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Dan Jacobson Biography

(1929– ), The Trap, A Dance in the Sun, The Price of Diamonds, The Evidence of Love

South African novelist and short-story writer, born in Johannesburg. In 1980 he became Reader in English at University College, London. Jacobson's naturalistic earlier novels, The Trap (1955), A Dance in the Sun (1956), The Price of Diamonds (1958), The Evidence of Love (1960), and The Beginners (1966), illuminate different aspects of the human condition in South Africa. The Wonder-Worker (1973) and The Confessions of Joseph Baisz (1977) focus on lonely, alienated figures, and examine unstable states of mind. The first is set in contemporary London, but the second creates an imaginary Kafkaesque country bearing some resemblance to South Africa, in which ‘Joseph Baisz’ is fated to love only those he has first betrayed. The Rape of Tamar (1970) is a modern retelling of the power struggle between King David and his sons. Her Story (1987), the most subtle and enigmatic of Jacobson's fictional works, is an elaborate, extended parable, which examines the story of the Virgin Mary, but in the context of a world plagued by guerrilla war, intense suffering, and ironic futurology. In Hidden in the Heart (1991), a young white South African in England is emotionally exploited by his older English lover; The God-Fearer (1992) is set in a fictionalized medieval central Europe in which Judaism is the dominant religion and the Christian minority persecuted by a demagogue. His other works include the short stories in A Long Way from London (1958), Through the Wilderness (1968), and Inklings (1973); Time and Time Again: Autobiographies (1985); Adult Pleasures (1988), essays on literature; and The Electronic Elephant (1994), about a journey through post-apartheid South Africa.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Robin’ [Iris Guiver Wilkinson] ‘Hyde Biography to Percy Janes Biography