January 22, 2012
REREADING NADINE GORDIMER
Nadine Gordimer, Burger's Daughter: A Novel (New York: Viking, 1979) ("It's not peace at any price, it's peace for each at his price. White liberalism will sacrifice the long odds on attaining social justice and settle for letting blacks into the exploiting class. The 'enlightened' government crowd will sacrifice the long odds on maintaining complete white supremacy and settle for propping up a black middle class whose class interests run counter to a black revolution." Id. at 156.).
Nadine Gordimer, The House Gun (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998) ("When she had gone Harald sat on in Motsamai's chambers, looking around the shelves of law books with their paper slips marking relevant pages that might decide--not justice--he was not able to think of justice as he used to--but a way out. The law is a paper-chase whose subsidiary clauses might lead through the forest. . . ." Id. at 58. "The Lindgards were not racists, if racist means having revulsion against skin of a different colour, believing or wanting to believe that anyone who is not your own colour or religion or nationality is intellectually and morally inferior. Claudia surely had her proof that flesh, blood and suffering are the same, under any skin. Harald surely had his proof in his faith that all humans are God's creatures, in Christ's image, none above the other. Yet neither had joined movements, protested, marched in open display, spoken out in defence of these convictions. They thought themselves as simply not that kind of person; as if it were a matter of immutable determination, such as one's blood group, and not failed courage. He did not risk his position in the corporate establishment. Claudia worked at clinics to staunch the wounds racism gashed; she did not risk her own skin by contact, outside the intimate professional one, with the black men and women she treated, neither by offering asylum when she had deduced they were activists on the run from the police, nor by acting as the kind of conduit between revolutionaries her to-and-fro in communities would have made possible. What these people called the struggle--she recognized its necessity, their courage, when she read reports of their actions, in the newspapers; kept away from them outside clinic and surgery hours. Stuck to their own struggle, with disease, and the damage other people caused: yet other people, who tear-gassed and set dogs upon blacks, evicted them from their homes to live in shacks from which old men and women were brought to her dying of pneumonia and children were brought to her dwarfed by malnutrition. She had kept clear of those others, too." Id. at 86-87.).
Nadine Gordimer, July's People: A Novel (New York: Viking, 1981).
Nadine Gordimer, My Son's Story; A Novel (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1990) ("I need air. Again the polished corridors, the company of policemen watching sullenly, the bodies of strangers shifted up for along the boney benches of the public gallery, the eagerness with which we follow the expressions of the lawyers, try to penetrate the distancing that the judge, somewhere a man inside his red robes, keeps between himself and all he sees and hears. People downcast by trouble under the lofty spaces--how many times have I gazed up to the fans in the ceiling, stirring the trouble round and round where no pollen scatters renewal. Staleness. All my life, since we left our home outside the mining town, I've been breathing the dead breath of these places where life and freedom are supposed to be protected by the law." Id. at 245-246.).
Nadine Gordimer, None to Accompany Me (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994) ("Zeph Rapulana dines on board the Drommedaris now." "He has moved more or less permanently from Odenville, where he built a home for his family in the temporary settlement area secured, and, leaving the backyard cottage, has taken a house in a modestly afluent suburb vacated by a white couple who have left in the latest count of emigration to America or Australia. What has been abolished along the with the laws of segregation is the law and custom, more deeply entrenched than any law, that only white people could live in these pleasant areas. Anyone who can afford to pay the rent or buy the property may do so now. Many whites who want to see racial prejudice abolished and have applauded its passing nevertheless comment highmindedly whenever a black man or woman is successful enough in their--the whites'--world of professions, finance and business to move into one of the formerly white compounds. There are so many blacks living in degrading poverty, how can a black man live it up with a tree-filled garden, lock-up garage for his car, and neighbourhood security watch? For one to want justice for black people, they must all qualify by being poor. He ought to be living a dozen to a shack without light amid shit running from broken drains. He ought to be standing before a farmer's door shut in his face, saying without menace, non-violently, we won't harm you. Not you or your wife and children. Never. Whatever you do to us. Never. And we'll never penetrate your boardrooms, we'll never enter and take the place behind the desk in the chairman's office, don the robes of the judge, fit the uniform of the commander-in-chief." Id. at 257-258. From the bookjacket: "In an extraordinary period immediately before the first non-racial election and the beginning of majority rule in South Africa, Vera Stark the protagonist of Nadine Gordimer's passionate . . . novel, weaves a ruthless interpretation of her own past into her participation in the present as a lawyer representing blacks in the struggle to reclaim the land. The return of exiles is transforming the city and though the lives of Dudymus Maqoma, his wife Sibingile, and their lovely daughter who cannot even speak her parents' African language, the reader experiences the strange passions reversals, and dangers that accompany new-won access to power.").
Nadine Gordimer, A Sport of Nature (London: Jonathan Cape, 1987).