Setting

Time setting

Nadine Gordimer’s short story “City Lovers” was first published in 1975, and the setting is probably meant to be read as contemporary to the time of publishing. This is suggested by the presence of the apartheid system in South Africa (p. 40, ll. 33-36), which was still in place during the 1970s, and the use of contraceptive pills (p. 46, ll. 5-7) which began to be commonly used during this time.

The events of the story take place over the span of three months (p. 45, ll. 23-25). The first encounter between Dr von Leinsdorf and the woman happens “one evening in winter” (p. 40, ll. 38-39). The two get arrested “on a summer night near Christmas” (p. 44, ll. 19-20). Note that the celebration of Christmas during summer is due to South Africa’s location in the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are in reverse to the Northern Hemisphere.

Physical setting

The story is set in South Africa, in the town of Johannesburg (p. 46, l. 2). The story shows how during the 1970s, the town was divided into townships where people of different races lived separately: “She lived a bus-and-train ride away, to the west of the city but this side of the black townships, in a township reserved for people her tint” (p. 41, ll. 44-47).

The main events take place inside a flat located on the seventh floor of a building called Atlantis (p. 41, ll. 38-41). The flat is a “three-room flat in a suburban block with a landscaped central garden” (p. 40, ll. 13-15). It has a kitchen, a living room, a bedroom, a b...

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