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Stephen Gray Reviews Richard Rive: A Partial Biography by Shaun Viljoen

Richard Rive: A Partial BiographyVerdict: stick

Here at last is the long-awaited account of ­Richard Rive, that strongman and polemicist of the 1960s generation of South African letters. Some 15 years in the making, it has won its subject’s friend and collaborator, Shaun Viljoen, a doctorate and a position on the staff of Stellenbosch University.

It is handsomely packaged and comes garlanded with commendatory shouts from the correct ­academic luminaries and key followers, although whether they have actually read the text must remain in question. Unfortunately, it is replete with evasions and even plain errors.

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