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Elegy for a Revolutionary

C. J. Driver
Date Published
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Six young men are arrested in Cape Town for subversion. Successful sabotage requires a high degree of loyalty, mutual confidence and efficiency; and it is an almost unbelievable shock when their betrayer turns out to be the one who has done most to organise and unite them. As the story unfolds, from the inception of the group until the moment of the arrest and the bitterness of the aftermath, the anatomy of the conspiracy is totally exposed – as is the character of the traitor: brilliant, nervy, likeable, perhaps aware all the time that he contains within himself the seeds of his own and others’ destruction.

First published in 1969, Elegy for a Revolutionary is a gripping narrative which is at the same time an examination of the nature of loyalty and treachery, both personal and political. It is an immensely impressive and intelligent novel that draws from C. J. Driver’s own experience of underground political action in South Africa during the early 1960s.

‘. . . it a tribute to his skill that both the people and the setting in Elegy for a Revolutionary emerge with immense vividness, that the clash of motives and temperaments among his six anti-apartheid saboteurs seems fresh, real, subtle and touching. Mr Driver weaves his plot intricately, with an almost cinematic technique of cross-cutting and flashback. The growth and decline of the organization and the aftermath of their exposure are revealed in terse and gripping narrative. Mr Driver has restated the liberal dilemma in a way that is all the more discerning, original and intelligent for its careful understatement.’ Times Literary Supplement

Further C. J. Driver novels including Death of Fathers, Messiah of the Last Days and Send War in Our Time, O Lord will be available through Faber Finds in the coming months.


C. J. Driver is a poet, novelist and educator. Born in South Africa in 1939, he was until 2000 Master of Wellington College. His other novels are Elegy for a Revolutionary, Send War in Our Time, O Lord and A Messiah of the Last Days. Since 1984, he has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

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