The octogenarian African author looks back on his life, in conversations with a French interviewer. Van der Post is always...

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A WALK WITH A WHITE BUSHMAN

The octogenarian African author looks back on his life, in conversations with a French interviewer. Van der Post is always sober, sincere, and well-meaning here, if humorless. Part of the reason this volume seems dull is that the conversations are edited in a circular way, so that we find certain subjects, such as South African writers William Plomer and Roy Campbell, appearing and reappearing over many pages. The effect is a rather diffuse portrait of these two lively and controversial men. Van der Post is most successful not with these celebrities, but with the experiences that were uniquely his. There is a certain eloquence and warmth in his description of his first nurse, a ""Bushman woman"" who ""had a beautiful face with those very ancient eyes of the Bushman. I looked into her eyes and it was always as if I looked at the first dawn of the first day."" This kind of lyricism is most effective when describing subjects particularly African: Van der Post's attachment to his native land, its landscape and natural history is very vivid. However, the conversation keeps returning to literary matters, where van der Post is perhaps less than compelling: for example, his opinion that of the trio of poets W.H. Auden, C. Day Lewis, and Stephen Spender, the last was the ""most natural and gifted poet of the threesome."" Tedious at times, but overall this walk is a pleasant and captivating stroll indeed.

Pub Date: July 31, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1987