Herman Charles Bosman’s unique account of the term he served as a young man in Pretoria Central Prison. Convicted of murder, and initially condemned to hang on death row, he had his sentence commuted to be a regular convict through the 1920s and into the 30s.
By turns gruesome and humorous, and bravely wrenched out of his tortured memory, when it was first published in 1949 Cold Stone Jug was greeted as too grim and dubious for polite literary circles, although it proved a reliable seller. Its rise to classic status has been unstoppable, and it is now widely considered the founding text of all South African prison writings. As readable as ever, it is now hailed as Bosman’s masterpiece of irony as well, vivid and unforgettable.
This text of Cold Stone Jug is edited from the original edition, corrected by Bosman himself, with a detailed introduction placing the work in the historical and literary context it served to shape.
“This is really a love story – a story of adolescent love … Her eyes were heavily fringed with dark lashes, like barred windows. Her bosom was hard and pure and cold – like a cement floor. And it was a faithful and chaste love. During all those years of my young manhood, in whose arms did I sleep each night, but in hers?”