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Marais mah REH , silent s was the thirteenth and last child of his parents, Jan Christiaan Nielen Marais and Catharina He attended school in Pretoria, Boshof and Paarl and much of his early education was in English, as were his earliest poems After leaving school he worked as a legal clerk and later as a journalist before becoming owner at the age of twenty of a newspaper called Land en VolkHe involved himself deeply in local politics He began taking opiates at an early age and graduated to morphine then considered to be non habitforming and a safer drug very soon thereafter He became addicted An addiction that ruled his affairs and actions to a greater or lesser extent throughout his life When asked for the reasons for taking drugs, he variously pleaded ill health, insomnia and, later, the untimely death of his wife Much later, he blamed accidental addiction while ill with malaria in Mozambique He married Aletta Beyers but she died from puerperal fever a year later, eight days after the birth of their son, Marais only child In 1897 still in his mid twenties he went to London, initially to read medicine However, under pressure from his friends, he entered the Inner Temple to study law and qualified as an advocate When the Boer War broke out in 1899, he was put on parole as an enemy alien in London During the latter part of the war he joined a German expedition that sought to ship ammunition and medicines to the Boer Commandos via Portuguese East Africa now Mozambique However, he was struck down by malaria and before the supplies could be delivered to the Boers the war ended.From 1905 he studied nature in the Waterberg Water mountain and wrote in Afrikaans about the animals he observed His studies of termites led him to the conclusion that the colony should be considered as a single organism Although Marais could not have known it, he was anticipating some of the ideas of Richard Dawkins In the Waterberg Marais also studied the black mamba, spitting cobra and puff adder as well as observing baboon troops at length He was the father of the scientific study of the behaviour of primates.His book Die Siel van die Mier the Soul of the White Ant was plagiarized by Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck, who published The Life of the White Ant in 1926, falsely claiming many of Marais revolutionary ideas as his own.Marais contemplated legal action against Maeterlinck but gave up the idea in the face of the costs and logistics involved Marais had by now for some time been a morphine addict and suffered from melancholy, insomnia, depression and feelings of isolation In 1936, deprived of morphine for some days, he finally borrowed a shotgun on the pretext of killing a snake and shot himself in the chest The wound was not fatal and Marais therefore placed the end of the weapon in his mouth and pulled the trigger Marais is amongst the greatest of the Afrikaans poets and remains one of the most popular, although his output was not large Along with J.H.H de Waal and G.S Preller, he was a leading light in the Second Afrikaans language Movement in the period immediately after the Second Boer War, which ended in 1902 Some of his finest poems deal with the wonders of life and nature but he also wrote about inexorable Death Although an Afrikaner patriot, Marais was sympathetic to the cultural values of the black tribal peoples of the Transvaal this is seen in poems such as Die Dans van die Re n The dance of the rain.
- 314 pages
- The Soul Of The Ape; The Soul Of The White Ant
- Eugène N. Marais
- 12 October 2019 Eugène N. Marais