Elegant collection of essays

2008-10-02 08:04

In the more than three decades that J.M. Coetzee has forged a reputation as one of the world's greatest novelists, a status confirmed in 2003 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, he has also made a name for himself as a precise and cerebral literary critic and reviewer, chiefly in the New York Review of Books.

Yet while his novels - among them Dusklands, Waiting for the Barbarians, Life and Times of Michael K, Age of Iron and Disgrace - are well known in literary circles, as are his fictionalised autobiographies Boyhood and Youth, his critical works are less so. White Writing, a collection of essays on South African literature and culture, appeared in 1988, but it was not until 2001 with the publication of Stranger Shores: Essays 1986-1999, that the public had an opportunity to read a comprehensive collection of his reviews.

And now, with the publication of Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005 has appeared a further volume of his critical writings. Typically of Coetzee, the writers he dissects are themselves intellectuals who in their different ways have operated near the pinnacle of literary achievement, even if they aren't particularly familiar to the general public: among them, Italo Svevo, Robert Musil, Joseph Roth and W. G. Sebald. Others, like Samuel Beckett, Nadine Gordimer, Günter Grass, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and V. S. Naipaul, perhaps have a wider audience. But in each case, Coetzee applies his razor eye to the work in question, laying bare the creation itself and the culture and history behind it.

While Inner Workings is not a racy read, it is an elegant and challenging collection of essays of the kind that Coetzee's admirers have come to expect of him, and respect.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.