The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer (Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers)
I read The Conservationist in a kind of appalled fascination, repelled by the language South African Whites use to talk to and about the Blacks in the book. Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Prize winning author of this Booker Prize winning story, depicts her characters routinely using the language of master and servant in the most disparaging way, a kind of amused contempt exacerbated by its casual delivery. Reading it, one feels besmirched simply by being privy to the perspective of its White anti-hero, Mehring.
However as the tale unfolded, the main thing I noticed about The Conservationist was the sense of isolation of this principal character, Mehring. Unlike the dispossessed and powerless characters who work for and around him and enjoy companionable relationships with others, he – the rich, powerful white man in South Africa under Apartheid – is alone. As the story progresses he isolates himself even more, refusing all invitations and camping out in increasing discomfort rather than participate in society. Eventually his friends give up on him and the invitations dry up…
I read and blogged this book on February 10th 2011. To read the rest of my review please visit
Cross posted at ANZ LitLovers and The Complete Booker