Thursday, January 3, 2008

Peter Abrahams

Peter Abrahams (1919-)
Born: March 19, 1919; Vrededorp, South Africa

nonfiction
Return to Goli, 1953
Tell Freedom: Memories of Africa, 1954 (autobiography)
The Black Experience in the Twentieth Century: An Autobiography and Meditation, 2000 (also known as The Coyaba Chronicles: Reflections on the Black Experience in the Twentieth Century, 2000)
The World of Mankind, 1962 (with others)
Jamaica: An Island Mosaic, 1957

long fiction
Wild Conquest, 1950
The Path of Thunder, 1948
This Island Now, 1966
A Night of Their Own, 1965
Mine Boy, 1946
A Wreath for Udomo, 1956
Song of the City, 1943
The View from Coyaba, 1985

short fiction
Dark Testament, 1942

poetry
A Blackman Speaks of Freedom!, 1938(?)

Peter Henry Abrahams was the first nonwhite South African to publish a novel in English since Solomon Plaatje, whose Mhudi was published in 1930. Once his literary career began with the short-story collection Dark Testament in 1942 (a volume of poetry had previously been published by a small publisher), Abrahams established himself as a prolific writer.


The major themes of Abrahams’s works are intraracial and interracial conflict, the possibilities for resolution of such conflict, and the chances for the transcendence of racism between blacks and whites. These issues span his literary career. Mine Boy, for example, which is considered Abrahams’s first major novel, begins in a manner well known to South Africans: An innocent young man from the country moves to the decadent city. The theme of Mine Boy, however, is that interracial harmony can exist in the midst of a country corrupted by racism. Furthermore, the early The Path of Thunder and the later A Night of Their Own not only dramatize the question of intraracial and interracial harmony but also ask whether interracial love could serve to help people reject the rigidly racist system of South Africa. Thus, Abrahams’s works explore whether segregation and apartheid can be transcended by interracial relationships among people of good will.

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