Scholar joins Oxford round table

27 February 2008 | Story by Megan Morris

Book club: Assoc Prof Chris van der Merwe has been invited to take part in an Oxford Round Table in July, where he will discuss André P Brink's Kennis van die Aand, once thought too racy for South African readers

UCT's Associate Professor Chris van der Merwe has been invited to the July session of the Oxford Round Table, where references to religion in literature will be the theme under discussion.

The 20-year-old Oxford Round Table, a not-for-profit organisation with ties to Oxford University, is not seen as a conference in the conventional sense, but rather an opportunity for select leaders in the public and private sectors, as well as scholars, to discuss contemporary issues in a "collegial, 'think-tank' atmosphere" in Oxford, UK.

Van der Merwe, head of the Afrikaans section in the School of Languages & Literatures, will be one of a small group of international scholars to meet at the latest round table. Van der Merwe will talk on André P Brink's "alternative religion" in his 1973 work Kennis van die Aand, translated into English as Looking on Darkness.

The novel was banned shortly after publication on the grounds that it broke religious and political taboos with its central theme of the erotic relationship between a coloured man and a white woman.

"Brink fills this erotic relationship with a mystic quality," says Van der Merwe.

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