Nadine Gordimer grew up a rebel. Both parents were immigrants to South Africa; her mother was English, her father an Eastern European Jew. In Springs, the gold-mining town near Johannesburg where she spent her early years, Gordimer frequently played hooky from her convent school. When she did attend, she would sometimes walk out. She found it difficult to tolerate all the pressures for conformity.
In the middle-class environment in which Gordimer grew up, a girl could aspire only to marry and rear a family. After leaving school and then working at a clerical job for a few years, she would be singled out as a prospective wife by a young man who had come from a family very much like her own, and from there, within months she would actualize the greatest dreams of young womanhood: She would have her engagement party, her linen shower, and her wedding ceremony, and she would bear her first child. None of these dreams would be served by a girl’s education; books, in perhaps leading her mind astray, would interfere with the years of her preparation for the mold.
At an early age, however, Gordimer did not fit the mold—she was an avid reader. By nine, she was already writing, and at fourteen she won a writing prize. Her favorite authors were Anton Chekhov, W. Somerset Maugham, Guy de Maupassant, D. H. Lawrence, and the Americans Katherine Anne Porter, O. Henry, and Eudora Welty. As she became a young woman, she became increasingly interested in politics and the plight of...
(The entire section is 610 words.)
Nadine Gordimer spent her childhood in a gold-mining town near Johannesburg, South Africa. Her father, Isidore Gordimer, was a watchmaker, a Jew who had immigrated from a Baltic town to Africa when he was thirteen; her mother was born in England. In writing about her childhood, Gordimer has referred to herself as a “bolter.” She did not care for the convent school to which she was sent as a day student, and she frequently played hooky. When she did attend, she would sometimes walk out. The pressures of uniformity produced revulsion and rebellion in young Nadine. At eleven, Gordimer was kept home from school by her mother on the pretense of a heart ailment, and she received no formal schooling for about a year; for the next...
(The entire section is 789 words.)
Nadine Gordimer (GAWR-duh-mur) was born in Springs, a small gold mining town in South Africa, on November 20, 1923. Her maternal grandfather emigrated from Europe to South Africa in the 1890’s in order to prospect for diamonds. Her Lithuanian-born Jewish father, who was also a part of the white colonial expansion in the early 1900’s, started out as a watch repairer for mine workers and eventually owned a jeweler’s shop. The circumstances of Gordimer’s white middle-class upbringing provoked her understanding of the racial stratification in South African society.
One of two daughters, Gordimer had little formal education. As a very young girl, she took great pleasure in dancing until the age of ten, when she had...
(The entire section is 1126 words.)
In illuminating the horror and devastation of South African politics, Nadine Gordimer’s writings are brilliant expositions of the way that human lives endure in the face of adversity. Her writing about post-apartheid South Africa continues to deal with both the personal and the political as she treats topics relevant to a country struggling to make itself anew. As Stephen Clingman writes in his introduction to a collection of her essays, Gordimer is the interpreter par excellence of her country. Significantly, Gordimer has lived in South Africa all of her life and has accumulated a lifetime of observations and experiences that help her literature present life under apartheid and after it has been replaced with majority rule. For a writer whose work is filled with political situations, Gordimer strives to represent as fully, honestly, and intelligently as possible the entire spectrum of experiences.
Nadine Gordimer (GAWR-duh-mur) established herself early in her career as a talented author of both short stories and novels that sensitively and subtly portray the complexities of life for blacks and whites in South Africa. Born to Isidore Gordimer, a jeweler, and Nan Myers Gordimer, Nadine had a comfortable childhood. She was educated in private schools, and she attended the University of Witwatersrand for one year. She married Gerald Gavron in 1949 and gave birth to a daughter, Oriane; the couple divorced in 1952. In 1954, Gordimer married Reinhold Cassirer, and together they had a son, Hugo.
Although Gordimer was initially recognized as a first-rate author of short stories, she has since become an important...
(The entire section is 907 words.)