diumenge, 17 de maig de 2009

NADINE GORDIMER


She is a South African writer, political activist and Nobel laureate.

Her writing has long dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa.

She was active in the anti-apartheid movement, joining theAfrican National Congress during the days when the organization was banned.

She quickly became active in South African politics, and was close friends with Nelson Mandela's defence attorneys during his 1962 trial. When Mandela was released from prison in 1990, Gordimer was one of the first people he wanted to see.

During the 1960s and 1970s, she continued to live in Johannesburg, although she occasionally left for short periods of time to teach at several universities in the United States.

Throughout this time, Gordimer continued to demand through both her writing and her activism that South Africa re-examine and replace its long held policy of apartheid:

-During this time, the South African government banned several of her works, two for lengthy periods of time:

* The Late Bourgeois World was, for a decade.

* A World of Strangers was banned for twelve years.

- Other works were censored for lesser amounts of time:

* Burger's Daughter

* Essential Gesture

* July's People was also banned under apartheid, and faced censorship under the post-apartheid government as well.

Her works began achieving literary recognition early in her career. Literary recognition for her accomplishments culminated with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.

Gordimer's activism has not been limited to the struggle against apartheid. She has resisted censorship and state control of information, and fostered the literary arts.

Gordimer has achieved lasting international recognition for her works, most of which deal with:

-political issues,

-the "moral and psychological tensions of her racially divided home country."

-themes of love and politics, particularly concerning race in South Africa.

-Always questioning power relations and truth, Gordimer:

·tells stories of ordinary people,

·revealing moral ambiguities and choices.

In her work:

-there is affection for her homeland, its people, epic landscapes and potent past.

-This is juxtaposed with an examination of the devastating psychological effects of political persecution on the lives of ordinary South Africans.

-Like compatriots Alan Paton and J.M. Coetzee, Gordimer has dramatised the history of her country.

-She has addressed:

·the violence of Apartheid,

·the duplicity, physic tension and perversion of normalcy of the totalitarian state.

-She examines the complexity of white privilege, inviting us to see the weakness of the liberal response to Apartheid.

-She also investigates its attempts at self-justification and finds that even in benevolence, there can be an ugly egotism.

Gordimer is a writer of extraordinary power and acuity:

-Like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, Gordimer is adept at delineating the relationship between the personal and the political.

-In her long career she has charted each stage of South Africa’s history with a daring refusal to compromise.

-She deals with the problem of belonging in a segregated society.

-She shows us place as prison. How do you feel a part of a society which is founded upon the wilful mistreatment of millions of its citizens? What do you do when your very country has been stolen from you?

-Nadine Gordimer’s stories are testament to her belief in the redemptive power of humanity.

-While Gordimer shares Kafka’s interest in abandonment and metaphysical confusion, she finds space for the possibility of optimism.

-Her work explores intimacies, the depths of yearning, the multiple betrayals of human relationship, and the many ways people learn to cope in a world which has lost its head.

The Lying Days (1953)

It is a Bildungsroman, a story of a young person's growth and education, charting:

-the growing political awareness of a young white woman, Helen,

-toward small-town life and South African racial division.

The themes highlight the interaction between the personal and the public.

It is a topical novel that engages directly with the history of South Africa in the twentieth century, particularly with the period in which apartheid was established. As a result, the body is a focus of interest as Helen grows up and discovers sexuality and at the same time recognizes the racism of her society.

Positive and negative versions of bodily discovery are juxtaposed:

-Helen's adolescent feelings well up from her inmost self and propel her beyond the narrow life of her parents.

-Beneath her feet, however, quite literally, are thousands of buried black bodies, miners in the underground seams, whose existence is invisible to her.

Gordimer is interested in the space where the political and the emotional interact. This is where her characters really come to life. This first novel makes that very clear.

July's People (1981)

She wrote this book before the end of apartheid as her prediction of how it would end.

Gordimer imagines a bloody South African revolution, in which white people are hunted and murdered after black people begin a revolution against the apartheid government.

The work follows Maureen and Bamford Smales, an educated white couple, hiding for their lives with July, their long-time former servant.

The novel plays off the various groups of "July's people":

-his family and his village,

-as well as the Smales.

The story examines how people cope with the terrible choices forced on them by violence, race hatred, and the state.

July's People captures the mood of a South Africa expecting revolutionary violence just like that experienced by neighbouring countries.

instead of writing about a revolution, however, :

- the novel assumes such an event will happen and imagines what affect it might have on a liberal white family.

-In this case, the family decides to accept their servant's offer of refuge and flee to his village.

-There, with all the awkwardness of Friday nursing Robinson Crusoe, they hope to wait out the war.

-Gradually, all the family's accoutrements of civilization are given up, stolen, or proven to be completely useless.

-Simultaneously, the power relations of society are revealed as hollow.

-However, there is hope in that self-awareness and in the children's immersion in village life as a possible route to the construction of a new South Africa.

Gordimer's Nobel Prize put the searchlight on a country in painful transition from an oppressive racism to a turbulent democracy. South Africa's literature is rich. But beyond doubt, Nadine Gordimer is the writer that most stubbornly has kept the true face of racism in front of us, in all its human complexities.