Truth and Reconciliation in Nadine Gordimer's The House Gun

Francesca Mussi

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The House Gun is the first novel by Nadine Gordimer to be set firmly in post-apartheid South Africa. By focusing on a private disaster, ‘a Dostoyevskyan crime of passion’ (Lenta 58), and one which is not directly politically motivated, The House Gun seems to have turned away from the characteristic issues that preoccupied the author in her previous works. Gordimer’s earlier fiction established her strong engagement with South Africa’s historical and political situation, and her interest in the relationship between the political and the personal as well as the public and the private. As Stephen Clingman has noted, ‘through the succession of Gordimer’s novels there is . . . a dialectical interplay, in which the exploration of history and character, of external and internal worlds, becomes entirely indivisible’ (8–9). Although staging a personal drama, The House Gun also shows Gordimer’s engagement with the South African context, and, in particular, with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) — significantly, the novel was published in 1998, during the work of the Commission. Through an analysis of the enigmatic figure of Duncan Lingard, this essay will demonstrate how The House Gun explores concepts of truth and reconciliation, as well as the categories of ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ as envisaged by the TRC. In so doing, it will expose a certain level of hybridity underlying these concepts, or, in other words, show that
they exist in the reconciliation of opposing pairs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-79
Issue number2
Early online date25 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


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