André P. Brink

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André P. Brink (1935-2015) World renowned Afrikaans novelist, travel writer, essayist, translator, playwright, critic, director and literary scholar. Also sometimes referred to as A.P. Brink or André Brink.


Born André Phillipus Brink in Vrede in the Orange Free State 29 May 1935, grew up and matriculated in Lydenburg in 1952, obtaining a rare seven distinctions.

A formidable cultural activist, he became a leading member of the influential Sestigers movement among Afrikaans writers and a founder member of the Skrywersgilde ("Writers' Guild") of the 1980s.

He was married five times, inter alia briefly to actress, playwright and academic Salomi Louw (1965-66), and somewhat longer to theatre designer and costumier Alta Muller (1970-87) and finally to Karina Szczurek. His son, Anton Brink, is an artist.

He died on 6 February 2015 on board a flight travelling with his wife, from Amsterdam to Cape Town, shortly after having received an honorary doctorate from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium.


He studied at the University of Potchefstroom for CHE, where he obtained both an M.A in English and a Doctorate in Afrikaans and Dutch. He spent some time in Paris in the early 1960s, as he followed up his studies with postgraduate research in comparative literature at the University of Sorbonne in Paris. In this time he forged links with a number of South Africans resident there.


As an academic, Brink lectured at the University of Potchefstroom for a while, before becoming lecturer (later chair) of Afrikaans-Nederlands at Rhodes University, and thereafter professor in English Literature at the University of Cape Town. Besides numerous articles, he published 14 books on various aspects of literature, including Aspekte van die Nuwe Drama ("Aspects of the New Drama", 1974), Mapmakers: Writing in a State of Siege (1983), Reinventing a Continent: Writing and Politics in South Africa (1996) and Destabilising Shakespeare (1996).

As a critic he wrote on all forms of literature, as well as art and other matters of culture. For a while during the 1980s Brink was considered the most influential critic in the country, writing and editing his own literature pages in the Rapport, the most widely read Sunday newspaper in the country.

He is best known as novelist and enjoys a worldwide reputation as anti-apartheid activist and writer. His first novel Meul teen die Hang ("The mill against the hill") appeared in 1958, to be followed by 26 others, including the controversial Kennis van die Aand, (1973) the first Afrikaans novel to be banned, An Instant in the Wind, Rumours of Rain and Philida (2012). One novel, A Dry White Season (1979) was adapted for the screen in 1989 and starred Marlon Brando, Susan Sarandon, Donald Sutherland, Janet Suzman and Zakes Mokae.

He translated most of his novels into English himself, later even writing them simultaneously in both Afrikaans and English.

He also published numerous collections of essays, books on cultural matters (several on wine), children's stories, travel stories and essays, and so on.

Brink knew a number of languages well, and as has been responsible for more than 60 superb translations from the original, mainly from French and English, among them several plays.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

As dramatist and drama critic he has been enormously influential. His thesis, published as a book Aspekte van die Nuwe Drama (“Aspects of the New Drama” – 1974, expanded and reprinted 198*) has long provided one of the cornerstones for the development of Afrikaans playwriting and theatre criticism, and in 1996 he published Destabilising Shakespeare. As playwright he has produced 16 plays. Very influentiual have been his early one-act plays in the absurd style - Die Koffer, Die Tas (both meaning "The suitcase”) , and Die Trommel (“The trunk”), first publiashed in 1962, then collectively published as Bagasie (“Baggage”) in 1965, his full length works in the style (Elders Mooiweer en Warm, Pavane), political-historical plays on the early South African history (Die Verhoor - “The Trial”, ***, Afrikaners is Plesierig – “Afrikaners are funloving”) and his later comic adaptations of Shakespeare (Kinkels innie Kabel – “A Comedy of Errors”) and J.M. Synge (Die Bobaas van die Boendoe – “Playboy of the Western World”) have become an essential part of the Afrikaans dramatic canon of the nineteen-seventies and –eighties and were often performed. His post-apartheid play, Die Jogger (“The Jogger”, 1997) won awards for performances in 1997 and was published in the same year. Brink was awarded the Hertzog Prize for Drama in 1999?/2000? for the play, with consideration of the rest of his dramatic oeuvre. He is also a formidable translator, and among his translations and adaptations for the stage are The Story of an African Farm (PACT, directed by Ken Leach, starring Annelisa Weiland at the Alexander Theatre, 1975), Hedda Gabler (19**), Lang Dagreis na die Nag (Long Day's Journey into Night, 2008) Judge for the Nagtegaalprys for Drama in 2003.

Full list of original plays:

1956 Die Band om ons Harte, 1961 Caesar, 1962 Die Koffer, 1965 Bagasie (Koffer, Tas, Trommel), 1965 Elders Mooiweer en Warm, 1970 Die Verhoor, 1970 Die Rebelle, 1971 Kinkels innie Kabel, 1973 Die Bobaas van die Boendoe, 1973 Afrikaners is Plesierig, 1974 Pavane, 1976 Die Hamer van die Hekse, 1979 Toiings op die Langpad, 1997 Die Jogger, 2008 Lang Dagreis na die Nag (Long Day's Journey into Night, 2008)

Translations of plays:

1969 Richard III (Shakespeare), 1971 Eskoriaal (Michel de Ghelderode), 1974 Hedda Gabler (Henrik Ibsen), 1975 Die Tragedie van Romeo en Juliet (Shakespeare), The Story of an African Farm (PACT, directed by Ken Leach, starring Annelisa Weiland at the Alexander Theatre, 1975), 1976 Die Seemeeu (Anton Tsjechow), 1992 Not All of Us (Ons is nie almal so nie by Jeanne Goosen), Lang Dagreis na die Nag (Long Day's Journey into Night, 2008)


His first play, Caesar, was awarded the Eugène Maraisprys (the Eugène Marais prize) of the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns in 1963.

Besides the CNA Award (three times), two Hertzog Prizes for prose (one for his translation of Alice Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carrol) in 1970 and one for his novel Donkermaan in 2001), Brink was awarded the Hertzog Prize for Drama in 2000 for the play Die Jogger ("The Jogger", 1997), the award made taking the rest of his dramatic oeuvre into consideration. The play also won a number of production awards in that 1997.

Among the more general awards and honours he received are the British Martin Luther King Memorial prize in 1980, the French Prix Medicis Etranger for foreign literature in 1980, and in recognition of his contribution to French literature he was made a chevalier of the France's Legion of Honour in 1982 (the country's top civilian award), a shortlisting for the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982 and Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1992), plus the Premio Mondello, Monismanien Human Rights Award, and the Commonwealth Literature Prize for the Africa region.


Die Burger 15 April 2000

The Citizen, 15 April 2000

Rapport, 8 February 2015, p.1.

De Beer, 1995,

IOL News [1]:

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