Dry Eyes

John Bayley

  • Jump and Other Stories by Nadine Gordimer
    Bloomsbury, 257 pp, £13.99, October 1991, ISBN 0 7475 1020 2
  • Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood
    Bloomsbury, 247 pp, £14.99, September 1991, ISBN 0 7475 1019 9

A Jane Austen of today is barely imaginable: but it one nonetheless imagines her, and locates her in South Africa, how would she be exercising her art? Could she find any subject other than the one Nadine Gordimer writes about? A great, even a good writer does not find his subject, it takes him over: he becomes it, and the world it has brought with it. But there exist situations in which this is necessarily not the case. Not only the subject but the way to treat it is handed to the talented South African writer in the most unambiguous terms. His success must be measured, not in terms of the world he has made by his art, but by what his art reveals of a particular world.

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