Telling Times: Writing and Living, 1950-2008

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A&C Black, Apr 18, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 752 pages
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Never before has Gordimer, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, published such a comprehensive collection of her nonfiction. Telling Tales represents the full span of her works in that field-from the twilight of white rule in South Africa to the fight to overthrow the apartheid regime, and most recently, her role over the past seven years in confronting the contemporary phenomena of violence and the dangers of HIV. The range of this book is staggering, and the work in totality celebrates the lively perseverance of the life-loving individual in the face of political tumult, then the onslaught of a globalized world. The abiding passionate spirit that informs "A South African Childhood," a youthful autobiographical piece published in The New Yorker in 1954, can be found in each of the book's ninety-one pieces that span a period of fifty-five years. Returning to a lifetime of nonfiction work has become an extraordinary experience for Gordimer. She takes from one of her revered great writers, Albert Camus, the conviction that the writer is a "responsible human being" attuned not alone to dedication to the creation of fiction but to the political vortex that inevitably encompasses twentieth- and twenty-first-century life. Born in 1923, Gordimer, who as a child was ambitious to become a ballet dancer, was recognized at fifteen as a writing prodigy. Her sensibility was as much shaped by wide reading as it was to eye-opening sight, passing on her way to school the grim labor compounds where black gold miners lived. These twin decisives-literature and politics-infuse the book, which includes historic accounts of the political atmosphere, firsthand, after the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 and the Soweto uprising of 1976, as well as incisive close-up portraits of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, among others. Gordimer revisits the eternally relevant legacies of Tolstoy, Proust, and Flaubert, and engages vigorously with contemporaries like Susan Sontag, Octavio Paz, and Edward Said. But some of her most sensuous writing comes in her travelogues, where the politics of Africa blend seamlessly with its awe-inspiring nature-including spectacular recollections of childhood holidays beside South Africa's coast of the Indian Ocean and a riveting account of her journey the length of the Congo River in the wake of Conrad. Gordimer's body of work is an extraordinary vision of the world that harks back to the sensibilities-political, moral, and social-of Dickens and Tolstoy, but with a decidedly vivid contemporary consciousness. Telling Times becomes both a literary exploration and extraordinary document of social and political history in our times.
 

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Contents

The 19601960s
73
Party of One 1963
102
A Bolter and the Invincible Summer 1963
121
Censored Banned Gagged 1963
131
Notes of an Expropriator 1964
137
Simone de Beauvoirs
143
One Man Living Through It 1966
150
Bram Fischer Choose Jail? 1966
157
Censorship and its Aftermath 1990
463
Labyrinth of Empire and Exile 1991
472
African Writers on
485
Mandelas Mettle 1993 Rising to the Ballot 1994 494
494
Letter from South Africa 1995
502
Cannes Epilogue 1995
508
The Poor Are Always with
532
From a Correspondence with Kenzaburo Oe 1998
539

The Short Story in South Africa 1968
173
Madagascar 1969
186
The 19701970s
204
Accra and Abidjan 1971 Pack Up Black Man 1971 Unchaining Poets 1972
227
A Writers Freedom 1976
228
EnglishLanguage Literature and Politics
234
Letter from Soweto 1976
260
What Being a South African Means to
274
A Vision of Two BloodRed Suns 1978
283
Relevance and Commitment 1979
303
Botswana 1979
313
The 19801980s
329
Letter from the 153rd State 1980
335
No Change 1981
347
Alan Patons
357
Wole Soyinkas
368
Living in the Interregnum 1983
374
J M Coetzees
396
Letter from Johannesburg 1985
424
A Sign 1988
433
When Art Meets Politics 1999
548
Personal Proust 2000
577
What News on the Rialto? 2001
584
The Dwelling Place of Words 2001
590
The Entitlement Approach 2001 The Ballad of the Fifth Avenue Hotel 2001 596
596
Joseph Conrad and Almayers Folly 2002
620
A Coincidence of Wills? 2003
627
Fear Eats the Soul 2003
633
Albert Memmi 2003
640
William Plomer and Turbott Wolfe 2003
652
Atlantis 2003
659
Questions Journalists Dont Ask 2003
665
Leo Tolstoy and The Death of Ivan Ilyich 2005
673
Desmond Tutu as I Know Him 2006
695
Faith Reason and War 2006
705
Experiencing Two Absolutes 2008
728
143
736
Source Acknowledgements
741
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About the author (2011)

Nadine Gordimer's many novels include The Conservationist, joint winner of the Booker Prize, Get A Life, Burger's Daughter, July's People, My Son's Story and The Pickup. Her collections of short stories include The Soft Voice of the Serpent, Something Out There, Jump and, most recently, Loot. She also edited the anthology of stories Telling Tales. In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. She lives in South Africa.

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