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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essays of the highest order, 28 Nov. 2007
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stranger Shores: Essays 1986-1999 (Paperback)
J. M. Coetzee delves deep into the (hidden) soul of the authors and their work reviewed in these splendid essays. Many novels are (or will become) `classics', in Coetzee's words, `works of art which retain meaning for succeeding ages and which continue to `live''.

Daniel Defoe is an author eclipsed by one of his creations (Robinson Crusoe).
The `Four Quartets' of T.S. Eliot are an attempt to give a historical backing for a radical conservative program for a Europe of nation-states with the Catholic Church as the principal supranational organization.
Samuel Richardson's `Clarissa' is a fight on two fronts. A social one: Clarissa is a member of a powerful family and bringing her down would bring down her family. A gender one: the virtue in women is not proof against the traitorous sexual desire which a skilful seducer can arouse.
Cees Nooteboom is an intelligent traveler, but nevertheless part of the tourism industry.
In `A posthumous confession', Marcellus Emants turns a confession of a worthless life into a work of art.
R.M. Rilke's doctrine excuses all sins except those against Art.
F. M. Dostoevsky conducts a searching interrogation of the `Reason of the Enlightenment'.
The eccentric J. Brodsky elevates prosody to metaphysical status. He despairs of politics and looks to literature for redemption.
For J.L. Borges, the poetic imagination enables the writer to join the universal creative principle. This principle has the nature of Will rather than Reason (Schopenhauer).
A. Oz escapes the intolerance and intransigence which have marred the public face of Israel.
N. Mahfouz's main concern is to link private virtue with civic justice.
D. Lessing explores the mystery of the self and the destiny it elects.
For N. Gordimer, the artist has a special calling. His art tells a truth transcending the truth of history. The goal of art is to transform society and reunite what has been put asunder.
B. Breytenbach's credo is to be against the norm, hegemony, the State and power.

These formidable essays contain also comments on the problems of translation (F. Kafka) and the media (the camera has no ideology: it will lie on behalf of whoever points it and presses the button.
Africa - a continent abused, exploited and patronized by foreigners - is still in the aftershock of colonialism. It is now confronted with hard choices between economic stagnation coupled with a fast rising birth rate or un-African Western science and technology, rationalism, materialism, the profit motive, the cult of the individual and the nuclear family.

These model reviews written by a superb free mind, are a must read for all literature students and lovers of world literature.
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Stranger Shores: Essays 1986-1999
Stranger Shores: Essays 1986-1999 by J M Coetzee (Paperback - 1 Aug. 2002)
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