Coetzee: An Experience
It was dusk. I was deeply involved in my studies when I came across first time to John Maxwell Coetzee, one of the literary strongmen, in every aspect, to date. I remember yet clearly, in those days, I was studying for competitive examinations in 1999.Particularly, I was reading current affairs. A page caught my sight where it was written in the biographical format that this year’s Booker Prize goes to J M Coetzee, an African writer who writes about colonalisim,who has his own identity as a penman of odd issues in those days, who picks up a very simple theme and develop it with his high potential, whose characters are both black and white, who has complete empathy for his characters,who is very reclusive, whose only son died by an accident and whose personal life is an example of never ending grief and pains.
Next paragraph made me more curious about the writer. The book says –His Disgrace is considered as a modern classic. The use of language and his treatment to the plot is unique. Mainly, Coetzee is known for multi-dimensional treatment to his plot. Apparently looking tiny novel leaves many opportunities to the reader to think over his theme, charecters and so on.
This brief introduction of Coetzee aroused a deep curiosity in my mind. Very next day, I got a copy of Disgrace and ended it within next three days. I was astonished after turning the last page. Frankly speaking, I could not understand all aspects of the novel in first reading. It made restless for a while. What impressed me most was Coetzee’s daring to narrate David Lury’s, the protagonist of the novel, downfall as a teacher and secondly his allegoric treatment to the story. I felt that he is a writer of the first rank in world literature. Then I started my own search of his other writings. One day, in our college library, I found ‘Waiting for the Barbarion’, another masterpiece of Coetzee that was fully wrapped with many years old dust. I thought I was the first reader of that novel who was dusting off it. How nice! Just 170 pages. I could finish it within next two days, an immediate thought erupt in my mind. But when I started to read it, every page made me exhausted. I found it was difficult me to enter in the fictional world of Coetzee. His characters do not allow me to come up with them easily. With their movement in the plot, they crushed down every literary norm I ever pondered in my mind. I found, his characters have their own strenth, their own nature, their own human identity and above all their own grief and own mark of acceptance.Still, I was reading. Moving in the forest with the magistrate, the main character, trying to understand the pains of so called barbarians and inhuman treatment they receive from the world they circled in. Very slowly I was proceeding with the plot. Most of the things were very difficult me to understand.Initially,to see the size of the book, I thought that I could read it within two days, but it took ten days to turn the last page. Much of the things still remain ununderstandable to me. ‘Reading Coetzee is a painstaking experience’.-that was my comment I still remember. But the greatness of Coetzee as a novelist made me his fan and still I am having same opinion.
Some of three years ago, I got an opportunity to translate his Disgrace in Marathi, my mothertounge.It was challenging, but I accepted it and within period of six months I completed its translation which was critically acclaimed work.
It was a memorable day when I personally met Coetzee in Jaipur literary festival where I could shoot photos with him and listened him as a contributor of that festival.
Today M Coetzee has a cult like status in the world literature. Many research projects have been under taken on hid work. Lots of conferences are organized to discuss Coetzee. You can’t think about modern literature without discussing Coetzee. But in the seventh decade of his age, he still stick up with his reclusiveness that is the special and much talked aspect of his personility.Coetzee is known for not receiving Booker Prize personally and criticized foe leaving South Africa and immigrated to Australia.
Considering all above issues, one cannot deny the greatness of Coetzee as a penman for years and years.