Born to Isidoreand Nan Gordimer. Her dad was an immigrant Jewish watchmaker from Lithuania and her mother was from England. Nan died in 1976. Nadine was privately schooled for a large portion of her childhood as she was believed to have a heart ailment.
She attended the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1945. She only completed a year of formal education here. Among honorary degrees: from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, New School for Social Research, USA; University of Leuven, Belgium, University of York (England), Universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand (South Africa), Cambridge University (England).
Married Gerald Gavron in 1949 they divorced in 1952. During their brief marriage they had one child, a daughter named OrianneTaramasco.Two years later she married Reinhold Cassirer and they had one son named Hugo. a German Jewish refugee from the Nazi regime who had a distinguished career with British Intelligence during World War II and later became an art dealer. Their son, Hugo, was born in 1955. Since her marriage (which lasted until Cassirer's death in 2001) Gordimer has lived in Johannesburg, with extended travels abroad in many countries
Apartheid (Afrikaans pronunciation: [ɐˈpɐrtɦəit], separateness) was a system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government in South Africa between 1948 and 1994, under which the rights of the majority 'non-white' inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and minority rule by white people was maintained.Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, Act No 55 of 1949Prohibited marriages between white people and people of other races. Between 1946 and the enactment of this law, only 75 mixed marriages had been recorded, compared with some 28,000 white marriages. Immorality Amendment Act, Act No 21 of 1950; amended in 1957 (Act 23)Prohibited adultery, attempted adultery or related immoral acts (extra-marital sex) between white and black people. Population Registration Act, Act No 30 of 1950Led to the creation of a national register in which every person's race was recorded. A Race Classification Board took the final decision on what a person's race was in disputed cases. Group Areas Act, Act No 41 of 1950Forced physical separation between races by creating different residential areas for different races. Led to forced removals of people living in "wrong" areas, for example Coloureds living in District Six in Cape Town. Suppression of Communism Act, Act No 44 of 1950Outlawed communism and the Community Party in South Africa. Communism was defined so broadly that it covered any call for radical change. Communists could be banned from participating in a political organisation and restricted to a particular area. Bantu Building Workers Act, Act No 27 of 1951Allowed black people to be trained as artisans in the building trade, something previously reserved for whites only, but they had to work within an area designated for blacks. Made it a criminal offence for a black person to perform any skilled work in urban areas except in those sections designated for black occupation. Separate Representation of Voters Act, Act No 46 of 1951Together with the 1956 amendment, this act led to the removal of Coloureds from the common voters' roll. Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act, Act No 52 of 1951Gave the Minister of Native Affairs the power to remove blacks from public or privately owned land and to establishment resettlement camps to house these displaced people. Bantu Authorities Act, Act No 68 of 1951Provided for the establishment of black homelands and regional authorities and, with the aim of creating greater self-government in the homelands, abolished the Native Representative Council. Natives Laws Amendment Act of 1952Narrowed the definition of the category of blacks who had the right of permanent residence in towns. Section 10 limited this to those who'd been born in a town and had lived there continuously for not less than 15 years, or who had been employed there continuously for at least 15 years, or who had worked continuously for the same employer for at least 10 years. Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times, however, apartheid as an official policy was introduced following the general election of 1948. New legislation classified inhabitants into racial groups ("black", "white", "coloured", and "Indian"), and residential areas were segregated, sometimes by means of forced removals. From 1958, black people were deprived of their citizenship, legally becoming citizens of one of ten tribally based self-governing homelands called bantustans, four of which became nominally independent states. The government segregated education, medical care, and other public services, and provided black people with services inferior to those of white people.Apartheid sparked significant internal resistance and violence as well as a long trade embargo against South Africa. Since the 1980s, a series of popular uprisings and protests were met with the banning of opposition and imprisoning of anti-apartheid leaders. As unrest spread and became more violent, state organizations responded with increasing repression and state-sponsored violence.Reforms to apartheid in the 1980s failed to quell the mounting opposition, and in 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid, culminating in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, which were won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela. The vestiges of apartheid still shape South African politics and society.Nadine Gordimer was an anti-apartheid activist who often took part in demonstrations and speeches. Her writing was her way of acting out against the government. Apartheid entered her life at an early age when she witnessed a police raid of a servant’s room in her house. She even testified in Nelson Mandela’s trial and helped to save his life. When he was released he asked to see her first.
Her first short story for children was published when she was 13. Her next story was published 3 years later. Many of her early short stories deal with white overlords and black subjects, as she grew up witnessing Apartheid in S.A. Her first published volume appeared in 1949, the short-story collection Face to Face. The Lying Days, published in 1953, is about waking up from the naivete of a small colonial town. She has written 14 novels and 11 short story collections. She bases her writings mostly on what she viewed growing up in Apartheid South Africa. Her work was for black empowerment and told their stories in a time when they couldn’t tell them themselves. “Jump and Other Stories” published in 1991 right before the end of Apartheid, is the book in which “What were you dreaming” comes from. This is a great example of how Gordimer writes for black empowerment as the entire story is from the point of view of a black man and describes how he is treated under this law.
Letter to NadineDear Miss Gordimer,Ninety years ago, the prize citation mentioned "the qualities of both heart and intellect". Indeed, these words apply no less today when the Swedish Academy points to the Nobelian concept of outstanding literary achievement as an important means of conferring benefit on mankind, in terms of human value and freedom of speech. It is my privilege and pleasure, on behalf of the Swedish Academy, to convey to you the warmest congratulations on the Nobel Prize in Literature 1991 and to invite you to receive the Prize from the hands of His Majesty the King.In her Nobel Lecture Gordimer says “The writer is of service to humankind only insofar as the writer uses the word even against his or her own loyalties, trusts the state of being, as it is revealed, to hold somewhere in its complexity filaments of the cord of truth, able to be bound together, here and there, in art: trusts the state of being to yield somewhere fragmentary phrases of truth, which is the final word of words, never changed by our stumbling efforts to spell it out and write it down, never changed by lies, by semantic sophistry, by the dirtying of the word for the purposes of racism, sexism, prejudice, domination, the glorification of destruction, the curses and the praise-songs.”
blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/ulfanGett460.jpghttp:// Born November 20, 1923 in Springs, Transvaal, South Africa
http://www.studentlynk.com/university/533/University-of-Witwatersrand The University of Witwatersrand
•Face to Face: Short Stories(1949)•The Lying Days (1953)•A World of Strangers (1958)•Guest of Honour (1970)•Burger’s Daughter (1979)•My Son’s Story (1990)•Jump and Other Stories (1991)•Get a Life (2005) http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0140165 347.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg
W. H. Smith & Son Literary Award, 1961, for short story collectionFridays Footprint and Other Stories; Thomas Pringle Award, EnglishAcademy of South Africa, 1969; James Tait Black Memorial Prize,1973, for A Guest of Honour; Booker Prize for Fiction, National BookLeague, 1974, for The Conservationist; Grand Aigle d Or, 1975; CNAawards, 1974, 1979, 1981, and 1991; Neil Gunn fellowship, ScottishArts Council, 1981; Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Servicein Literature, 1981; Modern Language Association of America award,1982; Nelly Sachs Prize, 1985; Premio Malaparte, 1986; BennettAward, HudsonReview, 1986; Benson Medal, 1990; Commander delOrdre des Arts et des Lettres (France), 1991; Nobel Prize forliterature, Nobel Foundation, 1991. D.Litt., University of Leuven,1980, Smith College, City College of the City University of New York,and Mount Holyoke College, all 1985, and honorary degrees fromHarvard University and Yale University, both 1987, and New Schoolfor Social Research, 1988.
After reading “What Were You Dreaming?” do you think it is relevant for an author to be faulted for including their political views into their work? Why do you think Gordimer’s work is as revered as it is? What did her writing do for the people of South Africa? Do you think her lack of a formal education effects her writing? Why or why not?
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