ANDRé BRINK (1935 – Feb. 7th, 2015)
André BRINK (who died on Feb. 7th, 2015 ) was one of South Africa's most distinguished writers: poet, novelist, essayist and teacher, he began work as a University lecturer in Afrikaans* and Dutch Literature in the 1960s. He began writing in Afrikaans, but when censored by the South African government, began to also write in English and became published overseas. He remains a key figure in the modernisation of the Afrikaans language novel.
Brink’s best-known book, A Dry White Season (1979), was made into a film starring Marlon Brando
André Brink has been made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters and awarded the Legion of Honour by the French government.
André Brink has constantly explored, in his own words, his 'love-hate relationship with the Afrikaner' and his own position as a 'cultural schizophrene'. He got associated with several South African writers that called themselves 'Sestigers' ('1960-ers'), and began to question the literary and cultural roots within the Afrikaans tradition and initially tried to subvert them with modernist and post-modernist technical experimentations.
He then admitted the influence of the 1968 students’ uprisings in Paris that he witnessed while doing postgraduate work at the Sorbonne. In his article 'The position of the Afrikaans writer' (1970), Brink stated that 'no Afrikaans writer has yet tried to offer a serious political challenge to the system ... We have no one with enough guts, it seems, to say: No'. In 1973 Brink published Kennis van die Aand, a novel that represented a turning point in his career, both in terms of politics and language : a black actor details his struggle against apartheid and his passionate, yet doomed, love affair with a white woman. South African censors banned the novel for its explicit condemnation of apartheid and for its candid depiction of an inter-racial relationship. Because of the ban, Brink decided to translate the novel into English (Looking on Darkness, 1974), to appeal to an international readership. All his following books were written simultaneously in Afrikaans and English.
* Afrikaans is a Dutch dialect spoken by families from the Netherlands who settled in South Africa. It became the language of apartheid in the third quarter of the XXth century. Maybe you use words without knowing they are Afrikaans : apartheid (literally "separate-ness"), Boer (literally "farmer"), eland (from Dutch, meaning "elk"), kommando (a mounted infantry unit raised to retrieve stolen livestock), rooibos (a kind of tea, literally "red bush"), springbok, trek (a long trip, literally "draw", or "haul"), veld (literally "field" or natural African bush vegetation)
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