Thomas Pringle's intellectual and emotional quest for progressive conduct and action is his great contribution to South African literature, and what makes his work potent and relevant today. When his Poems Illustrative of South Africa was published in 1834 the following comment appeared in the Cape of Good Hope Literary Gazette: 'Pringle's new work is causing a shaking among the dry bones of the Colony. It has been aptly termed a bunch of whip-cord; it must certainly prove lacerating to much of the proud flesh around us. This book includes all the poems in Poems Illustrative of South Africa - out of print for some years - as well as Pringle's own Notes to the Poems. In an appendix are extracts from his Narrative of a Residence in South Africa and other supplementary texts illustrating his earlier Scottish poetry and his later writings. In a new Introduction the editors - both well known academics and teachers of South African literature - outline the poet's life, consider the influences on his writing and demonstrate the relevance of his work in twentieth century South Africa.
For the issues he wrestled with are still alive today - racial conflict, political oppression, censorship and the needs for freedom of expression.' Pringle was born in 1789 and died in 1834, the year of the Emancipation of the Slaves - the cause to which he had devoted the last years of his life. It is fitting that the bicentenary of his birth should be marked by an African edition of his African poems.