RICHARD RIVE, a partial biography

: Viljoen (S.)

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258 pp., illus., paperback, Johannesburg, 2013

 

"This biography is primarily concerned with the way Rive embodied a vision of non-racialism in his often angry protest fiction, his literary scholarship, his interventions in education, sport and civil society, as well as in an inner life that battled contradiction between vocal assertiveness and tense silences." From the preface.

"Written with sensitivity and sophistication, Shaun Viljoen reflects on Richard Rive's experiences of love, abjection and 'staring in the dark'. His great achievement is to mark Rive off from his peers, pushing beyond a purely apartheid-shaped ethos and reading practice and into a world of ambiguity, humour, satire and strangeness; a world which and apartheid mindset could not fully capture or subdue." Sarah Nuttall, director, WISER, University of the Witwatersrand.

"I found the clarity of the exposition, the informed speculation, and the warp and weft of intimate portrait and contextual embedding to be exceptional. The book's mode - adhering broadly to the conventions of biographical writing and then disrupting them in creative, cogent and intellectually persuasive ways - makes it the most compelling biography of a South African writer that I have read." Michael Titlestad, Associate Professor, University of the Witwatersrand.

Writer, scholar, literary critic and college teacher Richard Rive (1939-1989) was born and raised in District Six. His writings include the novels "Buckingham Palace, District Six", "Emergency" and "Emergency Continued", "Advance, Retreat", a selection of his short stories, as well as the autobiography "Writing Black".

Sean Viljoen is Associate Professor in the English Department at Stellenbosch University.