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Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II by J.…
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Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II (original 2002; edition 2003)

by J. M. Coetzee

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1,198296,687 (3.67)65
Member:puckers
Title:Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II
Authors:J. M. Coetzee
Info:Penguin Books (2003), Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
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Work details

Youth by J. M. Coetzee (Author) (2002)

  1. 00
    Hunger by Knut Hamsun (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Fictionalized account of the author's youth struggling to succeed as an artist in the city.
  2. 00
    The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery by Janwillem van de Wetering (pingdjip)
    pingdjip: A young man chasing a dream confronts his own limitations. Sober, subtle and ruthlessly honest.
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» See also 65 mentions

English (16)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (4)  Swedish (3)  Finnish (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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 |
A strangely interesting book about a very uninteresting youth. No backbone or brains, the boy was so in love with the thought of being a poet that he never realizes that he isn't one. Love the way it was written. ( )
  autumnesf | Aug 18, 2012 |
Another great novel(la) from Coetzee. This guy has such a way with words. He just sucks you in. His novels are never uplifting but they describe the human condition with such vivid clarity that it almost makes you feel embarrassed to be a member of the species.

Youth is heavily based on Coetzee’s own experience of emigrating to early 1960s London. Even if you don’t know this when you pick it up, it’s apparent very early on. This lends the book an amazing realism which envelopes you in the character.

Having been a youth and, like Coetzee, been confronted with the myriad choices that lie before you in your early 20s as well as stretches in foreign countries, I completely related to the angst that “John” feels at every turn. Taking jobs that are compromises for the idealism he feels must be, surely, raging deep down in his being, this is a journey of self-discovery which leads pretty much nowhere.

While some might be frustrated with the brevity of the work and the lack of resolution I think this is a perfect vehicle for a description of youth. There is no defining moment in any of us where we can say we have arrived at adulthood. It’s not a matter of initiation but of self-realisation and that is paced differently for us all. For some it can take decades. This was the strength of the novel for me.

I felt very close to “John” and not least because that’s my first name. I related to his insecurities, to his fears and to his constant self-questioning. I wish he’d written this two decades before he did and that I’d had it available to me just as I was leaving school. It would have been much more important to me then. Nevertheless, it was a very good read and has spurred me on to read more of Coetzee. ( )
  arukiyomi | Dec 31, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Coetzee, J. M.Authorprimary 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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:54 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The narrator of Youth, a student in the South Africa of the 1950s, has long been plotting an escape from his native country: from the stifling love of his mother, from a father whose failures haunt him, and from what he is sure is impending revolution. Studying mathematics, reading poetry, saving money, he tries to ensure that when he arrives in the real world, wherever that may be, 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. An awkward colonial, a constitutional outsider, he begins a dark pilgrimage in which he is continually tested and continually found wanting.--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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