Age of Iron
Television ... the parade of politicians every evening ... their message stupidly unchanging ... Their feat, after years of etymological meditation on the word, to have raised stupidity to a virtue. To stupefy: to deprive of feeling; to benumb, deaden; to stun with amazement ... Stupid: dulled in the faculties, indifferent, destitute of thought or feeling....more
Mrs. Curren lives alone in South Africa. Her husband left her many years ago and has since died. Her daughter left too, gone to America, promising never to return to the troubled land. So Mrs. Curren is quite alone when she finds out she has cancer and will soon die. That same day, she finds a vagrant outside her house, reeking of urine and decay, sleeping off a drunk under plastic and ...more
Breakdown of interpersonal relationships , values and family . Ruthlessness and exclusion , cult of strength and youth . We are living in the age of iron .
This novel is a cry of despair . Coetzee speaks with the voice of dying woman , gradually disinherited from the body , home and country , excluded from the title age of iron , from the age of the young and the strong . Writes about disintegration of the body and mind and decline of morality . Stigmatizes abomination of apartheid painting a la ...more
An early novel in Coetzee’s list of achievements, Age of Iron, depicts the author’s distaste for apartheid, the revolution against it, and gives prescient hints of what was to come of South Africa after Mandela. Coetzee has always seemed to this reader an idealist, harping eloquently against human imperfections and the flawed institutions created by such faulty people. But he’s always seemed to know this about himself, and he’s made obvious attempts in his fiction to resolve this inner conflict. ...more
For example when Mrs. Curran's maid leaves her for a stretch of time and later returns she reflects:
"When Florence went off at the beginning of the month I asured her I could cope with the housework. But of cours ...more
Age of Iron is set in the late 1980s as apartheid is coming to a (violent) close, and it's framed as a lengthy letter from a woman dying of cancer to her daughter who had fled for America ...more
I want to read every word he has ever written.
Then, preparing for the 2012-13 school year, I decided to organize my AP Literature class around stages of life, with fourth quarter being old age and death. I went hunting for titles and came across "Age of Iron." I ended up choosing "Gilead" instead, so I read "A ...more
Mrs. Curren is a self-described 'good person', a white woman angered by the state of the nation where she grew up and raised a family -- she hates the separation of race and the oppression of the black South Africans, to the point where she wishes and prays ...more
What is a "good life"? How much guilt do we bear for what our ancestors have done, for what others of our race, or religion, or nationality, do to others? Is is guilt by blood, by common language, by accident of birth, by association? Is our family created by blood relation or by those whose lives, whose a ...more
Age Of Iron is an old and dying woman's final reach to her daughter from apartheid South Africa to America. She neither travels nor invites her daughter to return; instead she documents her final weeks on the planet. Coetzee is not a gimmicky writer so ...more
Elizabeth Curren, a professor of classics in Cape Town, South Africa, is in the last stage of terminal cancer. She finds a homeless man, Mr. Vercueil, in the alley next to her garage ...more
We see the elder Mrs Curren, a former teacher of classic languages (the summum of civilization?) arriving home, on the day she has been told she has terminal cancer; she stumbles upon a shabby homeless man near her house, and at first tries to drive him out, but in a fatalistic mood comes to tolerate him around a ...more
That's what this book seemed like to me. Good writers avoid obvious symbols ("hidden meanings"), and Coetzee is most definitely an excellent, poetic, measured and assured writer. His prose is very exact - every single word seems to have been weighed up carefully before reaching the page - in that sense it has poetic qualities for me.
Perhaps the narrator's cancer is not a symbol of the state of his country of birth in 1990; perhaps he doesn't see Apartheid as the slo...more
I would love to have read this in South Africa in the late 80s, as the world was crumbling and power was so rapidly shifting. But as a Canadian who is constantly struggling with my own colonial reality, this was an instructive and terri ...more
This book was about a dying woman, but I'm not sure how the boys dying quite fit -- did their deaths make it easier for her to die?
I read this because it was set in South Africa and written by a South African author. What stood out the most to me were things like this:
"Since life in this country is so much like life aboard a sinking ship, one of those old-time liners with a lugubrious, drunken captain and a surly crew and leaking lifeboats... ...more
I did not really like the main character, who is dying of cancer. She's writing letters to her daughter who fled apartheid South Africa for America. The cancer that is killing her is likened to apartheid killing South Africa. Ther ...more
We never learn the protagonist's full name. We know only that her last name is C ...more
Between a word and a thing
you only encounter yourself,
lying between each
as if next to someone ill,
never being able to get to either,
tasting a sound and a body,
and relishing both
In many ways, the female narrator in J. M. Coetzee’s novel Age of Iron, an aging retired classics professor dying of breast cancer, expresses this problem of words and meaning, of speech and understanding. As she struggles throughout the nove ...more
A novelist and literary critic as well as a translator, Coetzee has won the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature.
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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”