The hidden history of South Africaís books and reading cultures by Archie Dick

  • Mary Nassimbeni
Keywords: Book review, archie dick


This book has a broad historical remit, ranging from the early colonial days of the Cape (1658) to the last decade of the 20th century. Its ambitious scope covers eight chapters, starting with early readers in the Cape and taking the chronology to 1992 (Chapter 7), with the final chapter exploring the theme of censorship. It concludes by revealing the hidden books and hidden readers, a deft touch which resonates neatly with the Introduction in which the author proposes the significance of the common reader in South Africa. Although some of the themes covered in the chapters have been published as papers in scholarly journals, the reader is not aware of any disjuncture in the flow or logic of the text as the author has carefully constructed a framing device which he presents in his Introduction, viz. the common reader.
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