Thursday, March 19, 2009

J.M. Coetzee's Youth

My sister passed on to me the short novel/memoir... I found it depressing, of course. The prose is extremely straightforward, but never sparkles (whatever that means!). More importantly, I found it unrealistic. It seems very forced. There is much genuineness in the portrayal of the young man leaving South Africa for England, and setting out on life alone, eventually working as a computer programmer, and I certainly "know" the various moments of the young man's life, but honestly, no human that intelligent has such a dull interior life, who is Coetzee kidding? Every thought the young man has is a 'derived" thought from something that he was reading, and he never seems to have any thoughts of his own. Absolutely no humor, irony, sarcasm in the young man's thinking. Could it really have been that way? The book feels like a joke on the reader- a formal exercise. (For deeper analysis, see this essay by Donald Vanouse.)

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