Style and Technique

Most of Gordimer’s stories and novels evoke a sense of compassion for the characters, who are enmeshed in circumstances of their own creation. She manages to develop in her readers a genuine sympathy—even an empathy—for them; understanding, forgiveness, identification are her goals rather than condemnation, advocacy, and partisanship. Further, she manages to show the ineffable bond between individuals of different races, social status, and value systems that can be developed and sustained by respect for individuals as such: Almost all of her characters come from divergent backgrounds, yet they somehow manage to find fulfillment in each other. “Town and Country Lovers” shows the gradual growth and maturation of love between couples and suggests that when that love is fulfilled in sexual relations, it is honest and honorable—though it can be destroyed through the interposition of an artificial, arbitrary, and extrinsic morality. Ultimately, this becomes a question of whether persons should be allowed to decide their own course in life or be obliged to accept a dictated one.

At times, the author distances herself somewhat too much from her characters and their situations: This distance is achieved largely through what seems at times reportage, though because both parts of the story involve police and courtroom investigations, the journalistic quality of the written style may be defended as especially appropriate. In part 1, one can imagine that...

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Historical Context

European Immigration to South Africa
In 1652, the Dutch East India Company built a fort in South Africa near the Cape of Good...

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Literary Style

In ‘‘Town and Country Lovers,’’ Gordimer provides details about the South African setting that give the reader...

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Compare and Contrast

1980: In South Africa, black and colored citizens make up 75 percent of the total population. Today: In South Africa, black and...

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Topics for Further Study

Research laws restricting social behavior and civil rights under apartheid and compare them with similar restrictions in the United States...

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What Do I Read Next?

Gordimer won the Booker Prize for The Conservationist (1974). In this novel, a wealthy proapartheid industrialist in South Africa...

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Bibliography and Further Reading

Bazin, Nancy, ‘‘An Interview with Nadine Gordimer,’’ in Contemporary Literature, Vol. 36, No. 4, Winter...

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