With one uncharacteristically personal and moving exception, Gordimer (None to Accompany Me, 1994, etc.) offers crisp and richly allusive explorations of the tensions between a writer's art and the realities of life in six essays first delivered as the 1994 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard. The first essay, ``Adam's Rib: Fictions and Realities,'' in which she responds to the charge that a writer's characters are based on real people, provides an overview of the ideas she subsequently explores. For her, writing is like ``Primo Levi's metamir, in which a metaphysical mirror does not obey the law of optics but reproduces your image as it is seen by the person who stands before you.'' The writer is such a person and receives intimations, usually hidden, of what you areintimations that become fiction, in which the writer is neither a looter of characters nor an absentee presence dependent on the reader as ``producer of the text.'' Her second essay, ``Hanging on a Sunrise: Testimony and the Imagination in Revolutionary Writings,'' discusses the state of writing in postapartheid South Africa, as members of the ANC publish their memoirs, the best of which possess a ``spirit beyond and above setting the story straight, which is the business and usefulness of testimony.'' Essays such as ``Zaabalawi: The Concealed Side,'' ``To Hold the Yam and the Knife,'' and ``Forgotten Promised Land'' respectively explore the writer's quest ``for the Home that is the truth, undefined by walls, by borders, by regimes'' in Naguib Mahfouz's The Cairo Trilogy, Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah; and Amos Oz's Fima. And in ``That Other World that was the World,'' Gordimer explains how she, the child of immigrants, came to write, and how after years of alienation under apartheid, she ``may now speak of `my people.' '' A well-argued brief for writers and writing to which Gordimer's South African experience adds a unique perspective.