The impetus for this paper, and also its centre of concern is the puzzlement, spilling over into plain irritation with which many critics received A Sport of Nature.1 The irritation centred around the portrayal of the main character, the young girl Hillela. She seems to drift aimlessly through the 396 pages, surviving mainly by attaching herself to a series of men, often, it seems, simply because they come in handy. Feminists were outraged. Critics were looking for a serious discussion about options in the deteriorating political climate in South Africa. (This is what one had come to expect from Gordimer who has increasingly taken on the mantle of white radicalism). Radicals and socialists were outraged. As I count myself among the feminists and socialists, I took this outrage seriously, and this paper is really a debate with myself about this perceived failure or defection in Gordimer's authorship, which up till then I had admired. I found -at least a possible- answer by positioning the novel A Sport of Nature in the authorship and seeing it as an inevitable outcome of the thematic positions Gordimer has taken up in her previous novels, even though this seems paradoxical in view of her increasing radicalism.



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