Sunday, February 01, 2009

Noted: J.M. Coetzee

From Coetzee's memoir, Youth:
He pages through it. It is printed in the same fullbodied serif type as Pound's Selected Poems, a type that evokes for him intimacy, solidity. He buys the book and takes it back to Major Arkwright's. From the first page he knows he has hit on something. Propped up in bed with light pouring through the window, he reads and reads.

Watt is quite unlike Beckett's plays. There is no clash, no conflict, just the flow of a voice telling a story, a flow continually checked by doubts and scruples, its pace fitted exactly to the pace of his own mind. Watt is also funny, so funny that he rolls about laughing. When he comes to the end he starts again at the beginning.

Why did people not tell him Beckett wrote novels? How could he have imagined he wanted to write in the manner of [Ford Madox] Ford when Beckett was around all the time? In Ford there has always been the element of the stuffed shirt that he has disliked but has been hesitant to acknowledge, something to do with the value Ford placed on knowing where in the West End to buy the best motoring gloves or how to tell a M├ędoc from a Beaune; whereas Beckett is classless, or outside class, as he himself would prefer to be.


NigelBeale said...

Can't think of a novel that better captures my own experience of Youth. 'its pace fitted exactly to the pace of my own mind'

Thanks for reminding me of what a great book this is.

Rhys Tranter said...

Beautiful! I'm taking 'Youth' out of the library today. Thanks, Richard.