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A lost life in a lost land
on 5 May 2010
The main character in this naturalistic novel is a young woman, despised by her father, who never forgave his wife for failing to bear him a son: `Wooed when we were little by our masterful fathers, we are bitter vestals, spoiled for life. The childhood rape'.
While her father is a pure example of `the psychology of masters', she symbolizes `the heart of the country', `this bare land where people live naked beneath each other's hawkeyes, but live so under protest. Our resentment of each other, though buried in our breasts, sometimes rises to choke us.'
The hearth of the country is `a forsaken land full of melancholic spinsters lost to history.'
The young woman dreams of redemption by marriage to another lost soul, `though it would not astonish me if I were barren.'
When her father chooses a new black wife, she becomes `a black widow spider and engulfs whoever passes in her venom.' Even the black servants have to leave her, for everybody lives in this part of the world outside the law, therefore live only by the law they recognize in themselves. `This part of the world is naked in every direction to the eye of the hunter; he who cannot burrow is lost.'
But, `why do I not run away from the farm and die in civilization?' Because `I am corrupted to the bone with the beauty of this forsaken world. It takes generations of life to drive that nostalgia for country ways from the heart.'
In this raw picture of `a district outside the law' with its violent outer and inner confrontations between father and daughter, black and white, master and slave, virginity and longing for sexual intercourse, hate and melancholy, city and countryside, lawlessness and civilization, freedom and boredom and ultimately life and death, J.M. Coetzee portrayed a doomed land dominated by people who were obsessed only by the past.
Highly recommended to all lovers of world literature.