A cedar falls: UP remembers alumnus, Dr PG du Plessis

Posted on June 14, 2017


It is with great regret that the University of Pretoria (UP) learned of the death of formidable wordsmith and UP alumnus, Dr PG du Plessis on Wednesday, 7 June 2017. Du Plessis was an Afrikaans writer, dramatist and academic, who enriched the South African literary scene through a wide variety of writings, including notable contributions to Afrikaans drama.

Du Plessis was born on 14 July 1934 in Boshof in the Free State. He matriculated from the Hoër Volkskool in Heidelberg. After matric, he began studying at UP where he obtained a BA in 1955 and an education diploma in 1957. He continued his studies while working full-time and obtained his doctorate in 1966. NP van Wyk Louw, another Afrikaans literary giant, was his promoter.

In 1969, he published his debut work, Die nag van Legio, a stark drama that plays out in a mental institution. The following year, this work was awarded the WA Hofmeyr Prize. His next play, Siener in die suburbs, is an exceptional literary work that depicts ordinary working-class people in unusual circumstances. Decades later, the piece is still relevant and is still regularly performed at art festivals throughout the country. In 1972, Du Plessis was awarded the Hertzog Prize for Drama for Die nag van Legio and Siener in die suburbs.

Over the years, Du Plessis continued to produce a wide variety of literary works, including Plaston: DNS-kind, a futuristic piece of science fiction about a boy created by a scientist; ’n Seder val in Waterkloof, a drama in which he pokes fun at academics who see themselves as superior to ‘normal’ people; and The married man's guide to adultery: a study of adulterations, a remarkable novel about the myths (adulterations) that can hamper a small community. His rubrics, which were published during his time as a journalist, were also later reworked as a popular TV series titled Koöperasiestories. It was, however, his novel Fees van die ongenooides (2008) that firmly cemented his place among the great Afrikaans writers of his time and earned him the 2009 ATKV Prize.  

In addition to his great literary legacy, Du Plessis will also forever be remembered by many South Africans for the many films he made and for his part in the talk show Spies and Plessis.

The University would like to express its deep condolences to Dr Du Plessis's loved ones. His contribution to the world of Afrikaans literature will live on for many years.



- Author Ansa Heyl

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