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J.M. Coetzee quotes (showing 61-90 of 253)

“He would not mind hearing Petrus’s story one day. But preferably not reduced to English. More and more he is convinced that English is an unfit medium for the truth of South Africa.”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“Temperament is fixed, set. The skull, followed by the temperament: the two hardest parts of the body. Follow your temperament. It is not a philosophy, It is a rule, like the Rule of St Benedict.”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“The truth is, he tired of criticism, tired of prose measured by the yard."

--Disgrace”
J.M. Coetzee
“That was why, later on, he began to lose interest in photography: first when colour took over, then when it became plain that the old magic of light-sensitive emulsions was waning, that to the rising generation the enchantment lay in a techne of images without substance, images that could flash through the ether without residing anywhere, that could be sucked into a machine and emerge from it doctored, untrue. He gave up recording the world in photographs then, and transferred his energies to saving the past.”
J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man
“Craniul,si apoi temperamentul:cele mai solide parti din corpul omenesc.”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“He even knew the reason why: because enough men had gone off to war saying the time for gardening was when the war was over; whereas there must be men to stay behind and keep gardening alive, or at least the idea of gardening; because once that cord was broken, the earth would grow hard and forget her children. That was why.”
J.M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K
“Schmerz ist Wahrheit; alles andere wird angezweifelt.”
J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
“There is no position outside of reason where you can stand and lecture about reason and pass judgment on reason.”
J.M. Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello
“Restoration is a skilled profession. You might even call it an art in its own right, except that it is frowned on to be original. First rule of restoration: follow the intention of the artist. Never try to improve on him.”
J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man
“It seemed to me that all things were possible on the island, all tyrannies and cruelties, though in small; and if, in despite of what was possible, we lived at peace with another, surely this was proof that certain laws unknown to us held sway, or else that we had been following the promptings of our hearts all this time, and our hearts had not betrayed us.”
J.M. Coetzee, Foe
“With the buck before me suspended in immobility, there seems to be time for all things, time even to turn my gaze inward and see what it is that has robbed the hunt of its savour: the sense that this has become no longer a morning's hunting but an occasion on which either the proud ram bleeds to death on the ice or the old hunter misses his aim; that for the duration of this frozen moment the stars are locked in a configuration in which events are not themselves but stand for other things.”
J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
“A few days ago I heard a performance of the Sibelius fifth symphony. As the closing bars approached, I experienced exactly the large, swelling emotion that the music was written to elicit. What would it have been like, I wondered, to be a Finn in the audience at the first performance of the symphony in Helsinki nearly a century ago, and feel that swell overtake one? The answer: one would have felt proud, proud that one of us could put together such sounds, proud that out of nothing we human beings can make such stuff. Contrast with that one´s feelings of shame that we, our people, have made Guantanamo. Musical creation on the one hand, a machine for inflicting pain and humiliation on the other: the best and the worst that human beings are capable of.”
J.M. Coetzee
“Von allen Abenteuern ist Selbstmord das literarischste, mehr noch als Mord.”
J.M. Coetzee, In the Heart of the Country
“You told me," I said, "that I should turn this house into a boardinghouse for students. Well, there are better things I could do with it. I could turn it into a haven for beggars. I could run a soup kitchen and a dormitory. But I don't. Why not? Because the spirit of charity has perished in this country. Because those who accept charity despise it, while those who give give with a despairing heart. What is the point of charity when it does not go from heart to heart? What do you think charity is? Soup? Money? Charity: from the Latin word for the heart. It is as hard to receive as to give. it takes as much effort. I wish you would learn that. I wish you would learn something instead of just lying around."

A lie: charity, caritas, has nothing to do with the heart. But what does it matter if my sermons rest on false etymologies? He barely listens when i speak to him. Perhaps, despite those keen bird-eyes, he is more befuddled with drink than I know. Or perhaps, finally, he does not care. Care: the true root of charity. I look for him to care, and he does not. Because he is beyond caring. Beyond caring and beyond care”
J.M. Coetzee, Age of Iron
“Yet is it not the heart but the members of play that elevate us above the beasts: the fingers with which we touch the clavichord or the flute, the tongue with which we jest and lie and seduce. Lacking members of play, what is there left for beasts to do when they are bored but sleep?”
J.M. Coetzee, Foe
“It would be best if this obscure chapter in the history of the world were terminated at once, if these ugly people were obliterated from the face of the earth and we swore to make a new start, to run an empire in which there would be no more injustice, no more pain.”
J.M. Coetzee
“Words are coin. Words alienate. Language is no medium for desire. Desire is rapture, not exchange. It is only by alienating the desired that language masters it. The frenzy of desire in the medium of words yields the mania of the catalogue. I struggle with the proverbs of hell.”
J.M. Coetzee, In the Heart of the Country
“أي طير يملك قلبا ليغني في أيكة من الأشواك ؟”
J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
“..., según mi experiencia la poesía te habla y te llega a primera vista o no te llegará nunca. Hay un destello de revelación y un destello reflejo de respuesta. Es como el rayo. Como enamorarse.”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“الجريمة الكامنة في دواخلنا، يتوجب علينا إنزالها على أنفسنا، وليس على آخرين”
J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
“The mistake the two of us made,’ I said, ‘was that we skimped the foreplay. I’m not blaming you, it was as much my fault as yours, but it was a fault nonetheless.”
J.M. Coetzee, Summertime
“How many of the ragged workingmen who pass him in the street are secret authors of works that will outlast them: roads, walls, pylons? Immortality of a kind, a limited immortality, is not so hard to achieve after all. Why then does he persist in inscribing marks on paper, in the faint hope that people not yet born will take the trouble to decipher them?”
J.M. Coetzee, Summertime
“The Empire does not require that its servants love each other, merely that they perform their duty.”
J.M. Coetzee, Aspettando i barbari
“...he seems to be on the brink of one of his bad spells again, one of the fits of lugubrious self-pity that turn into black gloom. He likes to think that they comes from elsewhere, episodes of bad weather that cross the sky and pass on. He prefers not to think they come from inside him and are his, part of him.”
J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man
“If i were pressed to give my brand of political thought a label, I would call it pessimistic anarchistic quietism”
J.M. Coetzee
“The jackal rips out the hare's bowels, but the world rolls on.”
J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
“But with this woman it is as if there is no interior, only a surface across which I hunt back and forth seeking entry. Is this how her torturers felt hunting their secret, whatever they thought it was? For the first time I feel a dry pity for them: how natural a mistake to believe that you can burn or tear or hack your way into the secret body of the other! The girl lies in my bed, but there is no good reason why it should be a bed. I behave in some ways like a lover—I undress her, I bathe her, I stroke her, I sleep beside her—but I might equally well tie her to a chair and beat her, it would be no less intimate.”
J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
“She does not reply. She would rather hide her face, and he knows why. Because of the disgrace. Because of the shame. That is what their visitors have achieved; that is what they have done to this confidant, modern young woman. Like a stain the story is spreading across the district. Not her story to spread but theirs: they are its owners. How they put her in her place, how they showed her what a woman was for.”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“The body, I had been taught, wants only to live. Suicide, I had understood, is an act not of the body against itself but of the will against the body. Yet here I beheld a body that was going to die rather than change its nature.”
J.M. Coetzee
“...So that someone might want to put you in a book...So that you may be worth putting in a book...Live like a hero...Be a main character. Otherwise, what is life for?”
J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man


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Disgrace Disgrace
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Slow Man Slow Man
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