Mattheus Uys Krige (4 February 1910 – 10 August 1987) was a South African writer of novels, short stories, poems and plays in both Afrikaans and English. He was born in Bontebokskloof (near Swellendam) in the Cape Province and educated at the University of Stellenbosch.
From 1931 to 1935 he lived in France and Spain, acquiring fluency in both languages. Whilst in France he played rugby for a club in Toulon, was a swimming coach on the Côte d'Azur, wrote poems and penned free-lance articles for the Afrikaans press. He returned to South Africa in 1935 and began a writing career as a reporter for the Rand Daily Mail. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War he campaigned passionately for the Republican forces, writing the Hymn of the Fascist Bombers in 1937, which elicited vehement condemnations from the pro-Nazi Nationalists and the South African Catholic Church. During World War II he was a war correspondent with the South African Army in North Africa. Captured at Tobruk in 1941, he was sent to Italy, spending two years in a prisoner of war camp from which he escaped to return to South Africa after learning to master Italian. After the National Party gained power in 1948 Krige actively opposed the moves of the new apartheid government to disenfranchise Coloured voters.
Krige is counted among the so-called Dertigers ("writers of the thirties"). He co-edited The Penguin Book of South African Verse (1968) with Jack Cope. He translated many of the works of Shakespeare into Afrikaans. He also translated works by Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda, Lope de Vega and Juan Ramón Jiménez from Spanish, works by Baudelaire, François Villon, Jacques Prévert, Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Éluard from French, and the poems of Salvatore Quasimodo and Giuseppe Ungaretti from Italian. His electrifying encounter with Latin American poetry whilst in Cairo during World War II also led him to translate the poetry of Jacinto Fombona-Pachano, Jose Ramon Heredia, Vicente Huidobro, Jorge Carrera Andrade, Nicolas Guillen, Cesar Vallejo, Jorge de Lima and Manual Bandeira from Spanish and Portuguese. Krige's literary talent combined with his passion for modern French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese literary output made him the principal mediator of Romance literature into Afrikaans in the twentieth century and had a considerable subsequent influence on South African writing.
A collection of letters written by Uys Krige was published by Hemel & See Boeke in 2010 under the title "Briewe van Uys Krige uit Frankryk en Spanje".
All publications are in Afrikaans unless otherwise noted. The English translations of the Afrikaans title s are given in brackets.
- Collected poems:
- Kentering (Change), 1935
- Rooidag (Red day), 1940
- Oorlogsgedigte (War poems), 1942
- Hart sonder hawe (Heart without harbour), 1949
- Ballade van die groot begeer (Ballad of the great desire), 1960
- Vooraand (The evening before), 1964
- Die palmboom (The palm tree), 1940
- The dream and the desert (in English), 1953
- Travelogues and war correspondence:
- The way out (in English), 1946
- Sol y sombra, 1948 (Sun and Shade), with illustrations by his brother François
- Ver in die wêreld (Far in the world), 1951
- Sout van die aarde (Salt of the earth), 1961
- Magdalena Retief, 1938
- Die goue kring (The golden circle), 1956
- One-act plays:
- Die wit muur (The white wall), 1940
- Alle paaie gaan na Rome (All roads lead to Rome), 1949
- Die sluipskutter, 1951 (translated by the author as "The sniper" in 1962)
- Cope, Jack, The Adversary Within, Dissident Writers in Afrikaans, David Philip, Cape Town 1982, p.32.
- Uys Krige, 1910–1987 at stellenboschwriters.com
- Nasson, Bill, South Africa at War 1939-1945, Jacana Media, Auckland Park 2012, p.17
- Cope, Jack, The Adversary Within, Dissident Writers in Afrikaans, David Philip, Cape Town 1982, pp.33-36.
- Uys Krige monograph at Encyclopædia Britannica online
- Cope, Jack, The Adversary Within, Dissident Writers in Afrikaans, David Philip, Cape Town 1982, pp.36-37.
- Loader, Catharina Bitter-sweet entrapment: A bird’s eye view of some prominent themes in South African literature at University of Vienna
- Cope, Jack, The Adversary Within, Dissident Writers in Afrikaans, David Philip, Cape Town 1982, pp.37-38.
- Cope, Jack, The Adversary Within, Dissident Writers in Afrikaans, David Philip, Cape Town 1982, pp.38.
- Cope, Jack, The Adversary Within, Dissident Writers in Afrikaans, David Philip, Cape Town 1982, p.38.
- A small town in South Africa The Independent. 31 March 1995