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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

Nadine Gordimer -- Fiction
Nadine Gordimer

Host(s): Stan Sanvel Rubin, Judith Kitchen, and Peter Marchant

Tape order number: V-291

Visit Date: January 24, 1986

Length: 46 minutes

Published as:

  • "A Voice from a Troubled Land: A Conversation with Nadine Gordimer." Earl Ingersoll and Stan Sanvel Rubin, eds. Ontario Review 26 (1987): 5-14.
  • "A Voice from a Troubled Land: A Conversation with Nadine Gordimer." Earl Ingersoll and Stan Sanvel Rubin, eds. Conversations with Nadine Gordimer. Nancy Topping Bazin and Marilyn Dallman Seymour, Eds. Jackson: U P of Mississippi, 1990. 253-63.
  • "Interviews with Nadine Gordimer." Earl G. Ingersoll and Stan Sanvel Rubin, eds. Contemporary Literary Criticism Yearbook. Vol. 70. Detroit: Gale, 1992. 181-84.

Brief Summary: Gordimer calls herself a "natural writer" and speaks about the influence that growing up in a South African mining town had on her writing. She responds to questions about voice, rhythm, audience, narrative techniques, and her composition process for the short story and the novel. Gordimer says that the short story taught her how important "getting to the essence of things" is to her writing. She also considers the effect of gender on her writing. "The language of politics vs. the language of art" is discussed as the distinction between nonfiction and fiction. The theme of betrayal in her latest collection is examined, as well as the political efficacy of literature to affect change in human rights' issues, including Apartheid. Gordimer calls her essays "the one thing I can do for my nation."

Work(s) Discussed:

  • "A Soldier's Embrace"
  • "Lion on the Freeway"
  • "July's People"
  • "Something Out There"
  • "Sins of a Third Age"
  • "Siblings"
  • "The Kindest Thing To Do"
  • "The Conservationist"

Work(s) Read:

  • "Lion on the Freeway"

Writers mentioned:

  • Chekov
  • Eudora Welty
  • Hemingway
  • Chaucer
  • Falubert
  • Joyce
  • Proust
  • Thomas Mann
  • Kafka

I don't believe that to understand is to forgive all... I think it's a very dangerous attitude. For a writer, it's absolutely essential to understand all and once you understand all you cannot be entirely unsympathetic to your character. The monster's always there inside, in all of us.

-- Nadine Gordimer

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