The Conservationist

The Conservationist

by Nadine Gordimer


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140047165
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/1983
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 158,283
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Nadine Gordimer is the author of eleven previous novels, as well as collections of stories and essays. She has received many awards, including the Booker Prize (for The Conservationist in 1974) and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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The Conservationist 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing 11 months ago
A deceptively entrancing novel full of both humor and darkness, this novel's voice and style make it unforgettable. Gordimer's unfolding of the main character is artful and worth exploring, and the poetry of this novel alone makes it worth the read.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I really struggled with this. It needs to be read slowly, analysed line by line to tease out the meaning, and I really tried to stay with it but in end the current pulled me under.It's a tale of farming in South Africa, of pig iron, of differing standards of living and of questionable goings-on under aircraft blankets. Told in a series of random though patterns that's only just this side of James Joyce, it's difficult to work out what is happening at any given time, who is talking and who they are talking to. It reminded me of those weird posters in vogue during the early '90s that seemed to depict nothing at all until you relaxed your eyes and looked 'through' them and they suddenly resolved themselves into a 3D image. There were occasional flashes of lucidity in which I could tell why this author is so highly acclaimed. Mostly, however, it just seemed like a jumble of abstract thought.I know there must be layer upon layer of allegory in this book but it doesn't matter how beautiful the water is if you're drowning in it. I was hoping to learn more about South African society, and when better to do so than while we're all watching it on the World Cup. In the end, I fear only literary eggheads will gain knowledge from this book. Like the apartheid system itself, I was profoundly glad when it came to an end.
stephmo on LibraryThing 11 months ago
The Conservationist quickly introduces Mehring as the wealthy businessman who has recently purchased his weekend getaway 400-acres of South African farm (complete with Afrikaner staff) bought largely for purpose of saying, "I have a little farm I get to on the weekends." This is still an Apartheid South Africa, so Mehring's staff has been working and living on the farm for an untold time, keeping his accessory fully functioning for that day when he can invite untold guests down for the weekend.Gordimer's novel is sparse but thick. Mehring's got an undeniable talent for making money from his homeland - during our story, he'll talk about his pig-iron deposits and admit he has little understanding of the material outside of it being 'used somewhere in steel.' This is Mehring in a nutshell. At every turn, he's given the opportunity to understand more about those people and things around him that support him, but Gordimer gives us a character that only chooses to learn once he thinks that it may impress a faceless mistress (he learns to identify the flowers that bloom on his farm, picturing the walks he'll take where he can show of his new-found knowledge). It is Mehring's ability to be in his environment, but not of his environment that cuts to the heart of this story. It's not just the farm where he holds this talent, he's done the same as a husband, a father, a lover and a friend. In this farm environment, however, Mehring will discover that his attempts to remain apart from the upheaval of the land and local politics will be impossible.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing 11 months ago
The Conservationist is an in-depth character study of Mehring, a South African businessman-cum-farmer. His success in industry provided the means to buy a 400-acre farm, which serves primarily as a tax write-off. In his quest for material success, Mehring has lost his wife and a mistress. His teenage son attends school some distance away, and has become increasingly independent -- estranged, perhaps -- from his father. Mehring mistakenly views interaction with the black laborers on his farm as a meaningful relationship. In reality, the South African class structure ensures their relationship remains distant.I found Mehring to be a fairly despicable and pathetic character, which I believe was Gordimer's intent. He is a philanderer, at one point fondling a young lady he'd never met for the better part of a long-haul flight. Yech. And while at times he seems to appreciate the natural beauty of his farm, he has no one to share it with him. His time spent at the farm is empty, a way to pass the weekend or to hide from social obligations.This was a difficult book to read because the main character was so unlikeable, and it revolved much more around character than plot. However, Gordimer writes some pretty amazing, descriptive prose that brought the South African scenery to life. Despite my rather lukewarm reaction to this particular novel, I will definitely be reading more of her work.
siafl on LibraryThing 11 months ago
While I recognize all sorts of wonderful things in this book, that it's well-crafted, that it has a wealth of beautiful imagery, poetry, oxymoron usages, what not, the overall reading experience wasn't particularly good. I found a number of parts hard to follow and as a result was often bored by it. I don't know if there's another, better, way to write this story, but it has turned off my interest of reading any more of Gordimer's work, frankly, and that's unfortunate.It says on the back cover that this book "demands and rewards careful reading", which is accurate. The parts that I did pay attention to were as masterful as a great novel should be, and I was satisfied and glad that I read them. Then there were parts where I heard myself say things like "so they have sex..." and found myself skimming over them, because I thought the Gordimer ever-so-slightly crossed the line into being tricky.Great to read if you have the time and patience. Not a light book despite its volume.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An extraordinary book--both emotionally and intellectually satisfying.  It fully repays many readings, especially for the sophisticated reader.  It is beautifully constructed, beautifully allusive: the opposite of "a mess."
puzzleman More than 1 year ago
Like the farm enjoyed by the owner, this book is a mess. Trying to follow the wanderings of this character's mindset is nearly impossible. The author should be writing poetry, not a story. Even that attempt is done poorly. Forget about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Mehring, a wealthy high class businessman and landowner from Transvaal who narrate his life throughout internal monologues, reflections and fragments of conversations with his distant son, lovers, adquaints and workers of his farm, giving us an idea of how empty and lonely his life is. Ms. Gordimer - using Mehring character - gave us a portrait of a South Africa divided by the Apartheid laws where social status in linked with the skin color and also gave us and idea of the idiosyncracy of all the characters of this story, the boers, the indians and the blacks who interact and live together but separated.