JM Coetzee: Life and Times of Michael K

Simon Norfolk

Simon Norfolk

This Coetzee novel, though far from a favourite, stimulates the same thought inspired by reading Beckett and Dante: perhaps I should read only this, only Coetzee, or only Beckett. To read one writer’s oeuvre so deeply, sentence by sentence, that it becomes engrained.

Though I relished most of Life and Times of Michael K, I was impervious to the second part, narrated by a medical officer that attempts to restore Michael K to health. In this section, though the allusion is subtle, Coetzee drifts into a spiritual journey allegory, adopting a messiah/simpleton analogy.

Michaels, forgive me for the way I treated you, I did not appreciate who you were till the last days. Forgive me too for following you like this. I promise not to be a burden.

It is impossible to ignore the symmetry  between Michael K and Kafka’s Josef K. Coetzee’s fiction often reveals Kafka’s presence in the shadows, but perhaps more overtly in Life and Times of Michael K with its idiot savant motif.

3 thoughts on “JM Coetzee: Life and Times of Michael K

  1. I have read nearly everything by Coetzee. I love his work. There’s something new in it every time you reread one of his novels.

  2. Pingback: Beckett’s Secret | Time's Flow Stemmed

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