J. M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing

J. M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing

Language: English

Pages: 712

ISBN: 1922070084

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A global publishing event of the rarest kind, this biography has been written with the full cooperation of J. M. Coetzee, who granted the author interviews, and put him in touch with family, friends, and colleagues who could talk about events in Coetzee’s life. For the first time, Coetzee allowed complete access to his private papers and documents, including the manuscripts of his 16 novels. Author J. C. Kannemeyer made a study of the enormous body of literature on Coetzee, and through archival research unearthed further information not previously available. The books deals in depth with Coetzee’s origins, early years, and first writings; his British interlude from 1962–65; his time in America from 1965–71; his 30 years back in South Africa, when he achieved international recognition and won the Man Booker Prize; and his Australian years since 2002, during which time he won the Nobel Prize. J. M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing is a major work that corrects many of the misconceptions about Coetzee and illuminates the genesis and implications of his novels.

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an auberge outside Lavaur he ordered the menu of the day for f55, but asked the patronne to omit the ham from the salad and to replace the agneau with an omelette — in spite of which he received a salad with tinned tuna, because a cook in France, according to the hostess, cannot imagine a life without meat, just as the Chinese pour a thin chicken-leg gruel over vegetables to add a meaty taste. For someone with his apparently eccentric perspective, the French culinary imagination is more limited

some respects, like the breakup of a marriage. It is an intimate matter.3 Although Coetzee nowhere commits himself as to the reasons for his emigration, it may be possible to draw certain conclusions from his life and his work. When he left South Africa at the end of 1961 and settled in England, he was appalled at the political course his country was steering with apartheid, and he intended never to return. When, in 1966, he was studying on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Texas, and

appeared in Fair Lady. 19 J.M. Coetzee, ‘Idleness in South Africa’, White Writing, New Haven / London, Yale University Press, 1988, pp. 12–35. 20 Doubling the Point, p. 51. 21 Ibid., p. 51. 22 Rae Nadler-Olenick, ‘Cape Town to Stockholm, with a layover in Austin’, The Alcade, January / February 2004. 23 Doubling the Point, p. 51. 24 One of Beckett’s better students later characterised his manner of teaching as follows: ‘He was a very impersonal lecturer. He said what he had to say and then

with the emphasis on what ‘really’ happened. When, before the publication of Dusklands, J.M. Coetzee was asked by his publisher, Peter Randall of Ravan Press, to provide some biographical details for publicity purposes, he was reluctant to comply. ‘As for my family background,’ he wrote to Randall in a letter of 17 January 1974, ‘I am one of the 10, 000 Coetzees, and what is there to be said about them except that Jacobus Coetzee begat them all?’ From this assertion, which Randall, against

that would be interrupted if he had to leave the US. Before O’Neill could reply, Coetzee received, on 13 December 1968, a letter from Professor G.H. Durrant of the Department of English at the University of British Columbia at Vancouver, Canada, formerly of the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. Durrant offered him an assistant professorship at an annual salary of $10500. Durrant says that he would like Coetzee to offer part of the course in Modern British literature, but that he would

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