Youth Paperback – 6 Feb 2003
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"Brilliant...a remarkable feat" (Sunday Times)
"Only a writer as great as J. M. Coetzee is capable of infusing meditation on the spoilt hope of youth with such clarity, fluency and poise... The quality of the writing and its unflinching truthfulness make it exhilarating" (Daily Mail)
"This taut novel possesses the edgy grace that has consistently marked Coetzee's work" (Irish Times)
"Tightly woven, each line detonating with meaning" (Glasgow Herald)
"A memorable picture of the harshness London can offer to incomers... Youth is a wonderful book: a Bildungsroman, or portrait of the artist as a young man, to rank with any in the canon" (Evening Standard)
'One of the finest authors writing in the English language today' The TimesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Youth is not a book in which very much happens - and that's because it's a book about real life. The real life of a young man finding his feet in an alien country. But the beauty of Youth is not something as mundane as excitement (any book can give you that), it's the truthfulness of the book (I should know: see paragraph 1). It is the most well-realised book I've read in ages, and in its nuances it contains more feeling than library-fuls of other books.
I guess what I'm saying is that you'll either love it - or be bored silly by it. I loved it. Which is fortunate since it seems so much to be the story of my life.
He may not be everyone's cup of tea but I think I am beginning to understand why he was made a Nobel laureate. If you already like Coetzee then I would guess that you will love Youth. If you don't know Coetzee this book is a good place to start to understand a true master of the English language.
'Youth' gets to the heart of the confusion facing a young man torn between worldly constraint and artistic ambition. The everyday dilemmas and insecurities he faces occupy his time more and more as he searches for some kind of grander purpose or secret of artistic success. This is a book that will hypnotize those who have ever found themselves questioning their own life-choices. As the protagonist feels his destiny slowly escaping him, we are left, not with feelings of hopelessness, but with a profound and motivating lesson about the futility of neuroticism and inaction. A wonderful book.
Perhaps I didn't 'get' it ??
It is a flight from the oppressiveness of his family and the love of his mother - `the bond with the firstborn' -, from the socio-political situation in South-Africa - `an albatross around his neck' - and from mortgage shackles. In one word, it is a flight to freedom.
He arrives in London, but the city turns him into a beaten dog: no work, no stay. He quickly understands that the struggle for life is still going on, that he will have to find his place in the world and that he has to prove that he belongs to this earth.
Intellectually, he is attracted to Pure Thought (mathematics), but he also wants to become a poet. He makes his first encounters (through reading and radio programs) with world literature, e.g. Joseph Brodsky who teaches him that `poetry is truth'.
Sentimentally, he has to fight against his own depths of coldness, callousness, caddishness, his lack of heat and heart. He falls in love with filmdivas, but his own love (better: sex) life is not that of a `fine' author.
In impeccable prose, J.M. Coetzee painted without any shame a very realistic picture of a `Youth-struggle'.
Not to be missed.
John, however, is the main problem with 'Youth' as a novel. Whilst it is understandable of Coetzee to depict the frustrations and anger of the thwarted intellectual, in 'Youth', his protagonist is a frustrating, contradictory, annoyingly hyperbolic, and worse than all of that - downright dull, narrator. Coetzee's incessant channeling of the book's major themes, through the arrogant John, is not simply a case of giving us an unreliable narrator, it is a case of giving us a largely useless one; a narrator whom constantly divulges into in-depth analyses of Ezra Pound's poetry, whilst he unrealistically (and perhaps misogyny can be leveled at Coetzee, here) seems, without possessing any charm, to be able to bed all manner of women, at ease.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Youth", which appeared in 2002, is both a novel and a fictionalised autobiography. It draws heavily on the author's own experience of young manhood: but it isn't necessary for the... Read morePublished on 8 May 2013 by Paul Bowes
This is the story: upon finishing university in Cape Town, wanting to escape the tensions in South Africa (it's 1960 or thereabouts) the youth of the title moves to London, where... Read morePublished on 22 Aug. 2010 by Phil O'Sofa
I found Coetzee's English usage most interesting, with some sentences to relish. But, the paragraphs were less interesting. Read morePublished on 8 Mar. 2010 by Lewis Duckworth
This book by South African writer J. M. Coetzee is not exactly an autobiography, as it recounts a few years of his life, from about the time he was 19 to his mid 20s, during the... Read morePublished on 13 Nov. 2008 by Andres C. Salama
Just a lazy few words to describe this book: Joyless, tedious, depressing, bleak, humorless...climaxing with the statement I wish I hadn't bothered to read it. Read morePublished on 10 Dec. 2007 by Riddley
This is not my Top pick when it comes to Coetzee, although I am very happy to have read it. It's apparant total lack of climax makes the small events seem so much bigger and... Read morePublished on 8 Aug. 2006 by M. K. Enhorning
No question that this book brings out the melancholy in all of us with literary pretensions who have sat typing numbers into computers for years. Read morePublished on 9 Aug. 2004 by RichinLeeds