Best Age of Iron By J.M. Coetzee –

Breakdown of interpersonal relationships, values and family Ruthlessness and exclusion, pervasive cult of strength and youth We all are living in the age of iron This novel is like a cry of despair Coetzee speaks with the voice of a dying woman, gradually disinherited from her body, home and country, excluded from the title age of iron, from the age of the young and the strong He writes about disintegration of the body and mind and decline of morality Stigmatizes abomination of apartheid painting a landscape of violence and hatred.But at the same time it is a parable of love The classics professor and homeless tramp It is hard to imaginemismatched pair Novel, written in the form of letter to daughter no offers any easy consolation Love is neither triumphant nor soothing feeling Love is an obligationOne must love what is nearest One must love what is to hand, as a dog loves. In Cape Town, South Africa, An Old Woman Is Dying Of Cancer A Classics Professor, Mrs Curren Has Been Opposed To The Lies And Brutality Of Apartheid All Her Life, But Has Lived Insulated From Its True Horrors Now She Is Suddenly Forced To Come To Terms With The Iron Hearted Rage That The System Has Wrought In An Extended Letter Addressed To Her Daughter, Who Has Long Since Fled To America, Mrs Curren Recounts The Strange Events Of Her Dying Days She Witnesses The Burning Of A Nearby Black Township And Discovers The Bullet Riddled Body Of Her Servant S Son A Teenage Black Activist Hiding In Her House Is Killed By Security Forces And Through It All, Her Only Companion, The Only Person To Whom She Can Confess Her Mounting Anger And Despair, Is A Homeless Man, An Alcoholic, Who One Day Appears On Her Doorstep Brilliantly Crafted And Resonant With Metaphor, Age Of Iron Is A Superbly Realized Novel Whose Truths Cut To The Bone The New York Times Book Review At the end, when it s time to cross over, what form will the angel take And will you still see it all clearly Mrs Curren lives alone in South Africa Her husband left her many years ago and has since died Her daughter left too, gone to America, promising never to return to the troubled land So Mrs Curren is quite alone when she finds out she has cancer and will soon die That same day, she finds a vagrant outside her house, reeking of urine and decay, sleeping off a drunk under plastic and cardboard.So, Mrs Curren writes a long letter to her daughter, a real time letter mostly, a four movement symphony in a minor key She invites the vagrant, Mr Vercueil, into her home He will test her, with his foul smell, his alcoholism, his bluntness but he promises, reluctantly, and not convincingly, that he will mail the letter after she is gone.Mrs Curren writes We embrace to be embraced.And Mrs Curren writes We sicken before we die so that we will be weaned from our bodies.And Heaven I imagine heaven as a hotel lobby with a high ceiling and the Art of Fugue coming softly over the public address system Where one can sit in a deep leather armchair and be without pain A hotel lobby full of old people dozing, listening to the music, while souls pass and repass before them like vapors, the souls of all A place dense with souls Clothed Yes, clothed, I suppose but with empty hands A place to which you bring nothing but an abstract kind of clothing and the memories inside you, the memories that make you A place without incident A railway station after the abolition of trains Listening to the heavenly unending music, waiting for nothing, paging idly through the store of memories.So, if Bach is played in heaven, what about I am afraid of going to hell and having to listen to Die stemfor all eternity I think I was about eleven years old when my teacher wrote the word Thanksgiving on the blackboard how appropriately seasonal of me and instructed us to take 15 minutes and try to write down all the words we could create out of the letters in that large word You know, like thank, thanks, in, giving, etc Now it turns out that like all great idiot savants I can do one thing unusually well It would have been nice if my talent was playing the piano or memorizing playing cards in blackjack But no, my talent was creating words out of the letters of Thanksgiving Not exactly the kind of cocktail party trick which can get one laid I had filled several pages when the time ended Instead of praise, however, the teacher was genuinely pissed and accused me of cheating Which, I thought un Christian of Sister Mary William I ll bet she hated Rainman, if she ever got to watch it.I mention this personal quirk because, although good perhaps at that one useless thing, I fairly suck at anagrams Coetzee asks the reader to consider anagrams for three characters Mrs Curren, Mr Vercueil, and Mr Thabane I came up blank, so any help that someone good at anagramming can render would be appreciated I do know that at one point Coetzee dashes off words made from Vercueil which are apt and no coincidence live, cure, veil I liked that I ve read other works of Coetzee, including his Booker winning Disgrace, but was largely underwhelmed.This, though This is good. Bambini di ferro, ho pensato Florence, lei stessa di ferro L et del ferro Dopodich segue l et del bronzo.Quanto, quanto tempo ci vorr ancora, prima che ritornino secondo il loro ciclo ere pi tranquille, l et dell argilla, l et della terra Una matrona sparatana, dal cuore di ferro, che concepisce alla nazione figli guerrieri Siamo orgogliosi di loro Noi Torna a casa con lo scudo oppure sopra lo scudo.E io Da che parte sta il mio cuore in tutto questo La mia unica figlia lontana migliaia di chilometri, al sicuro, presto io sar cenere e fumo, e allora cosa significa per me che venuto il tempo in cui i bambini disprezzano l infanzia, in cui i bambini si addestrano a vicenda a non sorridere mai, a non piangere mai, a sollevare i pugni in aria come martelli Sudafrica siamo in pieno periodo dell apartheid, separazione che brutta parola Un anziana signora sola scopre di essere malata gravemente e di non avere pi tanto da vivere e in quello stesso giorno incontra per caso un uomo, un perdigiorno, un ubriacone, un diseredato e una scintilla scocca nella mente della signora Allora prende la decisione di scrivere una lunga lettera per la sua unica figlia, ormai lontana, per raccontarlePrimo romanzo letto dell autore ed stata una lettura di una intensit , a tratti insopportabile , un emozionalit mai letta e provata prima, in un opera letteraria Avrei voluto ritrascrivere per intero tutto il romanzo, ogni parola, ogni frase uno spunto di riflessione, una freccia dritta al cuore Non si pu rimanere indifferenti ad opere di questo calibro Nobel per la letteratura Credo, anzi sono sicuro sia meritatissimo, vero che il primo libro che leggo, ma basterebbe solo questo a decretare Coetzee uno scrittore formidabileTucidide ha scritto di gente che ha fissato delle regole e le ha rispettate Seguendo le regole essi hanno condannato a morte varie categorie di nemici, senza eccezione Quelli che morivano sentivano, che si stava compiendo un errore Una parola di protesta io, l eccezione.Erano davvero l eccezione La verit che se ci venisse concesso il tempo di spiegare, tutti saremmo pronti a dichiararci eccezioni Perch ciascuno di noi un caso a s Tutti meritiamo il beneficio del dubbio La televisione Perch la guardo Tutte le sere la sfilata dei politici mi basta vedere quelle grosse facce inespressive, cos familiari dai giorni dell infanzia, per sentirmi depressa e nauseata Ci che li assorbe il potere e la fascinazione del potere E il loro messaggio stupidamente uguale, stupidamente uguale in eterno La loro prodezza, sta nell aver fatto della stupidit una virt https watch v 0TC If Coetzee s Disgrace is at least partly a meditation on the title word, this earlier novel seems to be partly a musing on the word stupefy Television the parade of politicians every evening their message stupidly unchanging Their feat, after years of etymological meditation on the word, to have raised stupidity to a virtue To stupefy to deprive of feeling to benumb, deaden to stun with amazement Stupid dulled in the faculties, indifferent, destitute of thought or feeling From stupere to be stunned, astounded A gradient from stupid to stunned to astonished, to be turned to stone A message that turns people to stone Boars that devour their offspring The Boar War.The almost unnamed narrator seeming to be a forerunner of Coetzee s later alter ego Elizabeth Costello rails against stupefaction and fights it from within, but realizes its inevitability as she increasingly needsandpills to numb the pain of her cancer.Her inner journey is a Dantean one, though we are also taken into an actual inferno The relevance of young teenage boys dying at the hands of Authority was not lost on me She is our Virgil, but she has her own Virgil, whose appearance on the day she receives the bad news from her doctor she takes as a sign.She is wordy She knows her Latin and ancient Roman history she wonders about possible anagrams of the names of battles and medications as she falls into temporary stupor Borodino, Diconal I stare at the words Are they anagrams They look like anagrams But for what, and in what languageBorodino an anagram for Come back in some language or other Diconal I call. The dialogue she reports seems unrealistic in its wordiness, but the conceit of the whole novel a letter to her daughter, living in North America covers that possible flaw Though I haven t read all of Coetzee, I wonder if this is perhaps his most straightforward novel. Dunque senza dolore niente scrittura una nuova terribile regola Lo stesso giorno in cui il dottor Syfret mi ha comunicato la notizia Una brutta notiziaLo stesso giorno Mrs Curren un insegnante in pensione comincia a scrivere alla figlia emigrata negli Stati Uniti.Lo stesso giorno in cui scopre che nel vialetto di fianco al garage un vagabondo ha allestito la sua dimora di cartoni e teli di plastica.Lo stesso giorno in cui inizia ad accorgersi che tutto si sta sgretolandol ora del fuoco, ora di farla finita ora che nasca ci che dalla cenere pu nascere Con un movimento speculare si assiste all avanzare di un male che divora dentro il corpo come fosse una gestazione maligna Allo stesso modo procede a macchia d olio quel processo distruttivo che si nutre di odio, ovvero, l elemento fondante della nazione sud africana.Mrs Curren diventa testimone dell avanzare di quelle nuove generazioni cariche di rabbia che s immolano a riscattare orgogli feritiQuesta storia non privata, signora Curren Lo sa bene Non c pi niente di privato Coetzee ritorna al tema fondamentale della Storia che entra nelle singole esistenze scardinando con prepotenza ogni tentativo di non essere testimoni si costretti a guardare e a vivere nel disagio di essere complici indiretti di antiche colpe.E la vergogna il cardineEcco il ruolo della vergogna era un punto di riferimento, qualcosa che restava sempre al suo posto, qualcosa verso cui poter tornare, come un cieco, qualcosa da toccare, che ti indicasse il punto in cui ti trovavi Per il resto ho mantenuto una discreta distanza dal mio senso di vergogna Non ho esagerato La vergogna non mai diventata un piacere indecente non ha mai smesso di mordermi Non ne ero orgogliosa, me ne vergognavo La mia vergogna, solo mia Cenere nella mia bocca giorno dopo giorno dopo giorno, che non ha mai smesso di avere il sapore della cenere. Ogni volta che finisco di leggere un libro di Coetzee mi riprometto di prendere le distanze da questo autore.Distanze, s Intervalli temporali che mi consentano di riprendere il mio naturale ritmo di respiro perch non c dubbio che ci che ha scritto e come lo ha scritto mi toglie letteralmente il fiato Non un eufemismo ci sono passaggi di lettura che mi bloccano il respiro.Ma c di piIl complimento pi straordinario che si possa fare a uno scrittore Ho letto un libro che avrei voluto scrivere io Oppure Ha detto quello che io pensavo da sempre Oh s , questa decisamente la cosa pi bella che si possa dire a uno scrittore Vuol dire che quello scrittore ha reso universale un esperienza personaleManuale di lettura creativa di Marcello Fois Ecco questo mi succede con Coetzee mi toglie il fiato perch dice esattamente quello che penso e nel modo in cui mi sarebbe piaciuto dirlo.C una straordinaria sinergia tra un contenuto gi di per s forte ed una carica semantica che ha dell esplosivo. DisgraceDisgraceThough it came unbidden, though it filled me with distaste, I considered the thought without flinching He and I pressed breast to breast, eyes closed, going down the old road together Unlikely companions Like travelling in a bus in Sicily, pressed face to face, body to body against a strange man Perhaps that is what the afterlife will be like not a lobby with armchairs and music but a great crowded bus on its way from nowhere to nowhere Standing room only on one s feet forever, crushed against strangers The air thick, stale, full of sighs and murmurs Sorry, sorry Promiscuous contact Forever under the gaze of others An end to private life Promiscuous contact. E un romanzo sotto forma di lettera indirizzata alla figlia, emigrata negli USA e quindi persa per sempre, da una anziana e colta signora, affetta da un cancro terminale, nella povert del Sudafrica oppresso dall apartheid.Una riflessione sulla solitudine, sulla responsabilit di aver contribuito a creare, seppur passivamente, una societ violenta e ingiusta, sul tempo che usura corpi e cose, e sul destino dello spirito Una prosa magnifica che offre una lettura profonda, drammatica, inquietante, piena di rabbia, di disperazione, ma anche con un gran fondo di speranzafacile amare un bambino, ma com difficile amare quello in cui il bambino si trasforma Un tempo, con i pugni stretti sulle orecchie e gli occhi serrati nell estasi, anche lui fluttuava nel ventre di una donna, suggeva il suo sangue, la pelle contro la sua Anche lui passato attraverso quel cancello di ossa al bagliore di fuori, anche a lui stato concesso di conoscere l a materno, amor matris Poi, nel corso del tempo, ne stato escluso, costretto a camminare da solo, ha cominciato a inaridirsi, a curvarsi, a indebolirsi. Il pi duro tra i romanzi di Coetzee che ho letto violento e profondamente inquietante, un gioiello della narrativa Coetzee dimostra perentoriamente d essere uno dei pochi uomini capaci di scrivere attraverso gli occhi di una donna, impressionante. An early novel in Coetzee s list of achievements, Age of Iron, depicts the author s distaste for apartheid, the revolution against it, and gives prescient hints of what was to come of South Africa after Mandela Coetzee has always seemed to this reader an idealist, harping eloquently against human imperfections and the flawed institutions created by such faulty people But he s always seemed to know this about himself, and he s made obvious attempts in his fiction to resolve this inner conflict In Age of Iron, such contradictions couldn t beapparent.His protagonist here is a Mrs Curren, a former classics professor suffering a terminal case of cancer, who has always looked down on both apartheid and the struggle against it from her academic ivory tower Now, however, the mud and blood of the struggle grasp her personally, and they won t let go Her housekeeper, Florence, has a young son, Bheki, who has involved himself in the revolution s rising violence He disappears and Mrs Curren offers to help Florence find him This takes them into a poor black community that is being burned out by the police, as if to exterminate rats Bheki has been shot dead, they quickly discover, and Mrs Curren now faces the life and death reality of the struggle Too, she s seen as unwelcome in that place, both by the white policemen and the poor black residents She begins to realize a suppressed alienation rising to her surface, an alienation that allows her no emotional refuge from either the social conflict or her disease Then there s Vercueil an alcoholic hobo and, if he can be believed, an ex trawler sailor who was hurt in a shipboard accident, rendering him unable to work He becomes Mrs Curren s alter ego, a sometimes mute sounding board, who is willing to help her end her lifewilling that she is, however.To Mrs Curren, she and the likes of other whites in South Africa are floss, mere visitors hovering over the African soil Florence, Bheki, and their kind are a kinf of iron fragile of body, but ofdurable stuff soul wise This then is Coetzee s metaphor that the most durable souls seem to be the most set upon in the flesh This book doesn t take sides in the struggle to throw off apartheid instead it summons us to the view that South Africa could have been saved at one time, but now, with the first shots having been fired, it s too late for all that.If there s one flaw to the book it s the diminished role of Vercueil He could have played the truth dealing drunkard to Mrs Curren s indignation, her ivory towered view of life in that torn country He has moments of this, to be sure, but he could have been much .