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The Life and Times of Michael K
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 26. Juni 2000
A stunning novel but not for the faint of heart. Here are all the horrors of war, but presented on a microcosmic scale that doesn't allow the reader to substitute ultimately cold statistics (x million dead, for example) for the true havoc wreaked on an individual-by-individual basis. Statistics go down easier, and are easier to ignore; in contrast, the trajectory of the protagonist's life here is so heartbreaking as to be beyond sadness -- it changes the way you think about things. War is everywhere in this novel, yet nowhere; we encounter few soldiers and no battles, but the South Africa described here is ravaged seemingly beyond repair. It is nearly impossible to do justice to the merit and value of this book, and to Coetzee's razor-sharp focus; he says more in this short novel than lesser writers could with an ocean of words.
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 6. September 1996
I really enjoyed this slim volume of survival on the
edges on a surreal post-civil war RSA. Michael K.'s
attempts to escape the brutality & degradation he
sees around him lead to an exploration of what we really
require to survive. Coetzee's commentary on a continually
intrusive civilization applies not only to the RSA in his
not-so-distant future (the book was written while apartheid
was still very much in force)but to all environments in
which society interferes with a personal and private attempt
to live independently. Buy, borrow, or steal this book.
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am 7. April 2000
Having heard the name, "J.M. Coetzee," dropped at a Cambridge dog-park, a fine place to listen for an elusive literary reference or amusing, critical waltz, I sought after this author, "the nape of good hope," as he was praisingly referred to by a man with all the poor nature of his notoriously ill-intentioned mix-of-poodle. Smiles of pure generosity; few understood his meaning at the time. Well, turns out, there was little hope allowed for in the persistently unsentimental treatment of both character and action in "Life and Times...," but much, however, contained in the sight and stylistic mastery of its author, Coetzee. One hears Coetzee accused of a kind of provinciality; I do not know -- but, I certainly think: dear god, not here. An author so able to give a simple, though elegant, philosophical meaning to the life and bad circumstance of such an assumedly vulgar typicality as Michael K is due a massive hats-off. In the absence of humor or ironic caricature is the stark progression of a gardener through territory made infertile for it. This telling is a third-person, as they say, omniscient account; but nonetheless we are most often peering about through the dull eyes of Michael, though not from his unfathoming conscience, at catastrophe. The view is as oppressive as the worst hour on the Warner Brothers Network though in its sureness-fired. Instead of commercially absurd, it is cruelly convincing in its work-a-day insufferability. Hats-off to its author; although I wonder who in this day will labor such a stolid voice as his. Nevermind it, good art here, Coetzee is champion.
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am 29. August 1999
Michael K is by most people's reckoning a subnormally endowed specimen of a human being - physically and mentally handicapped, he appears to be no more than one of life's cruel failures. It is only his indomitable spirit and courage which has helped him endure constant hardship and ultimately transcend human suffering brought upon by South Africa's apartheid regime. At one level, the story seems to be about the victory of spiritual and morale courage over man's cruelty. Just as Michael's natural otherworldliness served as a protective cloak against life's slings and arrows, Coetzee seems to be telling us to take heart and emulate Michael - if such a sorry human specimen can prevail against all odds, so can we. At another level, the story seems to me to be about the independence or autonomy of the human spirit from the realities of social and political life. Through the eyes of soldiers and other conscious members of society, we see a crumbling social order and chaos everywhere. Everything touched by them is, as it were, defiled and rendered foul. Only in Michael's makebelieve world does he still find his private space and food still fit for human consumption. Coetzee's slim novel makes for compelling reading. His message is simple but powerful and uplifting.
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 10. Januar 2000
I have both read & taught Michael K. and consider it a privilege & stroke of luck to be alive at the same time as J. M. Coetzee. He is deeply serious; he cuts himself & his reader no slack, which is the greatest gift a writer can bestow.
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3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 19. Mai 2000
The first thing I've read by Coetzee, and a really beautiful book. Less a "traditional" novel than a fable, it is probably not for the casual reader: it is a book of ideas, it moves slowly and requires careful reading. But it has so much to say about what it means to be human; and about man's relationship to the earth, to society, and to himself. Give it a try, and if you do, stick with it to the end. The meaning of the story reveals itself, but it goes at its own pace.
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am 28. Oktober 1999
In Coetzee's novel, Michael K. is the embodiment of apartheid aggression and brutality heaped on the black man. Powerful writing manifests itself in Coetzee's minds-eye of time and place. At the end of the story when Michael K. wanders the beach barely clothed and dying from starvation it showed that the apartheid era left nothing more and nothing less than the skeletal remains of the black man. As a side note to this, since at the time of this writing Coetzee had just received the Booker prize for DISGRACE; it makes me wonder if any of the journalist questioners read any of his other books. He was asked why DISGRACE is so dark. Darkness is at the heart of his writing as in Michael K. or Dostoevsky's descent into madness or an elderly white woman's suffering from cancer whose friendship with a black man ends with her suicide assisted death.
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am 29. Januar 2014
Written at a time that Apartheid was still very strong, Coetzee came up with a philosophical account of life in that environment, which in this case is a surreal post-civil war South Africa with all the horrors that come with the aftermath of a civil war, especially an African civil war. However, Michael K. makes the effort to shield himself from the harshness of his environment by taking on a life of existential survival. In fact the lesson from this book applies to all environments or situations where society makes it difficult for a private person to live a personal life that is independent of the forces of the environment. Other recommended reads are Disciples of Fortune, Disgrace, The Usurper and Other Stories. I like books like this for the thought-provoking and insightful nature of the story.
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am 13. Februar 2000
.. that has nothing to do with apartheid. A lot of the reviewers have focused on the 'apartheid brutality' aspect of this book. Civil war South Africa (by the way for the uninitiated - this is ficticious - there is/was no civil war) merely supplies the backdrop for the story of Michael and how he sees past all of this. It is a book that could have been set anywhere in the world (in turmoil) and still been as valid.
This is a deeply uplifting book that is well worth a read (particularly since it is so short you'll be done in an afternoon)
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am 1. September 1999
I had to read this for a college class, and as short as it is, I probably wouldn't have finished it if I didn't have to. Considering Coetzee is one of SA's most respected current novelists, I was very sorry I didn't enjoy it as much as I had expected I would. I probably should try some of his other novels, but his writing style just doesn't appeal to me enough.
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