By Carrol Clarkson
Clarkson will pay sustained consciousness to the dynamic interplay among Coetzee's fiction and his severe writing, exploring the Nobel prize-winner's participation in, and contribution to, modern literary-philosophical debates. The publication engages with the newest literary and philosophical responses to Coetzee's paintings.
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Extra info for J. M. Coetzee: Countervoices
But we see also see the effect of the third person with unnerving clarity in the interviews when Coetzee speaks about his emergence as a writer. In the final interview in Doubling the Point, for instance, Coetzee refers to himself as a student: As a teenager, this person, this subject, the subject of this story, this I, though he more or less surreptitiously writes, decides to become, if at all possible, a scientist. (Coetzee, Doubling the Point 392–3) and during his student years he, this person, this subject, my subject, steers clear of the right.
But first I would like to follow through on Coetzee’s assertion that I quoted earlier, namely, that Boyhood and Youth would be only remotely related to their originals should they be written in the first person. Here is a passage from Boyhood: The secret and sacred word that binds him to the farm is belong. Out in the veld by himself he can breathe the word aloud: I belong on the farm. What he really believes, but does not utter, what he keeps to himself for fear that the spell will end, is a different form of the word: I belong to the farm.
Coetzee and Attwell, ‘All Autobiography is Autre-biography’ 216) In reading Coetzee, we may often get the sense that, as in the case of Beckett’s Mouth in Not I, we are up against a ‘vehement refusal to relinquish [the] third person’ (Beckett, Not I ‘Note’), especially in Boyhood and Youth. But we see also see the effect of the third person with unnerving clarity in the interviews when Coetzee speaks about his emergence as a writer. In the final interview in Doubling the Point, for instance, Coetzee refers to himself as a student: As a teenager, this person, this subject, the subject of this story, this I, though he more or less surreptitiously writes, decides to become, if at all possible, a scientist.