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Burger's Daughter [Hardcover]

Nadine Gordimer
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 1980
The titles in the "Textplus" series, designed to reflect the changing nature of English Literature at advanced post-GCSE level, offer the complete text with a specially commissioned introduction and compact background notes placing the work in an historical and critical context. Together, these components are intended to open up the text for students, allowing them to plot their own course of study, to plan extended projects, to compare writers' perspectives on similar themes and to relate works to key social and historical phenomena.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 361 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Press (Nov 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670194751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670194759
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 15.7 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 382,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Rosa Burger grew up in a home under constant surveillance by the South African government. Her parents were detained for their political beliefs; her father died in prison, and her mother, whose health suffered from her time in jail, eventually dies. Rosa, a white South African in her early 20s, is left the only surviving member of her family. Yet even after her parents' deaths, the history of their anti-apartheid beliefs and practices have a daily impact on her life: it seems everyone has expectations of her and the government is still watching.

A quiet, private person, Rosa constantly searches her memories to find herself, to grasp this heritage that weighs her down. Over a period of several years Rosa comes to understand the impact of the South African political climate on her and how she became who she is. The narrative style varies from straightforward storytelling to Rosa's most personal thoughts. In Burger's Daughter, Nobel Prize-winner Nadine Gordimer takes a situation most read about in newspapers and makes it real, creating a memorable story of coming to terms with circumstances over which we have little control, yet which directly affect our lives. --Holly Smith --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Nadine Gordimer is the author of eleven previous novels, as well as collections of stories and essays. She has received many awards, including the Booker Prize (for The Conservationist in 1974) and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars White Liberalism Challenged 3 Jan 2008
While other colonised countries in Africa gained their independence in the 60s, resulting in black rule, the independence of South Africa reinforced the white rule of the settlers, continuing the oppression of the black majority for another three decades. It is not surprising, therefore, that apartheid and the struggles against the regime dominate late 20th century South African literature. One might consider, though, the implications of the fact that the best known writers of the period are not black, but white politically liberal writers.

This is addressed in some way in Nadine Gordimer's Burger's Daughter, where Rosa, the eponymous heroine, attempts to forge her own identity and independence from her father, Lionel Burger, a prominent white anti-apartheid activist who dies in prison. Towards the end of the novel, Baasie, a black childhood friend of Rosa's, who she has not seen for years, rebukes her: "Lionel Burger... Everyone in the world must be told what a great hero he was and how much he suffered for the blacks. Everyone must cry over him... Listen, there are dozens of our fathers sick and dying like dogs, kicked out of the locations when they can't work any more. Getting old and dying in prison. Killed in prison. It's nothing. I know plenty blacks like Burger. It's nothing, it's us, we must be used to it". At another point in the novel, another black character rejects the white liberal struggle against apartheid: "Whites don't credit us with the intelligence to know what we want! We don't need their solutions."

The novel is very firmly placed historically, with references to the Sharpeville and Soweto disturbances and to the key figures in the ANC.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gordimer is brilliant 24 May 2004
By A Customer
Nadine Gordimer is an intense, engaged, writer, and this is a wonderful novel, haunting and mesmeric, beautifully judged in its dealings with emotions and character.
The lead character, Rosa Burger, is the daughter of a famous white anti-apartheid activist who dies in jail. With her mother and brother also dead, Rosa is left alone - although, with a gaggle of other activists and the government trying to keep tabs on her, she is never alone.
The book deals with Rosa's attempts to find her place afte rher father's death, at first fleeing from activism, escaping to Europe, but finally returning an dinevitably adopting the legacy of her father. It is a book about families, about politics, about hope and about South Africa. Intermixed with long sections on South African history, it deals with the possibilities of racial harmony in a subtle, convincing way.
This is one of those books which gets you in its grip and does not let go. Gordimer is a writer of sustained brilliance, and I think this is a masterpiece.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too confusing 21 Mar 2009
By Wilbri
This book, by a wonderful person and marvelous authoress, is one of the few books which I have not been able to finish reading. The protagonist shifts from time to time, sometimes on the same page, without my being able to identify when (or why) the change took place.
While I enjoy being challenged, I feel that the challenge in "Burger's Daughter" detracts from the story and leaves me with the fatigue of a four minute mile after a half speed sprint of 100 metres.
It is unfortunate for me that the style has made continued reading impossible. Nadine Gordimer's sensitivity and understanding of South African society is well presented in the little that I read.
The centrality of the (white) suburban house in social intercourse, the extended Afrikaans-speaking family and its inter-relations are presented very well.
Anyone seeking apartheid-era courtroom and incarceration stories, will find them well told - please note that that comment, is made after just over a quarter of the book `behind me'.
It was with great sadness that, after several months of repeated attempts at reading "Burger's Daughter", I put it aside, `knowing' that there is something in the book for me, but my ability to find it, just was not within me.
I wish other readers greater success.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gordimer never seizes to surprise! 22 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Nadine Gordimer seems to capture the social and political threads that make up South Africa. However, she does it in a brilliant style, ingeniously intertwining personal views. The main character in 'Burger's Daughter' is to me one of Gordimer's finest. This novel is a must!
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finding one's own voice 12 Sep 2000
By EriKa - Published on Amazon.com
I have probably by now read almost everything Gordimer has written in her long and prolific career. I have defended her writing to those who have only dabbled in one or two works and form opinions. Gordimer's works are much more complex than one can dissect in one reading of a particularly book or in a reading of only one of her books.
Burger's Daughter was surprising, as all of Gordimer's works are. Gordimer has mastered the art of voice and gives her characters complex lives and thoughts without resorting to or relying on cliché or expectation. In Burger's Daughter, the protagonist lives a life that was created for her before she was even born. Her father's political activism created circumstances into which she would be born and in which she would be expected to live, much as royalty is born and expected to follow in the monarchy's traditions.
The book traces Burger's daughter through her literal and figurative explorations to find her own voice, which can be the most difficult thing one can do in life, particularly when overshadowed by the voices of everyone around you. This work is quite subtle and although surprising (only because I am always amazed that someone has such talent for breathing life into a page) it is very typical Gordimer. Well worth the time to read it.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A challenging but ultimately rewarding novel 25 April 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Nadine Gordimer's prose can be difficult to follow at the initial read, but is full of thought-provoking allusions and is a book you will definitely think about for a long time. In this tale, Burger represents the man who was Nelson Mandela's lawyer in apartheid South Africa. Gordimer follows Burger's daughter as she copes with ties to her homeland, the complicated issue of white and black in South Africa, and with both the persecution and expectations she faces because of her name. Highly recommended!
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richly rewarding novel by Nobel Prize Winner 11 Aug 2002
By Ronald Scheer - Published on Amazon.com
Until I read this novel, years ago, I had very simplistic views of South Africa. "Burger's Daughter" changed that.
While telling the story of an individual young woman growing up in a well-known activist family and learning to discover her own identity, Gordimer also paints a broad and detailed picture of life in South Africa among those who fought apartheid while Mandela was still in prison.
It is a rich cast of characters, black and white, who find their strength and their joy in their heroic resistance to the government and their civil disobedience. Through them you learn of the complexity of the problems created by apartheid and the range of social issues rooted in a system of racial separatism.
You also learn a great deal about the mindset and courage of those who were free to leave South Africa during those dark days yet chose to stay and fight a well-armed and oppressive foe. And as modern-day South Africa has inherited the legacy of apartheid, the book is as fully relevant today as it was when it was written.
Gordimer packs a lot into this novel; it's not a page turner, but a book that you soak up slowly and deliberately. It is a solid, important book, worthy of a world-class writer and Nobel Prize winner.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not at her best! 5 Oct 2002
By Mila - Published on Amazon.com
Having lived in the Apartheid, Nadine Gordimer knows a big deal about political and historical facts of that period. So don't we. In this book, she uses her knowledge to give us the impression of the power of history, overcoming life of normal people. But neither we leave the book with the feeling of being enriched by a talent psychological insight, nor can we avoid the frustration not to be able to follow her detailed but rambling historical picture.
The main character, Rose, is the daughter of an important anti-apartheid leader. Her childhood, her adolescence and her entire life will turn out to be completely affected by her origins. And that's fine with me, although I don't like the idea we can't change our fate. What I didn't like is that the character Rose's development is dropped little by little through the very long book and mixed up with a quantity of events regarding Apartheid and Rose's father connection with the communist party, which the average reader can't understand. There is no order in their happening and the book is not trying to explain them: they are just mentioned!
So, if you want to know more about Apartheid this is not the right book. Probably an essay would be more useful than this novel. And about Ms. Gordimer's psychological insight and characters living in the Apartheid, I would rather suggest "My Son's Story".
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tastes Great, and More Filling 13 Sep 2002
By Linda K. Crawford - Published on Amazon.com
This is not light reading; if you're looking for something to graze over while you sit at the pool, look elsewhere. If, however, you're looking to be challenged, to learn, to have your ideas and opinions broadened, Nadine Gordimer's works, in general, and this book in particular, will fill you to brimming if you will take the time and energy to plumb its depths. Many have written about Apartheid, but Gordimer does so with such depth and gravity and coherence and novelty, it's hard to grasp just how ambitious an undertaking this book really is.
My favorite element is the conceit she employs of the protagonist, Rosa Burger, and her connection, ambivalence to, and ultimate embracing of, being "Burger's Daughter." It's her story, most of all, of coming to terms with her individuality, her own self-determination, her own sense of justice and humanity, and discovery of her deepest beliefs; the luxury she has, as a white woman in her society, of being able to make these psychological, spiritual and physical journies. The arguments of apartheid, communism, social movements and injustices are all deep and involving, but play second fiddle to the real issue of the book, the right of self-determination for all people. Rosa ultimately capitulates to the same fate as did her father, but it is her choice, come upon by examining herself and what she values. You can't help but think that Gordimer is ruminating the odds of whether or not the rest of the populace of her native land will ever get the same chance in their lifetimes.
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