The literary archives of experience: Richard Rive’s Oxford Library

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This article responds to the critical impasse between internal and external analysis by considering how the public careers of texts revealed to us by material archives shape literary interpretation. It takes as a case study the anti-apartheid short story ‘The Bench’ by Richard Rive, its adaptations across genres and audiences between South Africa and the United States, and its status in an unusual archive of dedicated first editions bequeathed to Rive’s former Oxford College.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252–270
Number of pages19
JournalThe Cambridge Quarterly
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Richard Rive, South African literature, Archival methods, Close reading, 'The Bench', Adaptation, Black existentialism