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Peter Blum

Poet of great originality and author - often satirical - of prose

Peter Emil Julius Blum was born on 4 May 1925 at Vienna, Austria.
When, as a twelve year old, he arrived in South Africa, he already spoke several 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 investigative intellects.)
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

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