The literature on Afrikaans is the literature written among the so-called Boers (descendants of the Dutch colonists in the 17th century and the assimilated groups of Germans and French Huguenots ) and among the colored middle group of mixed ancestry, which also largely has Africans who their language. This literature can be traced all the way back to the colonization era, long before Africans had separated themselves from Dutch as an independent language. What was written in the 17th and 18th centuries is often travel and diary literature describing the difficulties the colonists encountered.
The first real flourishing period in the Afrikaans-language literature coincides with the so-called first “African movement” (1875-1902), as one became aware of its linguistic peculiarity, and the poets began to express themselves in the language that had hitherto been an oral means of expression. Leading personalities here are the lyricists Arnoldus Pannevis, CP Hoogenhout and Francis William Reitz and the proseists Jan Lion Cachet and Stephanus Jacobus du Toit, the latter also writing dramas.
The journal Die Patriot was of great importance. The second “African movement” began after the Boer War ended. It was not only a language movement in opposition to the Dutch, but also a struggle for national self-assertion towards British supremacy.
The lyricist Eugène Marais makes a transition from the previous movement, while the dominant figures in the first period were Jan FE Celliers, Totius ( pseudonym of JD du Toit) and C. Louis Leipoldt, all significant lyricists. Leipoldt also wrote novels and dramas. Other significant personalities include historian and literary critic Gustav Preller and lyricists and prose artists Daniël Francois Malherbe and Cornelis Jacobus Langenhoven.
In a later generation of lyricists, Andries Gerhardus Visser, AD Keet and Toon van den Heever, the national romantic element gives way to a stronger concentration on the individual. The breakthrough for the realistic novel came with Jochem van Bruggen, who derived his material from the white proletariat. In his footsteps, Mikro (pseudonym of Christoffel Hermanus Kühn) followed with his novels from the poor mixed-race environment. The same environment also forms the backdrop for lyricist Sydney Vernon Petersen.
Within the lyrics, “moving van thirty” (the thirty-year movement) initiates a renewal in the direction of confessional poetry. The movement has produced a number of poets who have dominated literature in our time with names such as William Ewart Gladstone Louw, Nicolaas Petrus van Wyk Louw, the eminent cosmopolitan Uys Krige and Elisabeth Eybers, who also made a mark in Dutch-speaking areas in Europe, as well as Christiaan Maurits. van den Hever and Hettie Smit, who together with Uys Krige represent similarly in the prose. The most important lyricists in the post- World War II era are Diederik Johannes Opperman, Peter Blum, Ingrid Jonker, Ina Rousseau, Boerneef (pseudonym of Izak Wilhelmus van der Merwe),Breyten Breytenbach and Peter John Philander and Adam Small.
In the field of prose there has been a significant renewal in the same period: a European modernism that is often united with something typically African. Leading writers here are Christopher Johannes Michael Nienaber and Jan Sebastian Rabie. In particular, novelists André Brink, Étienne Leroux, Karel Schoeman, Elsa Joubert and Wilma Stockenström have won international recognition. Also a lot more salient novel lists must be mentioned: Abraham H. de Vries, Chris Barnard, Hennie Aucamp and Henriette Grové. In the area of the drama you will find names like Henriette Grové, Bartho Smit, Dolf van Niekerk, André Brink, Adam Small, Chris Barnard, George Louw and Pieter Georg du Plessis.
Afrikaans writing writers were often strong and clear in their criticism of the conditions during the apartheid regime. The official censor cared little for criticism in fictional form, however, it was very sensitive to blasphemy. After the fall of the regime, the former critical writers have written about the country’s social problems and the settlement of the past, including Brink, Breytenbach, Joubert, Schoeman, Etienne van Heerden, Antjie Krog and Lettie Viljoen. Attention attracted the colored Andrew HM Scholtz when he made his debut in 1995 with the novel Vatmaar on the poor mixed-race community in the village of Vatmaar.