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Age of Iron

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,417 ratings  ·  259 reviews
In Cape Town, South Africa, an old woman is dying of cancer. A classics professor, Mrs. Curren has been opposed to the lies and brutality of apartheid all her life, but has lived insulated from its true horrors. Now she is suddenly forced to come to terms with the iron-hearted rage that the system has wrought. In an extended letter addressed to her daughter, who has long s ...more
Paperback, 198 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Penguin Books (first published 1990)
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,417 ratings  ·  259 reviews


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Orsodimondo
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sudafrica
IO ACCUSO COLORO CHE HANNO DATO VITA A QUESTO TEMPO
Li accuso di aver profanato la mia vita proprio come un ratto o uno scarafaggio profana il cibo senza neppure mangiarlo, semplicemente camminandoci sopra, annusandolo, insozzandolo.

Un libro straziante composto da un artista che allo strazio non concede campo, che usa scrittura asciutta e limata, finanche all’eccesso, adotta un tono saldo, presenta personaggi non facili da amare, gente che è come il ferro del titolo, dura rigida cruda non simpati
...more
Tony
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: south-african
At the end, when it's time to cross over, what form will the angel take? And will you still see it all clearly?

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
Agnieszka
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Breakdown of interpersonal relationships, values and family. Ruthlessness and exclusion, pervasive cult of strength and youth. We all are living in the age of iron.

This novel is like a cry of despair. Coetzee speaks with the voice of a dying woman, gradually disinherited from her body, home and country, excluded from the title age of iron, from the age of the young and the strong. He writes about disintegration of the body and mind and decline of morality. Stigmatizes abomination of apartheid p
...more
Ajeje Brazov
"Bambini di ferro, ho pensato. Florence, lei stessa di ferro. L'età del ferro. Dopodichè segue l'età del bronzo.
Quanto, quanto tempo ci vorrà ancora, prima che ritornino secondo il loro ciclo ere più tranquille, l'età dell'argilla, l'età della terra? Una matrona sparatana, dal cuore di ferro, che concepisce alla nazione figli guerrieri. 'Siamo orgogliosi di loro'. Noi. Torna a casa con lo scudo oppure sopra lo scudo.
E io? Da che parte sta il mio cuore in tutto questo? La mia unica figlia è lonta
...more
Teresa
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If Coetzee's Disgrace is at least partly a meditation on the title word, this earlier novel seems to be partly a musing on the word stupefy:
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
Dagio_maya
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stelle, sud-africa
“Dunque senza dolore niente scrittura: una nuova terribile regola.”
----------
”Lo stesso giorno in cui il dottor Syfret mi ha comunicato la notizia. Una brutta notizia...”

Lo stesso giorno Mrs Curren – un'insegnante in pensione- comincia a scrivere alla figlia emigrata negli Stati Uniti.
Lo stesso giorno in cui scopre che nel vialetto di fianco al garage un vagabondo ha allestito la sua dimora di cartoni e teli di plastica.
Lo stesso giorno in cui inizia ad accorgersi che tutto si sta sgretolando
...more
Sarah
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
اگر بخوام مقايسه كنم راستش
Disgrace
رو به مراتب بيشتر دوست داشتم.
چرا كه معتقدم تا حد بسيار زيادي جذابيتش رو مديون و مدهون شخصيت ها و شخصيت پردازيشه، در حالي كه تو اين اثر چيز زيادي از شخصيت ها
حتي تا پايان داستان هم نميفهميم، اصلا بفهميم هم از اين همه روابط عجيب غريب سر در نمياريم. اين داستان بيشتر آفريقاي جنوبي دوران آپارتايد رو به تصوير ميكشه. و خوب اينكه
Disgrace
بعد از آپارتايد نوشته شده هم تو اين تفاوت بي تاثير نيست. كوتسي بعد از نوشتن اين كتاب در آفريقا جنوبي به شدت محكوم شده انقدر كه آفريقا
...more
Ettore1207
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
E' un romanzo sotto forma di lettera indirizzata alla figlia, emigrata negli USA e quindi persa per sempre, da una anziana e colta signora, affetta da un cancro terminale, nella povertà del Sudafrica oppresso dall'apartheid.
Una riflessione sulla solitudine, sulla responsabilità di aver contribuito a creare, seppur passivamente, una società violenta e ingiusta, sul tempo che usura corpi e cose, e sul destino dello spirito. Una prosa magnifica che offre una lettura profonda, drammatica, inquietant
...more
Celeste - Una stanza tutta per me
Il più duro tra i romanzi di Coetzee che ho letto; violento e profondamente inquietante, un gioiello della narrativa.
Coetzee dimostra perentoriamente d'essere uno dei pochi uomini capaci di scrivere attraverso gli occhi di una donna, impressionante.
Bob Mustin
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing

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
missy jean
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Is JM Coetzee even capable of writing a single imperfect word? Not as far as I can see. He, more than almost any other writer, makes me want to be a writer, makes me believe in the power of fiction... but he also, more than almost any other writer, makes me double back upon myself in fear because I know I will never have the kind of wisdom and precision that he writes into his books.

I want to read every word he has ever written.
Offuscatio
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"La guerra nunca es lo que finge ser. Rascas la superficie y encontrarás, invariablemente, viejos enviando a jóvenes a morir en el nombre de alguna abstracción."
- Satisfecha de no haberlo abandonado durante la primera mitad.
Jani Allan
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This has been described as a novel about love that exceeds boundaries. It is also a lament on death and dying and the grief a mother feels at her daughter’s decision to leave South Africa until ‘the rulers of the apartheid state are swinging by their necks from the lamp posts.’

The novel starts on the day Mrs Curren is told that she has terminal cancer. The cancer becomes a metaphor for a country that has lost it humanity.

At the outset Mrs Curren is oblivious to the extent of the cancer. When she
...more
Peycho Kanev
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Television. Why do I watch it? The parade of politicians every evening: I have only to see the heavy, blank faces so familiar since childhood to feel gloom and nausea. The bullies in the last row of school desks, raw-boned, lumpish boys, grown up now and promoted to rule the land. They with their fathers and mothers, their aunts and uncles, their brothers and sisters: a locust horde, a plague of black locusts infesting the country, munching without cease, devouring lives. Why, in a spirit of hor ...more
Domenico Fina
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Le storie di Coetzee espresse in sintesi avrebbero l'interesse di una fila di martedì mattina all'ufficio del catasto, se non ci fosse Coetzee. Per esempio Età di ferro: storia di una donna sessantenne che vive sola in una cittadina del Sudafrica, siamo negli anni '80 e c'è rappresaglia ovunque. Lei è malata e si imbatte in un tale che sta peggio di lei, un taciturno con un cane, senza arte, né parte. Decide di ospitarlo a casa per il semplice fatto che non ha neppure la forza di cacciarlo. Una ...more
Ioannis
Το βιβλίο αποτελεί ένα γράμμα μιας μητέρας που πάσχει από καρκίνο και ζει στη Ν. Αφρική σε μια ταραγμένη για τη χώρα περίοδο, προς την κόρη της έχει φύγει και ζει στις ΗΠΑ. Η μητέρα στη δύσκολη αυτή προσωπική στιγμή της βιώνει τη μοναξιά, αλλά και τις δυσκολίες της ασθένειάς της τα οποία μεγεθύνονται λόγω των ταραχών που έχουν ξεσπάσει εκείνη την περίοδο στη χώρα. Μόνος αρωγός της σε αυτήν της την κατάσταση ένας άστεγος τον οποίο κάποια στιγμή είχε βοηθήσει. Μέσα από το γράμμα εκφράζεται ο προβλ ...more
Mahdie
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: favorites
جدا از روح مبارزه با تبعیض نژادی و آپرتاید در آفریقای جنوبی چیزی که در این داستان خیلی من رو در بر گرفت این بود که یک خانم مسن که قبلا لاتین در دانشگاه تدریس میکرده و صاحب تفکر و تامل بوده در کنار یک پیرمرد آواره ی الکلی که قبلا ملوانی میکرده آروم میگیره.شاید دو تا آدم وقتی به هم نیازمندند و فرای نیاز کنار هم آرامش دارند طوری که میدونند قراره همه رابطه شون رو قضاوت کنن و چه بسا مسخره اما اونها همه ی اینها رو میفهمند،غیر منطقی بودن این وابستگی و کنار هم بودن رو میفهمند،آسیبی که هر کدومشون ممکنه ب ...more
Laura
Another great masterpiece written by J.M. Coetzee.

4* Disgrace
4* Waiting for the Barbarians
3* A Ilha
4* The Master of Petersburg
3* Slow Man
3* Elizabeth Costello
3* Foe
4* Age of Iron
TR Dusklands
TR Youth
TR Boyhood
TR Life and Times of Michael K
TR Summertime
TR Siete cuentos morales
TR The Schooldays of Jesus
Lambeam
Aug 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
The last days of Apartheid combined with the last days of a dying woman makes for a dark dark novel in an era of dark novels. The use of a female narrator by a man always gets my antenae up. But Coetzee had so many things to say for her I found it hard to believe she was written by a he.


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
Easton Smith
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have been warned that one cannot tell Coetzee what is, or what is not, a novel. Well, warning-be-damned: this is barely a novel.

It's an exploration of philosophical and moral concepts through the lens of a character. A character who stops in the middle of a muddy, bloody, burning village to speak to a man about her feelings on Apartheid. A character who writes a letter to her daughter that is not only two-hundred pages long, but that also include a precise and unsentimental premonition of her
...more
Neal Adolph
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful, complex novel. the sort that reminds the reader why the author is so widely, highly regarded. I could not stop reading it, nightmare after nightmare. I could not stop imagining it. And the ending - the anti climatic ending - was so essential.

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
Mary Mojica
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book with a tear inside of my heart. It's cruel and truthful, but beautiful and full of humanity. The connection between two people is not understandable, but Coetzee, the amazing Coetzee, describes it so naturally that one may think it's in fact, comprehensible. It's the essence of love, the fingerprint of sacrifice and honesty. The age of stone arrived in a crucial moment of my life, and has become one of my favourite books ever. Beautiful and imperfect, just as life is.
Jane Meagher
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Great lead charachter, her courage lifted this often depressing story of apartheid and death.
Natacha Martins
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Este é o segundo livro que leio de J. M. Coetzee e é com este pequeno livro que Coetzee confirma que merece um lugar de destaque nas minhas estantes. Em "No Coração Desta Terra", fui surpreendida por uma personagem feminina extraordinária e difícil de esquecer. Neste "A Idade do Ferro", temos novamente uma mulher que me vai acompanhar durante uns tempos. :) Coetzee é bom com as personagens femininas, estou a ver. Aliando a isto histórias muitíssimo bem contadas, a leitura dos seus livros só pode ...more
Cliff Dolph
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Coetzee has been on my radar for a while. A few years back, I looked over a list of Booker Prize winners and saw that he had won it twice (only one other author has done so, if I remember right). So I figured he would be worth reading.

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
Carolyn
Jul 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people interested in South African history
Shelves: favorites
I read this book for an undergrad class in South African literature after I had taken a traditional South Africa history/politics class and had studied abroad there. I remember thinking that we should be reading literature like this in my history/poli sci classes (or maybe I should have been a literature major).

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
Eric Kirkman
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
A solid story of the ambivalence of South Africa's intellectual elite towards the horrors of apartheid and one dying college professor's struggle to that realization.

The choice of Cullen's letter to her daughter as the primary way to communicate his ideas was a bad one. They were ineffective and dull.

The portions that are good in this book rise to great literature, but were diluted by the long letter monologues which watered down both the message and story.
Cristina
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: surafricana
Leído en 2013.
Hyperliteratura
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman
Deşi e o carte despre moarte, singurătate şi neputinţă, cuvintele ei exprimă atâta viaţă şi dragoste de viaţă, încât acum înţeleg un pic mai bine scriitura lui Coetzee. E genul care împacă două tabere extrem de diferite una de cealaltă, într-un mod impecabil. Să scrii o carte despre urâţenia lumii, din perspectiva unui personaj care se stinge sub ochii tăi, însoţit în ultimele clipe de un om al străzii care nu şi-a mai schimbat hainele de câteva luni, şi cititorul tău să-şi ridice ochii cu plină ...more
Anh Nguyen
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cảm giác cả cuốn sách là sự vật lộn, bồi hồi giữa sự sống và cái chết, nỗi thất vọng về cuộc sống cũng như hy vọng về tương lai. Điều lạ kỳ là người đang sắp cập bến cuối của cuộc đời lại là người cuối cùng ở lại, nhìn những thứ đáng lẽ ra phải tràn đầy nhựa sống mất dần đi...
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John Maxwell Coetzee is an author and academic from South Africa. He is now an Australian citizen and lives in South Australia. 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.
“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”
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“How easy it is to love a child, how hard to love what a child turns into!” 3 likes
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