Vocabulary from the Wisdom and Work of Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014)

July 14, 2014
Nadine Gordimer died on July 13, 2014 at the age of 90. A novelist and activist, Gordimer wrote powerfully about South Africa during Apartheid and after, about what had changed, and what still had yet to change. In books such as Burger's Daughter, July's People, and The Conservationist, she painted portraits of characters who transcended the simple characterization of good or evil. Hers were visions of complex human beings caught up in the mechanism of society. For her achievements she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.

As can be seen from these 15 quotes below, Gordimer was a voice like no other, slaughtering sacred cows left and right and capable of crafting a written sentence or an interview sound bite that makes you rethink your entire perspective on an issue.
The gap between the committed and the indifferent is a Sahara whose faint trails, followed by the mind's eye only, fade out in sand.
β€œArt is so wonderfully irrational, exuberantly pointless, but necessary all the same. Pointless and yet necessary, that's hard for a puritan to understand.”
If people would forget about utopia! When rationalism destroyed heaven and decided to set it up here on earth, that most terrible of all goals entered human ambition. It was clear there'd be no end to what people would be made to suffer for it.
Art is on the side of the oppressed. Think before you shudder at the simplistic dictum and its heretical definition of the freedom of art. For if art is freedom of the spirit, how can it exist within the oppressors?
The country of the tourist pamphlet always is another country, an embarrassing abstraction of the desirable that, thank God, does not exist on this planet, where there are always ants and bad smells and empty Coca-Cola bottles to keep the grubby finger-print of reality upon the beautiful.
There are many proven explanations for natural phenomena now; and there are new questions of being arising out of some of the answers. For this reason, the genre of myth has never been entirely abandoned, although we are inclined to think of it as archaic.
It is in this sense, this inextricable, ineffable participation, that writing is always and at once an exploration of self and of the world; of individual and collective being.
It is in this sense, this inextricable, ineffable participation, that writing is always and at once an exploration of self and of the world; of individual and collective being.
Any writer of any worth at all hopes to play only a pocket-torch of light β€” and rarely, through genius, a sudden flambeau β€” into the bloody yet beautiful labyrinth of human experience, of being.
Sincerity is never having an idea of oneself.
...with an understanding of Shakespeare there comes a release from the gullibility that makes you prey to the great shopkeeper who runs the world, and would sell you cheap to illusion.
At four in the afternoon the old moon bleeds radiance into the grey sky.
If I dreamt this, while walking, walking in the London streets, the subconscious of each and every other life, past and present, brushing me in passing, what makes it real? Writing it down.
...nature doesn't acknowledge frontiers. Neither can ecology... Where to begin to understand what we've only got a computerspeak label for, ecosystem? Where to decide it begins.
If you live in Europe ... things change ... but continuity never seems to break. You don't have to throw the past away.

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Thursday July 17th 2014, 3:36 AM
Comment by: SEirene (United Kingdom)
Nice list. The quotes are engaging.
I'm not sure I agree with one of the definitions:
an attractive combination of good health and happiness

The answer in the practice test was different to this definition and I agree with that rather than this.

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