Collected memories keep Bosman alive

2009-01-14 00:00

Herman Charles Bosman apparently loved Pietermaritzburg. As writer and literary custodian Lionel Abrahams has recounted, Bosman was enchanted by the look of the city and its age, and he admired the lightness of manner in which it appeared to carry its years.

On one visit, Bosman and his wife had noticed an attractive old boarding house and had knocked on the door and asked the landlady if they could look inside. So impressed were they with the place that before their departure from the city that same afternoon they returned to the house for another look. A different woman answered the door, and on his request, she replied: “Yes, certainly. In fact you’re the second gentleman today wanting to look around the house.”

Bosman apparently later told Abrahams: “Then I was frightened — to see how quickly things become fashionable.” That brief anecdote from this collection of “tributes, memoirs, sketches, interviews” provides a glimpse of the oblique angle from which Bosman viewed the world. And there are many other such observations, as a variety of his friends and acquaintances cast their memories back over the years and trawl up further proof of a talent so rare that it would not be hyperbole to describe it as bordering on genius.

For example, in the words of fellow prisoner Lago Clifford: “The most interesting person I met in Pretoria Central Prison was this young student — refined, creative, poetical. He is serving a sentence of ten years’ hard labour, having been convicted of murder, but reprieved. He is a university man who had a brilliant scholastic career; is highly read and possesses a most fascinating personality.”

Or Zita Grove, who remembers her prodigal cousin as not only one of South Africa’s most famous writers of short stories but also as “the most exciting person I have ever known”.

Or Fred Zwarenstein, a student with Bosman and later a distinguished advocate, speaking in 1980, shortly before his death: “He had this cruel sense of humour, which I think was some form of insanity, a kink of madness. But none of that undermines the fact that he was one of the finest writers that South Africa’s ever produced.”

Stephen Gray, who is not only the editor of this volume but also one of its contributors, and co-editor (with Craig MacKenzie) of Bosman’s Collected Works, as well as being one of Bosman’s biographers, has done us all a great service in helping keep Bosman’s extraordinary flame alive.

John Conyngham

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.