The Conservationist Author:Nadine Gordimer A wealthy industrialist, attractive to women and not yet fifty, Mehring wants for nothing that white privilege in a black country can bring him. With a luxury flat in the city and an expense-account farm in the country, what he is prepared at all costs to preserve is his way of life. — Neither his Leftist mistress nor his long-haired schoolboy so... more »n - both of whose love he is confident he can do without - can shake his faith in his unalienable right to his possessions. No one successfully disputes his claims - not Jacobus and the other ragged black workers who tend his four hundred acres of the Transvaal, or the Indians who run the country store, or the Boer farmers who regard him as an amateur, or the 150,000 blacks who live in a segregated township between farm and city. Only the presence of a dead man, abandoned near the river, asserts that Africa, in the end, is something a white man can't buy.
The Conservationist is a deeply fascinating study of a man both reckless and calculating, subconsciously seeking human alienation as a form of self-preservation. Because he has maneuvered himself into a position where life, he thinks, cannot move him, he sees himself as impregnable, the ultimate "conservationist" clinging to patterns that reassure him of his power. Played out in vivid counterpoint to Mehring's memories and fantasies are the lives of those who serve but scarcely notice him - his victims and his benefactors. And the overwhelming third presence is the calm beauty of the land they contend.
Winner of the The Man Booker Prize for Best Novel in 1974.« less