How Books and Cultural Values Can Make Changes in Humanity

19 July 2014

This week marked the passing of an icon in the fight for freedom and human rights. Nadine Gordimer, the South African writer and political activist who won the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature, made her transition and left behind an amazing legacy to be followed. Her books discussing apartheid, relationships, and making conscious choices, crossed international boundaries and won several prizes for their insightfulness. She even lent her editing skills to legendary freedom fighter and former South African President Nelson Mandela on his speech, "I Am Prepared To Die."


What she represents to worldwide culture


Gordimer's literary works are credited with helping to abolish apartheid system in South Africa. Her tales often spoke out against inequality and explored taboo relationships between blacks and whites. She traveled worldwide promoting freedom and equality as global way of life. Alfred Nobel, the namesake of the Nobel Peace Prize, said Gordimer, "through her magnificent epic writing has been of very great benefit to humanity."


Highlighting her famous books


With the power to vividly capture reality in her books, a few of them were even banned by the government of South Africa. Some of the banned books were The Late Bourgeois World, A World of Strangers, Burger's Daughter and July's People.  In all, she released 15 novels, 21 short fiction collections, a play and many other literary works. One of her most famous titles, The Conservationist, released in 1974, won the Booker Prize.


How her life, example and compositions helped humanity


Not one to sit on the sidelines and just comment on what was happening in her world; she was actively involved in politics. She was a member of the African National Congress at a time when membership in the organization was illegal and considered dangerous. As a teen she experience first-hand the government entering her home and confiscating her work. As she grew in popularity, she began to lecture abroad at different universities in the United States. She continually demanded through her writings and activism all over the globe that South Africa end the oppressive ways of apartheid.


She believed in freedom of information and was against censorship. As a member of South Africa's Anti-Censorship Action Group and several other literary organizations, she believed in encouraging the literary arts.


After apartheid was abolished, she began to speak out about AIDS and the HIV virus in South Africa. Leaning on her literary strengths, she pulled together several writers to contribute short fictional stories to a fundraising book called Telling Tales. The book was used to lobby funds from the government to increase prevention of the disease and assist with the treatment of those who were already afflicted.



Nadine Gordimer is a wonderful example of how books and a person's cultural values can change humanity as a whole. Her life should be celebrated and emulated because everyone deserves peace and harmony. A serious study of her body of work will reveal how creativity should be encouraged and how it can bring about lasting change in the world.


Carlton L. Lewis - the ItalianBookClub


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