On the Contrary
Being the Life of a Famous Rebel, Soldier, Traveller, Explorer, Reader, Builder, Scribe, Latinist, Lover and Liar
By (author) Andre Brink
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On the Contrary by Andre Brink
Book DescriptionEstienne Barbier, born in the Loire Valley in 1699, lays claim to service in the armies of the kings of France and Prussia, but he is an inveterate liar, and the truth is less glorious: irate husbands have made the Lowlands too hot to hold him, and he has deserted his pregnant wife to stow away for the Cape of Good Hope. An expedition to the hinterland opens his eyes to the majesty of the African landscape and its wondrous animals and he is enchanted by the rumour of a fabled city of gold. But he also begins to see clearly the sordid dealing that underlies the self-righteous pomposity of the East India Company. It is a vision that makes him powerful enemies. Taking cover on a remote farm, and energetically consoling sundry widows, Barbier finds himself, to his own surprise, fomenting rebellion.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780749397982
(197mm x 128mm x 24mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 26-Sep-1994
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Andre Brink
Philida, Paperback (February 2013)
The year is 1832 and Cape is rife with rumours about liberation of slaves. Philida is the mother of four children by Francois Brink, the son of her master. Francois has reneged on his promise to set her free and his father has ordered him to marry a white woman from a prominent family, selling Philida on to owners in harsh country in the north.
Fork in the Road, Paperback (April 2010)
Tells the story of a life lived in tumultuous times. In this title, the author describes with searing honesty his conflicting experiences of growing up in a world where innocence was always surrounded by violence and storytelling was a means of reconciling the stark contrasts of his world.
Praying Mantis, Paperback (August 2006)
In his early years, growing up on a Dutch farm in the deep interior of the southern African Cape, Cupido Cockroach became the greatest drinker, liar, fornicator, and fighter of his region. Coming under the spell of a woman, and Dr Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp of the London Missionary Society, Cupido is then made the first Hottentot missionary.
Before I Forget, Paperback (September 2005)» View all books by Andre Brink
It is on New Year's Eve, courtesy of his stalled car, that he meets Rachel, a young sculptress who becomes the great love of his life, a love greater for being unfulfilled. This book presents the history of a life set against the history of a nation, and the history of a transforming love.
US Kirkus Review » South African novelist Brink (Cape of Storms, 1992, etc.) again revisits the past to tell a picaresque tale that is also a heartfelt but clumsy mea culpa. Drawing on sources as varied as Cervantes and period histories, Brink appropriates the bare outlines of French-born Estienne Barbier's life and turns them into a tale weighted with symbolism and myth. The suggestion that Barbier was an "eighteenth century Cape social bandit" provides the political and moral heft for a character who otherwise is a liar, a shameless seducer, and self-seeking adventurer. Barbier, awaiting execution for fomenting rebellion and defying local officials, relates his life story in the form of a letter to Rosette, a slave he had helped escape from the Cape. Once the ill-treated property of the odious Allemann family, Rosette is also a mythic storyteller. With the spirit of Joan of Arc and a copy of Don Quixote as his trusty companions, Barbier offers contradictory reasons for his coming to the Cape, but he becomes more credible as he recounts run-ins with the local Dutch authorities, his seductions, and his growing sympathy for the indigenous peoples. Betrayed by friends, with a price on his head, he ventures into the interior searching for Rosette and for the legendary kingdom of Monomatapa, as well as a way to "break the cycle of hate and vengeance." Many of the living and dead he meets forgive him, but others demand punishment. "It is a terrible via dolorosa, yet I exult. This is my necessary purging on behalf of all of us who have invaded this space to subjugate it with our presumption and visit with our devastation." Ready now for death, Barbier remains an unlikely - and unconvincing - voice for reconciliation and contrition. Despite some brilliant moments, the novel is more a creakily schematic reworking of history than a persuasive illumination of South Africa's tangled past. Disappointing. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Andre Brink
Andre Brink is the author of several novels in English, including A Dry White Season, Imaginings of Sand, The Rights of Desire, The Other Side of Silence and, most recently, Philida. He has won South Africa's most important literary prize, the CNA Award, three times and has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
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