Student Work – Nadine Gordimer and Robin Williams

Nadine Gordimer by Kamaria Romeo

Nadine Gordimer image from Wikipedia.  Click for source.

Nadine Gordimer image from Wikipedia. Click for source.

romeo

Kamaria Romeo

South African writer Nadine Gordimer, one of the most influential literary voices against apartheid, was born on November 20, 1923. Also a political activist, she was awarded the 1991 Noble Prize in Literature. She authored more than 30 books, among them novels, short story collections, compilations of personal and political essays, as well as literary criticism.

She was born to Jewish immigrants in the gold mining town of Springs, which is near Johannesburg. While her father’s experience as a Russian refugee and her mother’s concern for the plight of blacks under apartheid sparked her interest in economic and racial inequality, Gordimer never considered herself innately political. Indeed she initially set out to indulge her love of the written word. She published her first work, a children’s story, at the age of fifteen.

However, she found it difficult, if not impossible, to delve into any exploration of South African life without running up against the pervasive and systematic institution of political and social injustice against blacks in her native country. Indeed, when Gordimer was 25, the National Party, a political party dominated by white Afrikaners, won a national election and began implementing its policy of apartheid, a legal system which mandated racial separation.

Even so, while her works teem with issues of discrimination and the moral turpitude of apartheid, they were not so much driven by achieving a political agenda as they were about plumbing the complex depths and nuances of humanity. For instance, in her second novel, A World of Strangers, the protagonist, Toby, is young upper middle class Englishman living in Johannesburg. He moves freely between his friends in both the wealthy white inhabited suburbs and the poor black townships. Although Toby is disinterested in the larger debate of the disparity between the two worlds, even adopting a voyeuristic mien toward it, he is emotionally aware enough to understand that neither world is for him.

Incidentally, for years, this novel, along with two others, were banned in South Africa. Yet, even as Gordimer’s work was banned in her native country, it continued to receive international acclaim, and throughout her career she received many international honors.

Gordimer died peacefully in her sleep at her place of residence at the age of 90 on July 13, 2014. She is survived by her daughter Oraine and her son Hugo. She routinely revealed little about her personal life in interviews, even reacting testily when posed personal questions. Perhaps this is why I was not able to locate information concerning her estate or her will. Nonetheless, it is known that she married dentist Gerald Gavron in 1949 and their daughter Oraine was born in 1950. Her marriage to Gavron ended in divorce three years after they were married. She married her second husband, Reinhold Cassirer, an art dealer who fled Nazi Germany, in 1954. Their son Hugo was born in 1955, and they remained married until Reinhold’s death in 2001. The author never remarried.

Five years after Cassirer’s death she and her housekeeper endured a frightening home invasion. During the robbery, they were dragged upstairs, her housekeeper punched and kicked, then both women were locked in a cupboard as the robbers left. She attributed the robbery to the lack of opportunities and education endemic to blacks in a society permeated by apartheid. Her response to the invasion points to a life spent grappling with South Africa’s social and political issues. In fact, Gordimer joined the banned African National Congress (ANC), a political party formed in opposition to apartheid, at times hid its leaders from the police in her home, and even transferred messages and money between its political fugitives. ANC leader and former South African President Nelson Mandela—who himself died at the age of 95 in December 2013—was a friend of Gordimer’s and read her books while incarcerated. When he was released from prison in 1991, Nadine Gordimer was one of the first people he asked to see. And as mentioned earlier, the year 1991 was the year Gordimer received the Noble Prize in Literature.

With Gordimer lending her efforts to its abolition, 1994 saw the beginning of the process of the dismantling of apartheid. And even after its abolition, Gordimer continued to write about apartheid. Her death notwithstanding, Gordimier’s legacy lives on. One need only look at the racially charged protests which played themselves out in Ferguson, Chicago when a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager to see that her literary themes of racial divide continue to resonate with a chilling familiarity.

 

                                                          References
Helen T. Verongos, Nadine Gordimer, Novelist Who Took on Apartheid, Is Dead at 90, (Jul. 14, 2014), http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/15/books/nadine-gordimer-novelist-and-apartheid-foe-dies-at-90.html
Jim Falk, Cassirer and CohenDraft Family Genealogy: Person Sheet, (Jul. 16, 2014), http://genealogy.metastudies.net/PS04/PS04_204.HTM
Justin Cartwright, Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer: ‘I have failed at many things, but I have never been afraid,’ (Jul. 14, 2014), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/authorinterviews/9163672/Nobel-laureate-Nadine-Gordimer-I-have-failed-at-many-things-but-I-have-never-been-afraid.html
Marianne Macdonald, A Writer’s Life: Nadine Gordimer, (Jun. 04, 2003), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3595826/A-writers-life-Nadine-Gordimer.html
Michelle Bailat-Jones, Nadine Gordimer – A World of Strangers, PIECES, (Feb. 22, 2008), http://michellebailatjones.com/2008/02/22/nadine-gordimer-a-world-of-strangers/
Nadine Gordimer Biography, Academy of Achievement, (Jul. 14, 2014), http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/gor1bio-1
Todd Leopold, Nadine Gordimer, South African author, dies, (Jul. 14, 2014), http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/14/world/africa/obit-nadine-gordimer/

Robin Williams by Kerricia Williams

Robin Williams image from Wikipedia.  Click for source.

Robin Williams image from Wikipedia. Click for source.

 

Kerricia Williams

Kerricia Williams

 

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it,” Robin Williams.

The year 2014 can be considered the year that America lost some of the most influential people who brought smiles to many faces across the globe. It is very ironic that the individuals who bring such joy into other’s households, onto televisions and movie screens and into various arenas with their comedy are often not happy. On August 11, 2014 Oscar award winning Comedian and Actor Robin Williams died from suicide by hanging. Williams was found by his personal assistant hanging from a belt on a closet door in his room at his home in Tiburon, California. Robin Williams was clothed and seated when found by a distraught personal assistant. Dr. Joseph Cohen a chief forensic pathologist from Marine County’s sheriff’s office has produced information that there was no apparent struggle in Williams’ death although he had minor cuts to his wrists. He was fully clothed and seated in an upright position. It is reported that he suffered from drug and alcohol addiction and was in and out of sobriety for many years. Robin Williams was said to have also been battling depression. He was 63 years of age.  Robin Williams is survived by his wife Susan Schneider and his 3 children; Zelda Rae Williams, Zachary Pym Williams and Cody Alan Williams.

 

Born Robin McLaurin Williams on July 21, 1951, in Chicago, the destined for greatness funny man studied at the prestigious Julliard in Manhattan, New York and got his big break when he was noticed by a producer during an audition for ABC’s Mork and Mindy which was a spinoff of Happy Days. Williams was known for his amazing performances in his top movies; Mrs. Doubfire, Dead Poets Society, Hook, Aladdin, The Fisher King, One hour Photo and Good Morning Vietnam. Many can agree that Mrs. Doubtfire has to be one of America’s favorite Robin Williams films, he was exceptionally funny especially dressed as an elder woman. The most intriguing point about(Mrs. Doubtfire 1993) is the message the film sends about a father wanting to see his children and an ex-wife moving on after a divorce he certainly was still grieving over. It was great to see Williams go between being funny and sentimental. Although he was comedic, Williams was able to play on the hearts of fans in some of his films. Aside from his film contributions Williams associated himself with many charities such as the Read Now Program that helps children get interested in reading, St Jude’s for children’s cancers, and the yellow bracelet campaign for Lance Armstrong. Robin has made numerous trips overseas to entertain our troops past and present. His participation with various charities has encouraged his fellow friends, comedians, actors and actresses to do the same. Williams helped a young man named Christopher Reeve with his medical bills and he also rode a bicycle in a tri-Athlon to support a young man with no legs.

 

Much of Robin Williams’ estate and will details are kept private. However, it is reported that he has two separate trusts; one for his real estate and one for his children holding his monetary possessions. There is also estate tax limitation apart of his will plan. “…Zachary, Cody and Zelda will each receive a third of his/her share at age 21, half of the remaining share at age 25, and the rest at age 30” Robin Williams’ Net Worth in Trusts For 3 Children … Despite Depression And Financial Problems, ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ Star Put Family First, (August 13, 2014, 6:29 pm),http://www.hollywoodtake.com/robin-williams-net-worth-trusts-3-children-despite-depression-and-financial-problems-mrs-53328

 

Leonard Greene, The Life and Times of Robin Williams, (August 12, 2014, 4:55pm),http://nypost.com/2014/08/12/the-life-and-times-of-robin-williams/.
 
Arienne Thompson, Marina Puente and Elizabeth Weise, Oscar winner found dead by his personal assistant, hanging by a belt from a closet door,
 (August 13, 2014 9:02 am), http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/08/12/robin-williams-death-leaves-world-stunned/13947643/.
 
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