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Just Republished: Manna in the Desert: A Revelation of the Great Karroo

Manna in the DesertI’m favorably disposed to self-publishing, if it’s passionately done and carries a whiff of the idiosyncratic. What better way to advance your ideas, court immortality and try your luck than by floating a book?

Not long ago I received a note from one Craig Elstob, advising me of the fact that he had republished his “Great-Grandfather Alfred de Jager Jackson’s book, Manna in the Desert: A Revelation of the Great Karroo, about early farm life in the mid 19th century”, now for sale – certainly a project worthy of BOOK SA readers’ attention.

First brought out by the Christian Literature Depot (Johannesburg) in 1920, the book’s “just published” notice in the newspapers and circulars of the time is wonderfully evocative:

A Revelation of the Great Karroo
( Illustrated )
BY ALFRED DE JAGER JACKSON
12/6. Postage 6d.

What those say who have read it -

Sunday Times – “Excellence of production : we can pay the author a well deserved tribute because of the contents.”

Leading Libraries – “ The chapter on Porker alone should make anyone deeply, truly, if not passionately in love with the book. ” “You should not have the slightest difficulty in placing a copy with every Library in the country.” “I wish you every success your book deserves.”

Various readers – “Your book is just splendid.” “The book is lovely.” “The book will live.” “It is a classic.” “It is splendidly written.” “Your accuracy is wonderful.”

A Book-expert – “I consider it quite the best South African work yet produced.”

Diamond Fields Advertiser – “It will survive when much of the ephemeral literature of the day is on the scrap-heap. The book is full of interesting things and should achieve a wide popularity.”

December 1920.

According to Elstob, the Jackson Family, together with Sir John Charles Molteno, farmed 100 000 acres in the Nelspoort district near Beaufort West – and parts of the family still farm there today.

Jackson was 60 years of age when Manna came out. Born in Beaufort West in 1860, he lived until 1944, a descendant of the “Griquatown Andersons” – for which he merits a small but highly entertaining note in said family tree’s online database – click here – which is a dangerously distracting website.

Elstob has added a second preface to Manna, as well as an afterword, old photos and new colour plates. He’s re-published the book as a hardcover, limited edition of 1000 numbered copies – and at last count only 175 were left!

Manna sells at R228 excluding postage, and can be ordered from Craig Elstob directly. Contact him by email, or by phone on 083 661 0809.