the way in which the author himself creates an image of the
writing subject J.M.H. Berckmans through the use of interviews in popular magazines like
Humo and through his (auto)fictional oeuvre, brings to the fore a complex functioning of
madness. I will argue that next to granting the author authority and credibility to write
about madness as he emphasizes his own madness, madness also serves as the polar opposite
of the lucidity of the writing process itself and the reading strategy the author suggests.
Berckmans uses the popular image of the manic-depressive and the schizophrenic to
strengthen this trichotomy while employing the discursive possibilities of interviews and
fiction. In addition, Berckmans creates a profile of his reading public as a ‘dumb’ audience
and emphasizes underestimation as an essential part of his literary posture.

How to Cite:

De Cleene, A., (2011) “Het meest complete mafke: De functie van waanzin in het postuur van J.M.H. Berckmans”, Handelingen - Koninklijke Zuid-Nederlandse maatschappij voor taal- en letterkunde en geschiedenis 65, 5-22. doi:

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Published on
08 Feb 2011
Peer Reviewed