Nadine Gordimer's July's People

Nadine Gordimer's July's People

Nadine Gordimer's July's People

Nadine Gordimer's July's People


Nadine Gordimer is one of the most important writers to emerge in the twentieth century. Her anti-Apartheid novel July's People(1981) is a powerful example of resistance writing and continues even now to unsettle easy assumptions about issues of power, race, gender and identity.

This guide to Gordimer's compelling novel offers:

  • an accessible introduction to the text and contexts of July's People
  • a critical history, surveying the many interpretations of the text from publication to the present
  • a selection of new and reprinted critical essays on July's People, providing a range of perspectives on the novel and extending the coverage of key approaches identified in the critical survey
  • cross-references between sections of the guide, in order to suggest links between texts, contexts and criticism
  • suggestions for further reading.

Part of the Routledge Guides to Literatureseries, this volume is essential reading for all those beginning detailed study of July's Peopleand seeking not only a guide to the novel, but a way through the wealth of contextual and critical material that surrounds Gordimer's text.


Nadine Gordimer is a writer of the first importance. Much read and much loved, hers has been a lifelong struggle to study the sentiments that make us human and to place these sentiments within the larger context of her commitment to end Apartheid – a systemically racist South African policy that sought to dehumanize the black citizenry. Gordimer’s focus upon human sentiments and her focus upon her anti-racist commitments are related. What is universal in her fiction is intimately related to her humanizing of the local. Readers will find matters of weight engrained in the detail of Gordimer’s work – reflections on art, history, politics, psychology, emotion, sex and power. No living writer combines these issues so well, or communicates them so intelligently and elegantly. July’s People is one of Gordimer’s finest achievements. Written in a period of massive political transition, it coincides with Gordimer’s major phase, during which she abandoned consoling white liberal myths and consolidated her utter commitment to ending Apartheid.

This book has been written to help and enthuse readers who are interested in July’s People. It offers a multidimensional introductory account of the novel. The volume is divided into three sections. The first, ‘Text and contexts’ (pp. 4–35) begins with an account of Gordimer’s accomplished life and literary career. It relates her South African origins to some of the themes at work in her fiction. In order to help readers to understand Gordimer’s relationship to politics and to history, a brief but detailed account follows of the origins of Apartheid, its consequences and its overthrow by progressive action. The section ends with a detailed account of July’s People, with a focus upon its key concerns, characters, events and conclusion.

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