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"Foe", a hypnotizing portrait of human turbulence
on 7 March 2012
"Foe" begins like an epic poem requiring all six senses to tune in. Our protagonist is a young woman struggling to survive. She fascinates like a spider constructing her web. Her rhythmic motions, her sensual fiber, her instinctive powers and her appetite for natural beauty guide the scene with all its vital ingredients--terror, exhaustion, suspicion, satisfaction, failure, passion, anger, triumph. With the completion of the web, in all its silky and resilient perfection, the reader exalts in the young woman's victory, but not for long.
This is not a straightforward story. The reader has fallen into the web or so it seems. Frustration at first irritates and then infuriates. The memory of a beautiful tale drifts out of focus. Truth evades. The reader, overcome by his incapacity to react wraps himself in a sticky state of inertia--a frail observer of a ever more vanishing truth. But not all webs are constructed to trap a prey. Spiders sometimes simply gloat with the pleasure over a perfect exercise.
And so very slowly after the mental anguish there comes the relaxed appreciation of an unreachable beauty, a truth suspended forever in time like John Keats' lovers on a Grecian urn. "Forever wilt thou love and she be fair!" A vision of an unattainable success.
J. M. Coetzee deserves a poet's laurel wreath for this hypnotizing portrait of human turbulence. I highly recommend J.M. Coetzee's "Foe".