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Youth by J. M. Coetzee

Youth (2002)

by J. M. Coetzee

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Coetzee's Scenes from Provincial Life (2)

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1,383325,509 (3.68)83
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» See also 83 mentions

English (18)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (5)  Swedish (3)  Finnish (1)  All (32)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
if I could give this book negative stars, I would. absolutely one of the worst books I've ever read. if you want details, let me know, but they will include spoilers. ( )
  Noel_A | Jan 24, 2016 |
if I could give this book negative stars, I would. absolutely one of the worst books I've ever read. if you want details, let me know, but they will include spoilers. ( )
  Noel_A | Jan 24, 2016 |
You'd think that there'd be more action in the second part of a kind-of-auto biography, and in one sense there is more action here than in Boyhood. He has various jobs, he moves overseas, he has depressing sex with a great number of women while convincing himself that he's a complete failure with women. But for all that it's less affecting, as if the need to tell the 'story' over-rides what made Boyhood great. There's still lots going on... perhaps it's just harder to have anything but contempt for the Coetzee of these pages, who holds onto a pathetic residual romanticism despite having pretty good taste in books; who is disturbingly fixated on his penis/his fixation on his penis; and manages to make even a nice period of his life end up with an image of him losing at a game of chess. Anyone who's ever lost at a well played game of chess will know the frustration, and appreciate the analogy. But it's hard to see how having a good job, with some decent friends, albeit without being a Major Author, gives rise to that level of frustration. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
"Youth" is a portrait of an artist as a young man - struggling to find his way.
Maybe I will just start with a quote;

"At 18 he might have been a poet. Now he is not a poet, not a writer, not an artist. He is a computer programmer, a 24year old computer programmer in a world where there are (yet) no 30 year old computer programmers. At 31 he is too old to be a programmer: one turns oneself into something else - some kind of businessman - or shoots oneself" Coetzee.

Darn. I have 7 foolscap pages of handwritten notes I made while reading. Somehow have to condense it. I will return to this.

Review in progress / feeling too sick to write reviews too fast between coughing. This was excellent though. Want to read more of Coetzee. Recommend this for would be writers, poets or anyone really who is sucking on their misery / dark night of the soul stuff.

btw excuse slashes / as punctuation, my keyboard is cracking up in sympathy with my lungs. Delete, hyphen and various other keys not working.

Library borrow. Just discovered this author last night and found this slim volume on my college library shelves today. I am trying to expand the range of authors I'm reading so this is kind of like a test drive. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Het tweede deel van Coetzee's autobiografie. Zeer indringend portret van zijn jonge, eenzame jaren in Londen. Hij werkt als programmeur maar dat hij kunstenaar zal worden is voor hem overduidelijk. Hij is extreem egocentrisch, hoekig in de omgang en zich daar zelf heel goed van bewust. Alles staat in functie van zijn roeping. Zijns moeders bekommernis wijst hij af, en lamlendig als zijn vader wil hij niet worden. De afstandelijke, bijna klinische stijl wordt naar het einde toe een beetje vermoeiend maar past helemaal bij de monomane introspectie die de schrijver zichzelf oplegt om tot volwassenheid te komen. ( )
  joucy | Feb 25, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Coetzee, J. M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Preis, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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He lives in a one-room flat near Mowbray railway station, for which he pays eleven guineas a month.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142002003, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:39 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Youth's narrator, a student in 1950s South Africa, has long been plotting an escape from his native country. Studying mathematics, reading poetry, saving money, he tries to ensure that when he arrives in the real world he will be prepared to experience life to its full intensity, and transform it into art. Arriving at last in London, however, he finds neither poetry nor romance. Instead he succumbs to the monotony of life as a computer programmer, from which random, loveless affairs offer no relief. Devoid of inspiration, he stops writing and begins a dark pilgrimage in which he is continually tested and continually found wanting. Set against the background of the 1960s, Youth is a remarkable portrait of a consciousness turning in on itself. J.M. Coetzee explores a young man's struggle to find his way in the world with tenderness and a fierce clarity.… (more)

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