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22 July – Darkness at Noon

In this essay, South African author André Brink describes the pain he felt when terror struck Norway in July 2011, and the pride he felt for a nation that came together and rose up amid the sorrow.

Flowers to Commemorate the Victims of 22 July Massacre
Flowers to Commemorate the Victims of 22 July Massacre

Read the whole article from NRK Nyheter, 15 April 2012, and do the tasks.

"Darkness at Noon" by André Brink

About the Text

  1. "Darkness at Noon" is the title of the essay. Explain the choice of title.
  2. What does the first part of the essay deal with? How does this emphasise how terrible the terror attack 22/7 was?
  3. What images of Norway does André Brink use? Do they give a realistic picture of the country?
  4. How does he compare and contrast Norway and South Africa?
  5. How have South African politics changed in the last twenty years according to the author?
  6. This is a personal essay. What makes it personal? Find examples.

Speaking

Read the information about André Brink's background and in pairs retell each other what he is renowned for.

Write a Caption

Write a caption (bildetekst) for each picture in the picture gallery associated with the article.

Discuss

  1. Can an individual person have a long lasting influence on the development of society in a country? Name some examples
  2. Discuss the following statement and why you think it made such an impression internationally: "If one man can show so much hate think how much love we could show standing together."
  3. Consider the quotation: "--- the response to it should not be hate but, instead, «more democracy, more openness»." Is this what has happened in Norway or is the reality more complex?
  4. André Brink says, "It is the king. Every inch a king." What do you think the author means by "Every inch a king"?
  5. How does the style and personality of the Norwegian king compare to royalty in other countries?
  6. “While elsewhere, in our own poor, dark, narrow world, the small local king and his many wives must crouch in lies and sham and subterfuge.” Might he be referring to a particular person/s here? Who do you think that might be?
  7. "Finding ourselves in South Africa, some ten thousand kilometres away from our friends and the scene of the massacre, made the whole experience quite unbearable." Why do you think this was so?

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