Charles Malan

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(22 May 1945–24 August 2011) Influential and controversial literary theorist and historian, short story writer and novelist, with a strong interest in Afrikaans drama.


Born Charles Wynand Malan (known as C.W. Malan or later as Charles Malan) on 22 Mei 1945 in ** he went to school in **, and studied at the University of Pretoria, with a period of study in Amsterdam. He completed a doctoral thesis on the novelist Ettienne Leroux , which was published as Misterie van die alchemis (1978). He started as a teacher of Afrikaans at Grey College Bloemfontein, where among other things he and Temple Hauptfleisch started the Grey College Drama Club, for which he directed a number of plays. He then became a lecturer in Afrikaans at the University of the Orange Free State (1972 to 1981), after which he joined the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) as head of the Centre for South African Literature Research (CENSAL). Till his reitrement in 2000 he was also Honorary Pofessor in the Department of Afrikaans at the University of Pretoria.

He was a vocal and avid opponent of literary censorship, and became was a founder member, and for a few terms chairman, of the Afrikaanse Skrywersgilde, a member of many editorial committees for journals (inter alia a founding editor of The Journal of Literary Studies) and book series, judge for many literary awards, and an advisor to a number of publishing houses.

Married three times, he had three children. He died on 24 August 2011.


A specialist on the works of novelist Ettienne Leroux, Bartho Smit and and literary theory, he was the author, editor and co-editor of a large number of books on literature, literary studies and the literary system, and led a number of influential research studies for the HSRC over the course of his career.

His books on literature and Afrikaans prose include Die oog van die son (1982), Letterkunde en leser (1983), Sensuur, literatuur en die leser (1983), Skrywer en gemeenskap (1985), Kortgesprek (1986), Ras en literatuur (1987), Vanweë die onbewuste (1987), Gids by die literatuurstudie (1989), Onder andere (1990), Viool en voorlaaier: Kultuurstudie in ’n Rome wat brand (1990) and Kleinbegin in die prosa (1991).

Contribution to SA theatre

He was wrote reviews and articles on Afrikaans plays and playwrights for newspapers and journals, and published a number of works on aspects of the Afrikaans drama canon, including a study guide to Die Keiser (1981), a study of the playwright Bartho Smit: ’n kritiese waardering (1984), and a collection of essays on Afrikaans theatre Spel en spiëel ("Play and Mirror", 1984).

Creative writing

In the 1990’s he began publishing short stories, collectively published in Pan se pretboek (1996), and left an unfinished novel, Boerebloed.


P.H. Roodt Huldeblyk Charles Wynand Malan (1945–2011)Tydskrif vir Letterkunde 49 (1) 2012 pp 150-152.

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