THE CHILDHOOD OF JESUS by J.M. Coetzee (2013)
This is an odd and frustrating novel.
Calling a book The Childhood of Jesus and then not referring once to Jesus by name is perverse to say the least. On top of this we never learn when and where the story takes place. The protagonists speak Spanish but it’s not their mother tongue (neither is it English).
David is a child with no known natural parents but he doesn’t behave like the son of God. His strangeness and learning difficulties could be due to the fact that he is dyslexic, retarded or too gifted to connect with fellow mortals. The latter would be more in keeping with a religious angle but it’s hard to see that this is Coetzee’s sole motive for writing the novel. Continue reading
The second in a series of 13 book reviews written in my pre-blogging years.
MOLLOY by Samuel Beckett (First published in English – translated from French – in 1955)
Molloy is far from being a conventional novel. In fact, Beckett seems to mock traditional plot devices and characterisation.
He gives impressions of people and places through images rather than details. He pointedly avoids using descriptions, apparently regarding them as superfluous. Of a bicycle he writes : “I would gladly write four thousand words on it alone” but does not do so!
The novel is divided into two sections, both written in the first person singular. The first is by Molloy, the second is by Moran. Through these two characters Beckett explores the central themes of freedom, doubt and human frailty.
At first the two elderly men seem dissimilar aside from the fact that they are both world-weary. Gradually they become to seem like one of the same person with Moran as the public face of Molloy.
Moran’s comment that “As soon as two things are nearly identical, I am lost”, is therefore highly significant.
Each slowly becomes aware of their failings. They have tried trusting in others but now feel disillusioned. Molloy says “All the things you would do gladly, oh, without enthusiasm but gladly, all the things there seems to be no reason for your not doing and that you do not do! Can it be that we are not free? It might be worth looking into”. Continue reading