David Lewis-Williams

There Be Foragers

Affluence without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen

By

Bloomsbury 297pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

In 1856 the Reverend Henry Tindall addressed a Cape Town audience: ‘He has no religion, no laws, no government, no recognised authority, no patrimony, no fixed abode … a soul, debased, it is true, and completely bound down and clogged by his animal nature … morally, as well as physically, his aspect is dark and discouraging.’ He was speaking of the southern African Bushmen, or San as they are widely known today. Since those days of disgust, the Western image of the San has undergone changes, not all for the good. One of the chief architects of what became a common perception of the San was Sir Laurens van der Post, whose romantic view derived from his own conception of the West’s supposedly impoverished spirituality. In his widely read book The Lost World of the Kalahari (1958), he wrote: ‘Perhaps this life of ours, which begins as a quest of the child for the man, and ends as a journey by the man to rediscover the child, needs a clear image of some child-man, like the Bushman, wherein the two are firmly and lovingly joined.’

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,