EXCITING NEWS for the #KnysnaLitFest is this year’s dynamic line-up of thematic authors including Richard Steyn as he takes us on a journey into the mind and life of a South African historical icon, Jan Smuts, with his book Unafraid of Greatness. R150pp (Booking Reference C) |Conrad Pezula Resort & Spa |17 March | 09h00 – 10h00.
Reference The Mail & Guardian: Another biography of Jan Smuts? Dazzling in his giftedness and achievements, Smuts has been incomprehensible in his ultimate political and moral failure. These failures have haunted us for the past 70 years and will continue to do so. Richard Steyn, in Jan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness, attempts to unravel the mystery.
My being in the world may be attributed to Smuts. Life in England during the years immediately following World War II was grim. There was food rationing. London was strewn with the bombed wrecks of buildings, reminding everyone of the awfulness of the years before.
When Smuts invited the British royal family to visit South Africa in 1947, both he and this country received such favourable news coverage in Britain that my maternal grandparents decided to immigrate with my mother, as part of the wave of hundreds of thousands who came here from Britain shortly before the National Party came to power in 1948. My mother met my father here.
Against this background, I began to read biographies of Smuts as a schoolboy. I have read those by Piet Beukes, Bernard Friedman, Keith Hancock, Piet Meiring, Sarah Gertrude Millin and his son, Jannie.
Among the reasons for this plethora of biographies is that Smuts continues to be an enduring enigma. No one has succeeded in explaining his massive flaws, despite his undoubted brilliance. Interestingly, as with his biographies, no painting, statue, bust or even photograph quite captures his personality. He always looks different, even though he is immediately recognisable.
LISTEN to an interview with author Richard Steyn and Bill Nasson at the official launch of Unafraid of Greatness at Times Live HERE: https://soundcloud.com/live-times-media/richard-steyns-jan-smuts-unafraid-of-greatness-launched-with-bill-nasson-at-the-book-lounge
READ Jonathan Ball’s official blog featuring Richard Steyn and Unafraid of Greatness at Sunday Times Book Live HERE: http://jonathanball.bookslive.co.za/blog/2016/03/04/richard-steyns-jan-smuts-unafraid-of-greatness-launched-with-bill-nasson-at-the-book-lounge/