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First published in 1925, Pauline Smith's beautiful collection of stories set in the South Africa of her childhood is a lyrical and moving look at growing up in a remote landscape. Smith captures life in the heart of the Little Karoo, a mostly uninhabited terrain, where rain may not fall for years at a time. Poor, white early-Afrikaner settlers beset by hard times and an unforgiving landscape, the characters in her stories overcome tragedy time and time again, refusing to be broken.
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Milton Hindus, a founding member of the Brandeis University faculty, served as the Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities until his retirement. He is the author of Irving Babbitt, Literature and the Democratic Culture and has contributed to leading periodicals throughout the world.From Publishers Weekly:
With the simplicity of folk tales, the powerful lilt of ballads, the sharpness of woodcuts, these poignant short stories pierce the psychological armor of the Boers who make up South Africa's dominant minority. First published in 1925, the stories still ring true in their empathetic yet clear-eyed portrayal of a stern, obstinate tribe of white settlers at war with an unforgiving God. In "The Miller," a tubercular farmer whose sadistic torments have turned his wife into "a nervous hen" dies in her arms, forgiven by his tearful mate. In "The Sisters," a Boer's love of his land drives him to sellliterally? yup his daughter, who endures her fate stoiccally. Women in these 10 tales submit to husbands' or fathers' iron wills. "Ludovitje," the only story that touches directly on race relations, unites a dying boy and his "Kaffir" servant in a sort of evangelical mysticism. Smith, an English-born writer who grew up in the Little Karoo--the vast red plain of old Cape Colony--captures her neighbors in strongly cadenced prose.
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