19.12.13

J. M. Coetzee on Nelson Mandela

South African Nobel laureate reflects on Mandela's passing
Supporters awaiting the arrival of Nelson Mandela, Lamontville, South Africa, 1994. Photograph: Ian Berry/Magnum Photos
From J. M. Coetzee (The New York Review of Books):
Mandela’s personal and political authority had its basis in his principled defense of armed resistance to apartheid and in the harsh punishment he suffered for that resistance. It was given further backbone by his aristocratic mien, which was not without a gracious common touch, and his old-fashioned education, which held before him Victorian ideals of personal integrity and devotion to public service.

He managed relations with a wife whose behavior became increasingly scandalous with exemplary forbearance.

He was, and by the time of his death was universally held to be, a great man; he may well be the last of the great men, as the concept of greatness retires into the historical shadows. [Read More]

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