“I want to be a force for real good. In other words. I know that there are bad forces, forces that bring suffering to others and misery to the world, but I want to be the opposite force. I want to be the force which is truly for good”
A refreshing new look at the writings of the Nobel laureate
In The Slow Philosophy of J.M. Coetzee Jan Wilm analyses Coetzee’s singular aesthetic style which, he argues, provokes the reader to read his works slowly. The effected ‘slow reading’ is developed into a method specifically geared to analyzing Coetzee’s singular oeuvre, and it is shown that his works productively decelerate the reading process only to dynamize the reader’s reflexion in a way that may be termed philosophical. Drawing on fresh archival material, this is the first study of its kind to explore Coetzee’s writing process as already slow; as a program of seemingly relentless revision which brings forth his uniquely dense and crystalline style. Through the incorporation of material from drafts and notebooks, this study is also the first to combine an exploration of the writer’s stylistic choices with a rigorous analysis of the reader’s responses. The book includes close readings of Coetzee’s popular and lesser known work, including Disgrace, Waiting for the Barbarians, Elizabeth Costello, Life and Times of Michael K and Slow Man.
“One does not have to look for distress. It is screaming at you even in the taxis of London.”
“Yes, [my texts] deal with distress. Some people object to this in my writing. At a party an English intellectual—so-called—asked me why I write always about distress. As if it were perverse to do so! He wanted to know if my father had beaten me or my mother had run away from home to give me an unhappy childhood. I told him no, that I had had a very happy childhood. Then he thought me more perverse than ever. I left the party as soon as possible and got into a taxi. On the glass partition between me and the driver were three signs: one asked for help for the blind, another help for orphans, and the third for relief for the war refugees. One does not have to look for distress. It is screaming at you even in the taxis of London.”
— Samuel Beckett, in Tom Driver, ‘Beckett by the Madeleine’, Columbia University Forum, 4:3 (1961).