“Once Upon a Time” by Nadine Gordimer: A Fair Tale for Peace

by Biancamaria Rizzardi

Critically acclaimed as one of the most significant and dramatic anti-apartheid
testimonies, “Once Upon a Time” by Gordimer is also an astute rhetorical
construction. By placing the contentious theme of infanticide at the centre
of the narration, and with a touch that is unexpectedly both light and ironic,
the author creates a fairy tale that, while meeting the requirements of the
genre, also manages to distance itself from this through weight of grief. It is
classical tragedy – as the promulgater of a bitter model of peace – that dictates
both the form and the content of this brief story, which perfectly mirrors the
three Aristotelian unities, with its classical structure and principal arguments
drawing on the repertoire of Greek mythology.