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Circles in a Forest


Saul Barnard is a woodcutter with a restless soul - he wants to keep strangers away from the Forest and stop the destruction of the Forest. There is also the legendary elephant bull - Old Foot - which broke free from his herd. Old Foot and Saul share a strange bond ... In the green duskiness of the Outeniqua they walk on circular paths. Saul Barnard, rejected by his people and humiliated by unscrupulous timber merchants; Old Foot, relentlessly followed by hunters. A man and his animal brother - together in an untouched ancient forest that is being destroyed by gold diggers, woodcutters and other eradicators. Saul follows Old Foot's tracks, closer and closer to the truth that will change his life forever.

In Circles in a Forest, Dalene Matthee focuses on conservation and strongly speaks out against the reckless destruction of the indigenous forest. She also takes up the issue of the heartless exploitation of those less privileged - the illiterate people, specifically the people of the forest, but not only them. Attitudes and relationships are important underpinnings in her work.

  • Kringe in 'n bos (Circles in a Forest) has been translated into English, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Icelandic, Spanish, Hebrew, German, Swedish, Italian, Finnish and Norwegian.
  • In 2006, Exclusive Books compiled a list of the 101 Books to Read Before You Die. Only three Afrikaans books were included, among them Kringe in 'n bos (Circles in a Forest) and Fiela se kind (Fiela's Child).
  • Philo Pieterse Productions produced Circles in a Forest as a feature film.
  • Kringe in 'n bos (Circles in a Forest) is available in Braille and on cassette for the visually impaired.
  • Click here for the Kindle Edition

There is a special Circles in a Forest Tour based on Dalene Matthee's book by the same name. To find more information at CLICK HERE, send e-mail to, or call 073 3636 522.

Circles in a ForestCircles in a Forest
Saul Barnard is a woodcutter with a restless soul - he wants to keep strangers away from the Forest and stop the destruction of the Forest ... read more
Fiela's ChildFiela's Child
On the one side of the mountain, in the Long Kloof, there's Fiela Komoetie, devoted to her foundling - the child God entrusted to her one night when she found the three-year-old boy crying on her doorstep - a castaway lamb ... read more
The Mulberry ForestThe Mulberry Forest
Silkworm farmers from Italy were lured to Gouna in the Knysna Forest to establish a silk industry. The only problem was that mulberry trees refused to grow in sticky mud ... read more
It tells the story of the intimate relationship of an initiated "forest woman" with the heart of the forest, and how it becomes an obstacle in her experience of the man she loves ... read more

In the media

"Something is happening in Afrikaans ... A novel with breadth and depth and variety and wisdom, making an impression on our prose."
André P. Brink

"... undoubtedly one of the most readable and enjoyable novels ever to appear in Afrikaans."
J P Smuts, Die Burger

"Saul Barnard is a unique figure in our literature ... The events grab you to such an extent that you will never drive past Knysna again without thinking about these people and how they suffered."
Elsa Joubert, Die Vaderland

"Part romance and part an adventure story ... a haunting work"
Daily Express

"Circles in a Forest has the fervor and the passion of a Thomas Hardy or D.H. Lawrence novel, and much of the lush evocation of the wild those authors displayed."
New York Times Book Review

"It's a story of subtly linked circles . also richly evocative of the beauty, mystery and terror of the African woodlands."
Publishers Weekly

"Matthee has produced a masterpiece of fiction in protest against wanton destruction of land resources and wildlife and against the exploitation of the uneducated."
Kansas City Star

"As rich and deep and dark and luminous as the forest world she so generously evokes."
André P. Brink

Dalene Matthee, Suid-Afrikaanse skrywer van 13 boeke, is veral bekend vir haar vier Bosboeke" wat in die Knysna-bos afspeel. Haar boeke is in 14 tale vertaal.
Afrikaanse webwerf

Photographs on this website may not be used without permission.
Photographs © Hylton Herd.

Official website of Dalene Matthee.
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