Stories Echoing a Long Career; Ten Stories from the South African Nobel Laureate

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 4, 2003 | Go to article overview

Stories Echoing a Long Career; Ten Stories from the South African Nobel Laureate


Byline: Colin Walters, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Nadine Gordimer's novels and short stories have provided one of the more sustained and rich reading experiences over the past half a century since her first novel, "The Lying Days," came out in 1953. This short new book, "Loot, and Other Stories," might be read as a sampler of all that has gone before in the South African Nobel (1991) laureate's long string of works.

One of the shorter tales in the collection of 10 is called "Visiting George," and has the narrator and a conference colleague mingling with the London crowds and glimpsing George, an old comrade from the South African movement days. On impulse, they look in at George's apartment, but are told by the stranger there that he has been dead for several years. A parting reflection is very much in the mood of these stories:

"If I dreamt this, while walking, walking in the London streets, the subconscious of each and every other life, past and present brushing me in passing, what makes it real?

"Writing it down."

Miss Gordimer went to a convent school until she was 10, when a heart ailment resulted in her being tutored at home for the next several years. It was during this time that solitude and dissatisfaction with the company available led her to begin writing down her thoughts. A first short story, "Come Again Tomorrow," was published when she was 15.

In her 20s, the writer married and had children, a son and a daughter, coming away with the sensitivity toward family life and the domestic round that has always been one of her great strengths. Whatever else, politics, race and so on, may be at issue in a Gordimer novel or story, the personal gets woven in, lending intimacy to more socially wide ranging dramas.

Throughout these stories, the trait is on display, perhaps most affectingly in "The Generation Gap." Four siblings, responsible Virginia and Barbara, their somewhat detached brother Matthew living in Australia, and Jamie, the youngest and a bit of a ne-er-do-well, react individually and together to a family crisis. Their affectionate father, at age 67, has left their mother for a young violinist, a woman never married but with a child.

The shared trouble brings the siblings back to each other from their variously scattered lives, and they are resolved to correct the outrage that has occurred. Grief and anger color the two sisters' talk and actions Virginia and Barbara go to a concert to see the woman perform, they resent their father's presenting his relations with her as somehow normal.

Race hovers in the background of the other resentments; among the siblings Virginia had a love affair with an Indian boy when she was young, a matter about which her parents, for all their white liberal sympathies, could never be told when it came to one of their own daughters.

Miss Gordimer once said that she might never have got into writing about politics, had she not stayed in South Africa under the rule of apartheid.

As matters turned out, it is in her studies of subjects like inter-racial love and persecution, labor relations and the legacies of colonialism that her mature reputation was made. In recent years, it has been a matter of keen interest to see her dealing like Andre Brink, John Coetzee and other South African writers with apartheid's aftermath.

Several stories in these pages confront the changing situation in South Africa and farther afield. One view of the racial divide is given an updated face in the story, "Mission Statement," at 60 or so pages one of the longest here. Rebecca Blayne, 46 and divorced, is posted to an African nation "in transition," to work for an aid program with offices in New York and Geneva. Roberta has worked in other countries, though never before in Africa. All in all both she and Alan Ferguson, her chief, have spent enough time in former colonies to be no longer conscious of themselves as being white.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Stories Echoing a Long Career; Ten Stories from the South African Nobel Laureate
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.