I went to a friend’s funeral yesterday. I was quite pleased to be allowed to go as the numbers were restricted due to the virus. The church in the village where I used to live was just as I remembered and just as cold.
It was nice to see old friends as well as to say a fond farewell to a remarkable man. Christopher was a one off. He was born in South Africa nearly 93 years ago and grew up on a fruit farm. His mother was quite forward thinking and he and his brother were home schooled till they were old enough to attend the high school.
He studied at Stellenbosch University from where he won a place as a Rhodes Scholar at New College Oxford and it was there that his English Literature journey got started. He was a senior lecturer at Sheffield University and also taught in Nigeria and Japan. I didn’t meet him till he was in his 70’s when I moved to Gargrave in the Yorkshire Dales. He was funny, outrageous, charming and delightful and very good company. In 2004 Cambridge University Press published his main piece of work, A History of South African Literature.
In 2002 he edited a version of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and used the opportunity to focus on the landscape as described in the book. “This edition adds to the continuing debate about the origins, structure, and meaning of one of the greatest – and most enigmatic – novels in English.” I am lucky enough to have a signed version.