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Summary Article: van der Post, Laurens Jan from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

South African writer. His books, many of them autobiographical tales of adventure with anthropological themes, reflect his fascination with diverse cultures and with theories of cultural difference. Several, notably Jung and the Story of Our Time (1976), are also influenced by the theories of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. Van der Post believed that, in order to achieve wholeness, Western man should embrace intuition, individualism, and myth (the way he felt some other cultures do), thereby counteracting what he saw as the excessive rationality and spiritual impoverishment of Western civilization. His best-known works, which record the disappearing culture of the Bushmen of the Kalahari, are The Lost World of the Kalahari (1958), The Heart of the Hunter (1961), and Testament to the Bushmen (1984). He was knighted in 1981.

Born in Philippolis, South Africa, he was a commando in World War II and was captured by the Japanese. His first (and his most overtly political) novel, In a Province (1934), was an indictment of race relations in South Africa; later works include Flamingo Feather (1955), The Hunter and the Whale (1967), A Story like the Wind (1972), and A Far-off Place (1974). He wrote about Japanese prisoner-of-war camps in The Seed and the Sower (1963, filmed as Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence in 1983). Yet Being Someone Other (1982) is a collection of autobiographical stories.

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van der Post, Laurens Jan

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