Nadine Gordimer - Occasion for loving

 

 

From Zulu and Xhosa to Tswana and Pedi, South Africa has a vast array of languages and ethnic groups. No wonder the literature it has produced over the decades has been so diverse. The effects of life under and after apartheid, is something deeply ingrained in the country’s history. Many South African authors have made this a key theme in their novels. J.M Coetzee is a Nobel Prize winning South African author and literary critic. He also has the prestigious Commonwealth Writer’s prize and two Booker prizes under his belt. His immensely popular novels engage with themes ranging from power, race, gender and even animal welfare. This week’s main feature will be South African writer Nadine Gordimer and her 1963 novel Occasion for Loving. Nadine is a prominent female author, who in 1991, won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Nadine’s work primarily deals with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa.

 

Occasion for Loving is a tale charting a forbidden romance under apartheid South Africa - a time when such relationships were banned and severely punishable. Tom and Jessie Stilwell are a liberal couple determined to live their lives in a divided nation. New arrival Ann Davis is a confident young woman from England, who marries South African composer Boaz. However, Ann is in search of an “African adventure”. She dangerously crosses the boundaries of repressive South African social convention when she falls in love with the black artist Gideon Shibalo. Ann is at first oblivious to people’s prejudices and does not feel restricted by the harsh laws against cross-racial relationships. The relationship they share is much deeper than physical; the two share an intellectual intimacy that is endearing to witness. However, the couple eventually encounter the kind of damaging and negative attitudes towards cross-racial relationships that apartheid typically produces. As the novel moves towards its conclusion, we see how the relationship is inevitably fated to fail.  The reader is posed with the questions: What is Gordimer saying about the constraints of apartheid? Were they simply too powerful to overcome? Gordimer’s novel is a fascinating insight into a country torn apart by apartheid, and an era where love was limited by cruel laws. 

 

 

Article contributed by:

Ama Uzowuru

"There is more than a single story to be told about Africa. Africa is on the rise & I'll be blogging about this through a medley of themes."


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