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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The great world and its concerns, 18 May 2008
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doubling the Point: Essays and Interviews (Paperback)
This book covers as diverse subjects as sports (rugby's political importance in South-Africa), pop culture (`Captain America as a great flag-wrapped phallus'), advertising (creating identifications and associations in the consumer), linguistics and postmodern theories (`The Rhetoric of the Passive in English'), comments on censorship (`The Taint of the Pornographic'), personal remembrances (Coetzee's US years as a student) and reviews of other writer's work (Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Rousseau, Musil, Kafka, D.H. Lawrence, A. Fugard, N. Gordimer, S. Beckett, B. Breytenbach, A. La Guma and others).

It shows were J.M. Coetzee stood as a writer and as an individual at the end of the 1980s, just before the publication of one of his masterpieces `Age of Iron'.

Contrary to another writer who dissects during 43 pages his dominant feeling of nothingness (in a period of war!!!), the morass of linguistics (as an important philosopher remarked: linguistics equals the cleaning of one's spectacles) didn't turn J.M. Coetzee from `the great world and its concerns'. He took to heart G. Lukácz's position on realism: `one's first duty as a writer is to express social and historical processes; drawing the procedures of representation into question is time-wasting.'
An author should express `the truth as he sees it'. He `must take freedom from the public conformity of political interpretations, morals and tastes.' Therefore, he must be against censorship and its alleged function of protecting the State, a community, a society.
While others continued to be stuck in the morass, J. M. Coetzee tackled essential human problems as individual, political and social violence, sexuality, racism, dictatorship, justice, political monopolies, colonialism, human destiny (child, youth, aging and death) and the function of writing itself, head-on.

I have only a few comments on this thought-provoking book.
The world doesn't behave as mathematics predict it. As J. von Neumann said: `mathematical formulation necessarily represents only a theory of some phase (aspects) of reality, and not reality itself.'
Philosophically speaking, truth is correspondence with the facts (A. Tarski), with what happened, happens and will happen. Dreams, thoughts, wishes ... are also facts. There is no endless series of supplements that defers the truth.

This book is a must read for all Coetzee fans and lovers of world literature.

N.B. Some texts on censorship have been reprinted in Coetzee's `Giving Offense'.
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Doubling the Point: Essays and Interviews
Doubling the Point: Essays and Interviews by J M Coetzee (Paperback - 2 Sept. 1992)
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