Youth: Coetzee, J. M.

Youth

Coetzee, J. M.

Published by Secker & Warburg, 2002
ISBN 10: 0436205823 / ISBN 13: 9780436205828
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Inscribed by the author on the title page: "For. with good wishes. J. M. Coetzee. First Edition, Second Impression. Black cover boards are clean with little wear. Dust jacket has slight shelf wear, but no stains or tears, price intact on flap, in mylar sleeve. Interior pages are clean and unmarked with slight age toning along margins. Text block is square. Binding is solid.A scarce signed copy of this novel from the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature (2003). Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: Book by Coetzee, J.M.

Review: After the brooding, dark menace of his Booker Prize-winning novel Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee's Youth is a slighter, more restrained work. Written in succinct, almost cold prose, it's a painfully maudlin bildsrungsroman that explores the dreary follies of youth rather than its more celebrated joys. The unprepossessing protagonist John is a South African mathematics graduate with literary aspirations, a dreamer who constantly yearns to meet a girl who will serve as his lover and muse. Having abandoned Cape Town after Sharpeville he finds Swinging '60s London grey, damp, and uninviting. Reluctantly he finds employment as a computer programmer. In between trundling from his grimy Archway bedsit to his soulless job, this autodidactic Pooter dabbles on a study of Ford Maddox Ford, composes an Ezra Pound-inspired poem (ostentatiously entitled "The Portuguese Rock-Lobster Fisherman"), and embarks on "one humiliating affair after another." Despite his artistic and romantic endeavors, John seems only able to cultivate "dull, honest, misery" and, broken by London, flees to a new programming job in Berkshire. Here he practically renounces literature and, for a while at least, concentrates on chess problems and feeding primitive computers magnetic tape. His creative and sexual drives appear to have gone, leaving him to consider the possibility that he might actually have grown up.

Like the halting, self-interrogating consciousness of John's computers, Coetzee renders his character's inner life through a series of rhetorical questions. These lend the book a curiously existentialist air but also contribute to its slightly dilatory gait. (It feels far longer than its 170-odd pages.) Coetzee's tone is so laconic it's hard, on occasions, to be entirely certain if John's poetic ambitions should be pitied or simply laughed at. However, this novel does offer an unflinchingly acute dissection of the adolescent male psyche. --Travis Elborough, Amazon.co.uk

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Youth
Publisher: Secker & Warburg
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good
Edition: 1st Edition

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COETZEE, J.M.
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