Poet of great originality and author - often satirical - of prose
Peter Emil Julius Blum was born on 4 May 1925 at
When, as a twelve year old, he arrived in South Africa, he already spoke
languages. He attended school in Durban and Johannesburg and studied at the
Universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town.
From 1949 he worked as a librarian in Cape Town and later in Kroonstad, where
his undemanding duties and the "backwoods" life bored him stiff. Fortunately, he
enjoyed nature and bird watching.
In 1955 Peter married Henrietta Cecilia Smit, an art teacher in Stellenbosch.
Peter Blum published several reviews and articles and earned literary
recognition for his poetry. In 1956 he was awarded the Reina Prinsen Geerligs
Prize for Steenbok tot poolsee.
He wrote book reviews for Die Burger and made some important translations into Afrikaans from several languages,
including French (works of Apollinaire, Anouilh and Baudelaire). Among his
satirical prose, his best-known essay, Hoe ek dekadent geword het, appeared in Standpunte (October 1956). It is his answer to moralising reactions to his first
collection of poetry. Here he parodies some of the writers concerned.
In spite of the fact that important personalities like Dirk Opperman and Van
Wyk Louw greatly admired his erudition and talent, Peter Blum was not accorded
South African citizenship. Bitterly disappointed, he turned away from Afrikaans
and Afrikaans culture in 1960 and settled with his wife in London.
He died on 5 December 1990.
Steenbok tot poolsee, 1955
Enklaves van die lig, 1958
Hy het Suid-Afrika verlaat - en daarmee het die Afrikaanse literatuur in die
besonder en die Suid-Afrikaanse geesteslewe as sodanig een van sy grootste
talente en speurendste intellekte veloor.
(He left South Africa - leaving Afrikaans literature and in particular, the
South African spirituality, bereft of one of it's greatest talents and most
J. C. Kannemeyer in Wat het geword van Peter Blum?
As digter lei Blum, in teenstelling tot die meeste van sy tydgenote wat blote
epigone van Opperman is of sterk in die ban van sy digkuns verkeer, 'n nuwe
tradisie in die Afrikaanse poësie in en is hy die sterkste en selfstandigste
nuwe digter van die vyftigterjare.
(As poet, Blum starts a new tradition in Afrikaans poetry, in contrast with
most of his contemporaries, who are merely imitations of Opperman ...and he is
the strongest and most independent new poet of the fifties.)
J. C. Kannemeyer
Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix