Nadine Gordimer

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Nadine Gordimer (2010)

Nadine Gordimer (born November 20, 1923 in Springs , Transvaal , today Gauteng , † July 13, 2014 in Johannesburg ) was a South African writer . Her novels , stories and essays deal primarily with the South African apartheid policy and its destructive consequences for both black and white people. In 1974 Gordimer received the Booker Prize , and in 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature .


Family and early years

Her father was a Jewish jeweler who emigrated from Lithuania at the age of thirteen ; her mother was English . Gordimer grew up in her native town of Springs, east of Johannesburg , one of the places along the Witwatersrand ridge that was created by gold mining at the end of the 19th century . She was raised in a non-Jewish way and went to a paid convent school . She spent her childhood and youth in the sheltered environment of the white South African minority. Because of a supposed heart failure, she was tutored by her mother at home for years . Her relative isolation gave her an opportunity to read a lot.

She started writing at the age of nine, and when she was 15 her first short story (Come Again Tomorrow) appeared on the children's pages of the Johannesburg magazine Forum. From 1948 she lived in Johannesburg, where in 1949 her first collection of short stories Face to Face was published. With The Lying Days , she published her first novel in 1953. In 1951 the New Yorker first brought a story, and many more followed. In 1949 she married the dentist Gerald Gavron, from whom she divorced in 1952. In 1950 their daughter Oriane was born. From 1954 she was married to the gallery owner Reinhold Cassirer from Berlin, the nephew of the philosopher Ernst Cassirer ; he died in Johannesburg in 2001. Together with Reinhold Cassirer, she had a son, the filmmaker Hugo Cassirer.


To study she enrolled at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg , which she left after only one year without a degree. She traveled extensively in Africa, Europe and the USA, where she also taught several times at universities in the 1960s and 1970s.

Resistance to apartheid

For almost her entire life, Gordimer lived and wrote in a South Africa divided by apartheid. In the 1950s she belonged to a small group that deliberately disregarded the apartheid laws of the time in order to undermine them. Gordimer's consistent advocacy of the right to freedom of expression brought her multiple publication bans in her home country.

In the 1960s, the black resistance movement became more radical in its methods. B. industrial sabotage, as described by Gordimer in her novel The Late Bourgeois World (1966), and often no longer relied on the support of liberal whites. B. the Pan Africanist Congress founded in 1959 . As a result, Gordimer felt twice as marginalized: by the whites because of the apartheid regime, by the blacks because of the color of their skin .

In the late 1980s there was again closer cooperation between blacks and whites in the resistance. Gordimer took a more prominent position in the movement and used her fame as a writer to publicly support political and cultural groups; she also helped these movements financially. She also fought against the South African censorship law .

In interviews she affirmed that it was not her intention as a propagandist to convince others of her political ideals. Instead, she wants to present reality in an honest way and shed light on hidden aspects. She was particularly interested in the psychological and social aspects of conflict situations, e.g. B. in Die Hauswaffe (1998). The novel is set in the "new" post-apartheid South Africa, which is still torn by violence, and describes the emotional confusion of a couple whose son is accused of murder.

Apartheid in their literary work

In her work she shows that apartheid is not static, but something that is constantly evolving. The reality in her work is never black and white, but interspersed with many shades of gray. In studying Gordimer's oeuvre it is easy to understand how her ideas and ethnic consciousness develop. In 1991 she received the Nobel Prize in Literature for the open and ironic way she describes social injustice. Her work has been translated into over 30 languages.


Honorary doctorates



  • 1953: The Lying Days. German as: Entzauberung. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1956.
  • 1958: A World of Strangers. German as: Stranger among strangers. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1962.
  • 1963: Occasion for Loving. German as: an occasion to love. S. Fischer / Goverts, Frankfurt am Main 1983, ISBN 3-10-027007-X .
  • 1966: The Late Bourgeois World. German as: The late bourgeois world. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-10-027016-9 .
  • 1970: A Guest of Honor. German as: The Guest of Honor. S. Fischer / Goverts, Frankfurt am Main 1986, ISBN 3-10-027009-6 .
  • 1974: The Conservationist. German as: The owner. Claassen, Düsseldorf 1977, ISBN 3-546-43342-4 .
  • 1979: Burger's Daughter. German as: Burger's daughter. Goverts, Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-10-027004-5 .
  • 1981: July's People. German as: July's people. Translator Margaret Carroux . S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1982, ISBN 3-10-027005-3 .
  • 1987: Sport of Nature. German as: A game of nature. S. Fischer / Goverts, Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-10-027011-8 .
  • 1990: My Son's Story. German as: The story of my son. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-10-027015-0 .
  • 1994: None to Accompany Me. German as: Nobody who goes with me. Berlin-Verlag, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-8270-0001-7 .
  • 1998: The House Gun. German as: Die Hauswaffe. Berlin-Verlag, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-8270-0003-3 .
  • 2001: The Pickup. German as: A man from the street. Berlin-Verlag, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-8270-0005-X .
  • 2005: Get a Life. German as: Start to live. Berlin-Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 978-3-8270-0007-1 .
  • 2012: No Time Like the Present. German as: No time like this. Berlin, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-8270-1103-9 .

Volumes of short stories, short stories

  • 1949: Face to Face
  • 1952: The Soft Voice of the Serpent. German as: The gentle voice of the snake. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-10-027017-7 .
  • 1956: Six Feet of the Country. German as: Six feet earth. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1956; 1982 without the cover story as Clowns im Glück. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 3-596-25722-0 .
  • 1965: Not for Publication. German as: Not for publication. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1997, ISBN 3-10-027022-3 .
  • 1965: Good Climate, Friendly Inhabitants. German as: Good climate, nice neighbors. (Seven stories) S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1982, ISBN 3-10-027006-1 .
  • 1960: Fryday's Footprint. German as: Friday's footprint. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-10-027018-5 .
  • 1971: Livingstone's Companions. German as: Livingstone's companions. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-10-027026-6 .
  • 1975: Selected Stories
  • 1978: No Place Like: Selected Stories
  • 1980: A Soldier's Embrace. German as: The hug of a soldier. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3-10-027014-2 .
  • 1980: Town and Country Lovers "One" and "Two". German as: lovers in town and country I and II.
  • 1980: Oral History. German as: Oral messages.
  • 1984: Something Out There. German as: A city of the dead, a city of the living. (A novella and ten stories) S. Fischer / Goverts, Frankfurt am Main 1985, ISBN 3-10-027008-8 ; 1989 as something out there. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 3-10-027013-4 .
  • 1991: Jump. German as: The final safari. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-10-027023-1 .
  • 1992: Why Haven't You Written ?: Selected Stories, 1950–1972.
  • 2003: Loot. German as: booty and other stories. Berlin-Verlag, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-8270-0006-8 .
  • 2007: Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black. German as: Beethoven was a sixteenth black. Berlin-Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-8270-0803-9 .
  • 2010: Life Times - Stories 1952–2007.
  • 2013: Experienced times, stories 1952–2007. Translated by Inken Bohn. Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-8270-1177-0 (in a slipcase, see below)
  • 2013: Moving Times, Life and Writing 1954–2008. Translated by Susanne Höbel, Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-8270-1177-0 (in a slipcase).

Essays and biographies

  • 1973: The Black Interpreters . Ravan Press, Johannesburg
  • 1987: Living in the Interregnum. (Essays on politics and literature) S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 3-10-027010-X .
  • 1988: The Essential Gesture . Taurus, Johannesburg
  • 1995: Writing and Being. German as: writing and being. Berlin-Verlag, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-8270-0002-5 .
  • 1999: Living in Hope and History. German as: Between Hope and History. Berlin-Verlag, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-8270-0004-1 .


Film adaptations

  • 1962: Dilemma - directed by Henning Carlsen - based on the novel Stranger Among Strangers
  • 1981: Six Feet of the Country - TV series, South Africa / Switzerland / Federal Republic of Germany / Netherlands, seven episodes


  • Dorothy Driver (Ed.): Nadine Gordimer: a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, 1937-1992. London / Munich 1994 (Bibliographical research in African literatures, 4, ISBN 1-873836-26-0 ).
  • Stephen Clingman: The Novels of Nadine Gordimer. 1986.
  • Rowland Smith (Ed.): Critical Essays on Nadine Gordimer. 1990.
  • Dominic Head: Nadine Gordimer. 1994.
  • Kathrin Wagner: Rereading Nadine Gordimer. 1994.
  • Christiane Korff: Writing to create yourself. In Charlotte Kerner (ed.): Madame Curie and her sisters - women who received the Nobel Prize. Beltz, Weinheim / Basel 1997, ISBN 3-407-80845-3 .
  • Nadine Gordimer. In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Hrsg.): Kindlers Literatur Lexikon . 3rd, completely revised edition. 18 volumes. Volume 12, Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2009, ISBN 978-3-476-04000-8 , pp. 438-447. [Biogram, article on My Son's Story by Geoffrey V. Davis]

Web links

Commons : Nadine Gordimer  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ SA novelist Nadine Gordimer dies. In:, July 14, 2014, accessed July 14, 2014 .
  2. ^ A b Harris M. Lentz III: Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2014. McFarland, 2015; P. 138. ( Google Books ).
  3. ^ Hans-Peter Kunisch : Nadine Gordimer: Always South Africa. Die Zeit , July 14, 2014, accessed on November 21, 2015 .
  4. Robert von Lucius : She was the chronicler of the upheaval in South Africa. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , July 14, 2014, accessed on November 21, 2015 .
  5. List of recipients of the order 1999 (English), accessed on August 25, 2018
  6. Member History: Nadine Gordimer. American Philosophical Society, accessed August 25, 2018 .
  7. Mercury crater Gordimer in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature of the IAU (WGPSN) / USGS (English)
  8. Nadine Gordimer at Who's Who South Africa ( Memento from July 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (English)