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The work of JM Coetzee

The work of JM Coetzee

This is just a brief guide - still very, very much under construction - to some of the works of JM Coetzee (b. February 9th, 1940). John Maxwell Coetzee was born in South Africa, his father worked for the government and also as a sheep farmer. When Coetzee was eight, his father lost his government job due to his opposition to the apartheid government. The family then moved to the provincial town of Worcester. He attended the University of Cape Town where he received degrees in Mathematics and English, he then moved to London where he worked as a computer programmer. In 1965 he left London for the United States studying for a PhD in linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin. He returned to South Africa in 1971, after spending three years teaching at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His life in the US during the 1960s inspired his novella The Vietnam Project which follows a protagonist who is working on a propaganda project to destroy the country of Vietnam. This novella appeared in his first book 1974s Dusklands.

Coetzee received the Booker prize in 1984 for the Life & Times of Michael K and again in 1999 with Disgrace.

Landscape with Rowers: Poetry from the Netherlands
Particularly fine is Sybren Polet's Self-repeating poem, a kind of Dutch Beat poem. Do note that this is only a very small selection. The book may be a hundred pages long, but this is a "Facing Pages" edition (so, you get a page of Dutch orginal to each page of English translation). It is beautifully presented with an awful lot of white space, which means, in reality, only one poem for each of the six poets (Cees Nooteboom, Gerrit Achterberg, Hugo Claus, Sybren Polet, Hans Faverey, and Rutger Kopland), the longest of which is only actually fourteen pages long. A lovely edition, but pricey at £12.95.

Bibliography (works in English): Dusklands Two novellas – The Vietnam project and The Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee (orig. Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1974); In The Heart of the Country (orig. Secker & Warburg, 1977; published in the USA as From the Heart of the Country ; Waiting for the Barbarians (orig. Secker & Warburg, 1980); Life & Times of Michael K (orig. Secker & Warburg, 1983); Foe (orig. Secker & Warburg, 1986); White Writing: on the Culture of Letters in South Africa (Yale Univ. Press, 1988); Age of Iron (orig. Secker & Warburg, 1990); Doubling the Point: Essays and Interviews (Harvard Univ. Press, 1992); The Master of Petersburg (orig. Secker & Warburg, 1994); Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1996); Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life (orig. Secker & Warburg, 1997); What is Realism? (Bennington College, 1997); Disgrace (orig. Secker & Warburg, 1999); The Lives of Animals (edited and introduced by Amy Gutmann, Princeton Univ. Press, 1999); The Humanities in Africa (Carl Friedrich von Siemens-Stiftung, 2001); Stranger Shores (essays, 1986–1999). (Secker & Warburg, 2001); Youth (orig. Secker & Warburg, 2002); Elizabeth Costello (orig. Secker & Warburg, 2003).

Further reading: See the Nobel prize Coetzee page, the Guardian Coetzee page, kirjasto's Coetzee page, a Coetzee bibliography (at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga!), David Attwell's J.M. Coetzee: South Africa and the Politics of Writing, Emory university Coetzee page, Seattle Arts & Lecture's Coetzee page. The Spring 2004 edition of World Literature Today was dedicated to Coetzee and they have his 2003 Nobel Lecture He and His Man (in pdf). See also Doubling the Point: Essays and Interviews and J.M.Coetzee: South Africa and the Politics of Writing.

-- Mark Thwaite (15/08/2004)

Readers Comments

  1. Govinda Prasad Ghimire says... Thursday 25 October 2012

    I am very much impressed reading the book entitled Waiting for the Barbarians. I am going through the book deeply since i am doing research for my thesis on this book. It is the greatest contribution in the field of Literature.

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