Athol Fugard other writings



Novels, poems and essays by Fugard


Karoo and other stories, 2005.  Short stories

Fugard Karoo

A collection of short stories set in the Karoo (Buks and Joseph, Lukas Janties, Klonkie, Johnnie Goliath, Katie Koopman, Booitjie Barends) together with excerpts from Fugard's notebooks.  One of the stories, Booitjie Barends, is the basis for Fugard's play Booitjie and the Oubaas.  The book is also quoted in Coming Home.

The photos are also by Fugard, including the sublime cover photo.

Occasional Poetry, 1986.  Poetry

Fugard poetry

An anthology of poetry by novelists and playwrights.  Fugard contributes six Haiku, which are not particularly impressive.  The best is:
          Lucky night-borne midge
          Crawling across 'yesterday'
          The ink is dry.

Other contributors include Coetzee and Golding, Doris Lessing and Jean Rhys, C.S. Lewis and Arnold Wesker.  Alan Ayckbourn provides the nicest, "Cat crouching", whereas Golding shows he is a good novelist and a bad poet.

Tsotsi published 1980, written 1959-1960.  A novel

Fugard Tsotsi

A sort of Township novel. There are some similarities with Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, in particular the vicious hero, but it soon turns to sentimentality. There are good parts
it felt as if his feet and his heart were pointing in opposite directions
but it is overlong and too wordy, for example
His Sunday night now, come in a warm cloud of smoke and darkness in the streets and moths raging in soft storms around the lamps
etc for another 15 lines.

Another view is "The novel is stark in its realism, the social conditions it describes are appaling, and the mastery of fictional techiques maks it clear that if [Fugard] had not chosen the theater he probably would have had an equally distinguished career as a novelist" (African Literatures in the 20th Century, General Editor Leonard S. Klein).

Tsotsi means "black hooligan".

Notebooks 1960-1977

Fugard Notebooks

This is a major source of information on Fugard- his jottings and ideas.  As always he is very open about his writing. On Hello and Goodbye "A question I can't fully answer (yet? ever?): what is it that draws Johnnie to the crutches".

Cousins. A Memoir 1994

Fugard Cousins

Cousins is the first (and so far only) part of four autobiographical sketches. This covers two cousins from his childhood, Johnnie and Garth.

I remember my childhood as a time of a variety of disguises everything I have written has been an attempt to share secrets with you

The memoir is interesting, but it is also a defence mechanism by Fugard. If he wrote an autobiography then chronology would force him to cover all areas of his life. By choosing episodes he reveals only what he wants. Even so he is evasive "for various reasons parental supervision of our free time was very lax".


Books about Fugard


Athol Fugard 2003

Fugard by Dennis Walder

Dennis Walder's literary biography of Fugard.  Walder also wrote the first book on Fugard in 1984.

Gadamer, History, and the Classics : Fugard, Marowitz, Berkoff, and Harrison Rewrite the Theatre 2002

Gadamer, History and the Classics, Fugard, berkoff

Alison Forsyth in Studies in Literary Criticism and Theory, V. 15.  42 pages on Fugard "Antigone, Fugard and ´The Tradition of the Oppressed´".

Amid Our Troubles 2002

Amid our Troubles

editors J. Michael Walton and Marianne McDonald

"This collection of provocative essays reveals how some of the great Irish poets and dramatists, of the past and present, have drawn on Greek myths and used these stories, which have travelled across three thousand years, to bring new insights on the world in which we now live.

Including essays from, amongst others, Athol Fugard, Seamus Heaney and Tom Paulin Amid Our Troubles looks at the work of such writers as Marina Carr, Brian Friel, Brendan Kennelly, Frank McGuinness and W. B. Yeats. "

Writers in Conversation 2001

Writers in Conversation

Volume One with Christopher Bigsby.

An interview with Fugard (12 pages) as well as 21 other writers including August Wilson, Doris Lessing, Wole Soyinka, James Baldwin, Salman Rushdie.

"- Can you explain to me why it is that in most of your plays there are only two or three characters?
- I am a miniaturist- that is the size of the canvas I can fill.  I don't think I would know how to fill a bigger canvas.  The thought of a play with seven or eight characters intimidates me"

The Dramatic Art of Athol Fugard:
from South Africa to the World 2000

Dramatic Art fo Athol Fugard

Albert Wertheim's biography of Fugard. Very good on both Fugard and his work.

"In its final and advanced lesson, My Children! My Africa! teaches its difficult truth, a truth that is as applicable to education and social change as it is to theatre: mere words devoid of actions or feelings are empty rhetoric; mere actions devoid of words or reasoned thought are mayhem... Mr. M stands in his classroom holding his dictionary in one hand and a rock that has been thrown through his window in the other. Each symbol by itself represents a worthless approach..."

My Children! My Africa!

Athol Fugard and Barney Simon 1999

Athol Fugard and Barney Simon

The sub-title, Bare stage, a few props, great theatre is a quote by Fugard to Simon on what they required for their next performance.  A book about the author Mary Benson's friendship with Fugard and Simon. Enjoyable, well written with good insights and recommended.

Athol Fugard

"The group's first performance had been given in an abandoned snake-pit at Port Elizabeth's museum and snake park; they decided to call themselves the Serpent Players"

Master Harold... Casebook 1997

Master Harold Casebook

The full text of "Master Harold"... and the Boys plus a good selection of reprinted articles to help the student.  The articles cover the play, South Africa, Athol Fugard, racism etc.  There are also interviews with Fugard and with Zakes Mokae.

Modern Drama from Ibsen to Fugard 1992

Ibsen to Fugard

by Terry Hodgson.  An overview of drama with one chapter (9 pages) on Fugard.  Good general information.

File on Fugard 1991

File on Fugard

A short guide to his works by Stephen Gray.  A summary of all the plays up to My Children, with excerpts from contemporary newspaper reviews.

"Mr. Fugard´s two earlier plays, No-Good Friday and Nongogo, had plenty of real meat in them. The Blood Knot is the finest so far. The problem is: where can such a play find a wider audience? Perhaps, like No-Good Friday, it will have to travel to Rhodesia, but its true home and greatest impact must surely lie here" (1961)

Athol Fugard A Bibliography 1991

Athol Fugard Bibliography

A bibliography by John Read.  A summary of reviews of Fugard, up to My Children! My Africa!

Characters 1989

Antony Sher Characters

Drawings by actor Antony Sher, including two of Fugard.

Athol Fugard by Antony Sher Athol Fugard by Antony Sher

Truth the hand can touch 1985

Thuths the Hand can Touch

A major literary biography by Russell Vandenbroucke. This covers Fugard´s work up to the 1980s and Master Harold.

"While Fugard has never left South Africa for a long period, like Genet he is a kind of exile in his own home, estranged from the mainstream of life around him"

"In nearly every work an insecure character tries to find his identity and assert the dignity inherent in his humanity"

Athol Fugard 1984

Athol Fugard by Dennis Walder

The first full-length study of Fugard by Dennis Walder.  The plays up to Master Harold.  There are good insights into the works

"All Fugard´s plays approximate to the same model established in The Blood Knot: a small cast of ´marginal´ characters is presented in a passionately close relationship embodying the tensions current in their society"

and it also has some good criticism:

"...he adopts the role of white man without whom, it seems, Africans are unable to understand the implications of their own situation".

Fugard in Statements after an arrest under the immorality act

With 12 good photos.  The photo above is of Fugard and Bryceland in Statements.  Note that Walder has written a new book on Fugard published in 2003.

Athol Fugard 1982

Athol Fugartd Stephen Grey

Edited by Stephen Grey.  A large collection of essays on Fugard´s work. Very useful.

Athol Fugard

"I have a sense that my most finely crafted play, just best constructed, is Boesman and Lena. The play which sort of lurks in my life, though, ... is Statements after an arrest under the Immorality Act"

Athol Fugard: A Source Guide 1982

Athol Fugard Source Guide

compiled by Temple Hauptfleisch, Wilma Viljoen and Céleste van Greunen.  A bibliography, concentrating on South African magazine articles. With a good short introduction.

Tantalisingly Dimetos is mentioned with audio recordings of the rehearsal (9 cassettes, 14 hours), a recording of the first production (2 cassettes, 2 hours) and a recording of the Edinburgh production (1 cassette, 1 1/2 hours).

York Notes on Selected Plays Fugard 1980

York Notes on Athol Fugard

by Dennis Walder (the front page is incorrectly spelt as Denis).  A good guide for students.  A general introduction the detailed summaries of Sizwe Bansi, Island and Statements.  The commentaries on topics such as The Play and Image and The Play and Politics.

Sophocles to Fugard 1977

Sophocles to Fugard

by Brian Stone and Pat Scorer.  Short pieces on 16 plays, each of which was produced for the BBC and the Open University.  The final play is Sizwe Bansi (6 pages plus photo).

Fugard Sizwe Bansi is Dead

"Not that we need a play to tell us that apartheid is evil: a pamphlet could do that better.  But to prove it on our pulses as well as our minds we need the help of art".

Further books (information on these is welcome):

Athol Fugard: a Case Book by Kimball King.  Published by Garland Science, July 1997.

Exploring the labyrinth : Athol Fugard's approach to South African drama by Margarete Seidenspinner 1986


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