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.