J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing by David Attwell
04 May 2015
J.M. Coetzee is one of the most intriguing of authors in all of world literature. Supple, razor-sharp, compelling, erudite: the adjectives pile up, but we seem to get no closer to the elusive heart of his fiction. Now, in J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing, David Attwell illuminates the extraordinary creative processes behind Coetzee’s novels from Dusklands to The Childhood of Jesus. Using Coetzee’s manuscripts, notebooks and research papers—recently deposited at the Ransom Center of the University of Texas at Austin—Attwell produces a fascinating story of the creative trajectory and the life out of which the fiction was engendered. He shows convincingly that all of Coetzee’s work is autobiographical, the memoirs being continuous with the fictions, and that his writing proceeds with self-conscious and never-ending reflection. This is a moving and readable account which is bound to change the way Coetzee is read, by the critics and general reader alike.
About the author
David Attwell, who is Professor of English at the University of York, is one of the most sophisticated critics of J.M. Coetzee’s novels. His own writing about Coetzee has in fact become inseparable from Coetzee scholarship (he edited the seminal book of essays and interviews with Coetzee entitled Doubling the Point). In some respects, then, J.M. Coetzee & the Life of Writing brings us full circle: it is as much about Coetzee’s work, as about the evolution of this important critic’s own engagement with the meaning of the novels. This point is made clear in the preface: Attwell has, after rigorous study of the manuscripts, come to realise that Coetzee’s processes of writing are at least as fascinating as the finished product. What he offers is less a biography of Coetzee the man than an intimate study of the evolution of his writing.
Date of Publication: April 2015
Publisher: Jacana Media