Comrade Madam’s commanding heights

Looking down upon the masses

Looking down upon the masses from a plateau of literary, political and humanitarian achievement

Nadine Gordimer’s voice, writes Dalrymple, had a timbre that

would have penetrated the best artillery-proof armour plating.

On one occasion at a conference in Bamako that Dalrymple attended, he noticed that Gordimer

condescendingly addressed a Ghanaian lady as ‘my sister Susan’. ‘Actually, my name’s Gloria,’ said her sister Susan, but the great writer ignored this manifestation of pedantry and continued with what she was saying.


exactly corresponded to the characterisation of her by the satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys as ‘Comrade Madam’: the lifetime habit of command combined with a theoretical and dogmatic egalitarianism.

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