Making Metaphors/Moving On: Burger’s Daughter and A Sport of Nature

  • Susan Winnett


Soon after its publication in June 1979, Burger’s Daughter was banned by the South African Director of Publications. After a month of international protest that received considerable attention in both South African and foreign newspapers, the Director of Publications appealed against his own committee’s ban and commissioned both a special board of literary experts to review the book and an expert on state security to issue a separate report on the threat the novel represented to the safety of the State. The literary experts overturned the decision of the censorship committee, charging it with ‘bias, prejudice, and literary incompetence’ (WHBD, p. 1); the expert on state security decided the novel represented no threat to the State. After Burger’s Daughter was unbanned, Gordimer persisted in documenting the affair in a publication entitled ‘What Happened to Burger’s Daughter’. By refusing to accept the government’s ‘rehabilitation’ of her novel, Gordimer insisted upon its controversiality; just because the State was forced to reverse its ban does not mean that the novel is any less subversive than it was originally perceived to be. And indeed, it was in order repeatedly to provoke the mutual interrogation of narrative and political authority thematized in the novel that Gordimer documented her experiences with the censors.


State Security South African Woman Literary Expert Special Board South African Director 
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Works Cited

  1. Gordimer, Nadine, Burger’s Daughter (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979) (abbreviated in text as BD).Google Scholar
  2. Gordimer, Nadine, What Happened to ‘Burger’s Daughter’ (Emmarentia, SA; Taurus, 1980). (WHBD)Google Scholar
  3. Gordimer, Nadine, A Sport of Nature (New York: Knopf, 1987). (SN).Google Scholar
  4. Gordimer, Nadine, The Essential Gesture: Writing, Politics, and Places (New York: Knopf, 1988). (EG)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Winnett

There are no affiliations available

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