Voyage Through the Past Century, Rolf Knight’s vivid and thoughtful memoir of his life as an independent socialist scholar and writer, is published this month by New Star Books. Knight has written some of the most important and influential history books about British Columbia, including A Very Ordinary Life and Indians at Work.
Written with the same verve and acumen that Knight brought to his ouevre of works about BC’s working-class history, Voyage Through the Past Century is described by Mark Leier as “a fascinating account of a vanishing world … informed by a deep, personal appreciation of workers and a smart, pugnacious disgust for capitalism and its apologists.”
Born while his parents worked at a remote coastal logging camp, Knight was raised in working-class East Vancouver, a period documented in A Very Ordinary Life and Along the No. 20 Line. A bright student, he studied at the University of British Columbia and went on to obtain a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University, training that is put to good use in his observations of the people and the communities he encountered in Africa, South America, Northern Quebec, post-war Berlin, 1950s New York, and 1970s Canadian academia.
An earlier version of Voyage Through the Past Century was privately printed and circulated among Knight’s friends twenty years ago, and copies have been avidly sought ever since. Knight was recognized in 1992 by the Canadian Historical Association with a Clio Award for his lifetime contribution to regional history. He lives in Burnaby, BC.