A Sport of Nature (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
In the first paragraph of A Sport of Nature, the novel’s protagonist changes her name from Kim to Hillela, thus making the first of many alterations in her identity and character. In the chapters that follow, she grows from schoolgirl to woman, from apolitical observer to activist, from passive mistress to active wife and a considerable behind-the-scenes power in her own right. She is thus at once a particular woman and an embodiment of the liberation movement. As a woman she is an outsider, the more so being half Jewish. Because her mother has run off with another man and her father is a traveling salesman, she is reared by her aunts: Olga, the rich socialite, and Pauline, the political activist. Gordimer has thus made her heroine a stranger in a strange land.
Beautiful, sexually gifted, self-sufficient, Hillela is a modern Moll Flanders, a picara making her way through every level of society without becoming attached to any class. Unlike the typical picaresque heroine, however, she is strangely passive and lacking in energy. She drifts from place to place and man to man, living with equal unconcern in an ambassador’s mansion or a revolutionary’s hovel. She makes her living in every way possible: encyclopedia saleswoman, receptionist, retail clerk, model, nanny, go-go dancer, revolutionary, lecturer, mistress, wife. These occupations and...
(The entire section is 1750 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
London Review of Books. IX, April 23, 1987, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. April 19, 1987, p. 2.
Ms. XV, June, 1987, p. 16.
The New Republic. CXCVI, May 18, 1987, p. 33.
The New York Review of Books. XXXIV, July 16, 1987, p. 8.
The New York Times Book Review. XCII, May 3, 1987, p. 1.
The New Yorker. LXIII, June 29, 1987, p. 87.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXI, March 6, 1987, p. 101.
Time. CXXIX, April 6, 1987, p. 76.
The Washington Post Book World. XVII, May 3, 1987, p. 3.
(The entire section is 65 words.)