Inner Workings

Inner Workings

Literary Essays, 2000-2005

Book - 2008
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Following on from Stranger Shores , which contained J.M. Coetzee's essays from 1986 to 1999, Inner Workings gathers together his literary essays from 2000 to 2005.

Of the writers discussed in the first half of the book, several - Italo Svevo, Joseph Roth, Bruno Schulz, Sandor Marai - lived through the Austro-Hungarian fin de si#65533;cle and felt the influence of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Freud. Coetzee further explores the work of six of twentieth-century German literature's greatest writers: Robert Musil, Robert Walser, Walter Benjamin (the Arcades Project), Joseph Roth, Gunter Grass, W.G. Sebald, and the poet Paul Celan in his 'wrestlings with the German language'.

There is an essay on Graham Greene's Brighton Rock and on the short fiction of Samuel Beckett, a writer whom Coetzee has long admired. American literature is strongly represented from Walt Whitman, through William Faulkner, Saul Bellow and Arthur Miller to Philip Roth. Coetzee rounds off the collection with essays on three fellow Nobel laureates: Nadine Gordimer, Gabriel Garc#65533;a M#65533;rquez and V.S. Naipaul.

Publisher: London : Vintage Books, 2008
ISBN: 9780099506140
Branch Call Number: PB 809 Coetz 3564
Characteristics: xiv, 304 p


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RogerDeBlanck Jul 27, 2018

With the pieces in Inner Workings (Coetzee’s second volume of literary essays after Stranger Shores), he examines the work of a wide range of writers, past and contemporary, ranging from Europe to the Americas. As was the style and scope of Stranger Shores, the critiques and discussions in this collection are accessible, but challenging at times in their erudition. Coetzee showcases his inquisitive mind for analysis and interpretation throughout these pieces. He raises questions that reveal his surefooted understanding of the lives of writers and an intense interaction with their works. He writes with flawless command of subjects, whether it is psychology, history, or some other field or discipline pertinent to his study. He is masterful at describing and summarizing texts, but also brilliant at uncovering deeper meanings. The sum total of each essay is fascinating in its discussion of literary figures and their works. As a former Nobel recipient, Coetzee views literature as more than stories. For him, it is the creative process of shaping reality by exposing and illuminating truths. In this way, he exalts the art of literature as a system that functions to identify, investigate, and ultimately change reality. These essays show how this process of change links inseparably with a writer’s experiences.

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