Life in South Africa: Nadine Gordimer

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Ryan Stewart
Contemporary Lit.
Mr. Weber
5/30/09
 
Life In South Africa: Nadine Gordimer
 
 
On November 20 of 1923, in a mining town on the Eastern Witwatersrand, South Africa, was born one of the worlds most influential novelist, Nadine Gordimer. Though being born in South Africa, she was of Jewish heritage, her mother was from England but soon emigrated to South Africa with Gordimer's grandfather, who was a diamond miner. Her father was from Russia but was also a Latvian Jew who immigrated to South Africa and had a jewelry shop in Springs. Gordimer's life was mostly spent living in South Africa, as a child her life was nothing but solitude and a vast amount of reading. It was this great exposure to literature that caused her to adjust her view of native people. As she grew older into a more knowledgeable adult she studied at the Witwatersrand, where she received her education as a day scholar and then continued her studies as a student at the University of the Witwatersrand, but most of her life was spent realizing and writing the events that happened in her life each and everyday. After learning what she needed to learn, she then left the University and returned home after a year to concentrate on her fiction. A few years later in 1949, Gordimer married Gerald Gavronsky. The two had a daughter and then were divorced in 1952. Gordimer was re-married again in 1954 to Reinhold Cassirer. Together they had a son.    Throughout her time, she had written several novels that had won prizes such as the James Tait Black Memorial prize for A Guest of Honour. She had also won the Noble-prize in 1991 for being outstanding in Literature with her short stories and novels. Nadine’s stories were primarily based on movements of racial segregation and the apartheid, which was a major separation of Africans between 1948 and 1994. Growing up in a hostile South Africa meant total chaos to all who lived there, especially different races that were caught in the cross-fires of civil war. Gordimer used these everyday observations of the events around to flow into an overwhelming work of art in a story. As many readers would say, it’s fairly easy to find the precise detail used in every one of her stories to display both the settings of South Africa and the human predicaments of a racially frustrated world.  

Gordimer began to write as a child. Her mother often pestered her and kept her home for her mother’s “reasons of her own”. At the age of fifteen, Nadine had successfully written and published her first ever short story in a very popular magazine called Forum. As time went on, Gordimer’s works were seen more and more in these magazines until it came a point where it would be uncommon to not see her in one. As said before, Nadine had focused mostly all her work on the Apartheid and racial movements in South Africa. Her writing has always dealt with moral and racial issues because as she says there is no enlightenment with all the hate and warfare around her, so what better way than to construct a story out of every event that related to these times. She had a great knowledge of activism, which she saw through her mother, as well as a great concern for the poverty and discrimination in South Africa that she discovered a “crèche” or a haven for black children. A huge roadblock was placed on this girl’s life because not only did she fight against racism and poverty, but also she struggled against censorship as well as state control of information. Nadine had always resisted censorship because she though it was unfair to most writers because you can’t truly expresses your emotions through the book if people are telling you what and not what to write. “Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever.”(Nadine Gordimer, enotes.com) During this time, the South African government found censorship needed everywhere. Nadine had two books...
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