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Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

On-line version ISSN 2309-9070
Print version ISSN 0041-476X


VAN WYK, Steward. The intellectual history of Coloured intelligentsia: Revisiting P. J. Philander (1921-2006). Tydskr. letterkd. [online]. 2022, vol.59, n.3, pp.57-72. ISSN 2309-9070.

The intellectual history of Coloured intelligentsia in the middle of the previous century is often characterised by a sharp division between moderates and radicals. The historiography of Coloured people is relatively limited but a few scholars have studied their intellectual formation against the background of historical circumstances, their specific biography and institutional operations. In this article I give a broad overview of the intellectual history and historiography of Coloured intelligentsia. I focus in more detail on the poet and educationist P. J. Philander. He is associated with the moderate grouping and characterised as a political gradualist who favoured steady and incremental changes in the political towards democracy. I argue for further engagement with the ideas and actions of the poet and propose that liberal sentiments in his life and work provide further and important perspectives. This would also explain his disenchantment with the apartheid regime and his consequent decision to emigrate to the United States of America where he pursued a long and illustrious career as an educator at a Quaker School in New York. I analyse two texts with an autobiographical purview to indicate these strands of liberal influence and thought.

Keywords : intellectual history; moderates; radicals; P. J. Philander; liberal fiction; autobiography; race.

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