Quotes by: J. M. Coetzee

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J. M. Coetzee
J. M. Coetzee in Warsaw (2006)
Born John Maxwell Coetzee
(1940-02-09) 9 February 1940 (age 76)
Cape Town, South Africa
Occupation Novelist, essayist, literary critic, linguist, translator
Language English, Afrikaans, Dutch
Nationality South African
Australian (since 2006)
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin, University of Cape Town
Notable awards
Booker Prize
1983
Prix Femina étranger
1985
The Irish Times International Fiction Prize
1995
Booker Prize
1999
Nobel Prize in Literature
2003

I read a great deal as a child. A lot of children go through a phase of reading in a literally voracious way. It is their primary imaginative activity. Maybe that's an experience which is not so common any more with the presence of television in every home.
J. M. Coetzee
As you see, I do not treat the creation of fiction, that to say the invention and development of fantasies, as a form of abstract thought. I don't wish to deny the uses of the intellect, but sometimes one has the intuition that the intellect by itself will lead one nowhere.
J. M. Coetzee
That has always seemed to me one of the stranger aspects of literary fame: you prove your competence as a writer and an inventor of stories, and then people clamour for you to make speeches and tell them what you think about the world.
J. M. Coetzee
As for September 11, let us not too easily grant the Americans possession of that date on the calendar. Like May 1 or July 14 or December 25, September 11 may seem full of significance to some people, while to other people it is just another day.
J. M. Coetzee
I see no marks of Wordsworths style of writing or style of thinking in my own work, yet Wordsworth is a constant presence when I write about human beings and their relations to the natural world.
J. M. Coetzee
My response, a dubious and hesitant one, is that it has been and may continue to be, in the time that is left to me, more productive to live out the question than to try to answer it in abstract terms.
J. M. Coetzee
There is nothing more inimical to writing than the spirit of fundamentalism. Fundamentalism abhors the play of signs, the endlessness of writing. Fundamentalism means nothing more or less than going back to an origin and staying there. It stands for one founding book and, thereafter, no more books.
J. M. Coetzee
If there were a better, clearer, shorter way of saying what the fiction says, then why not scrap the fiction?
J. M. Coetzee
Elizabeth, Lady C, claims to be writing at the limits of language. Would it not be insulting to her if I were diligently to follow after her, explaining what she means but is not smart enough to say?
J. M. Coetzee
I say that I represent this movement because my intellectual allegiances are clearly European, not African.
J. M. Coetzee
The idea of writer as sage is pretty much dead today. I would certainly feel very uncomfortable in the role.
J. M. Coetzee
The most important of all rights is the right to life, and I cannot foresee a day when domesticated animals will be granted that right in law.
J. M. Coetzee
The mode of consciousness of nonhuman species is quite different from human consciousness.
J. M. Coetzee
If it is indeed impossible - or at least very difficult - to inhabit the consciousness of an animal, then in writing about animals there is a temptation to project upon them feelings and thoughts that may belong only to our own human mind and heart.
J. M. Coetzee
Islamic fundamentalism in its activist manifestation is bad news. Religious fundamentalism in general is bad news. We know about religious fundamentalism in South Africa. Calvinist fundamentalism has been an unmitigated force of benightedness in our history.
J. M. Coetzee
Lebanon, Israel, Ireland, South Africa - wherever there is a bleeding sore on the body of the world, the same hard-eyed narrow-minded fanatics are busy, indifferent to life, in love with death.
J. M. Coetzee
In its conception the literature prize belongs to days when a writer could still be thought of as, by virtue of his or her occupation, a sage, someone with no institutional affiliations who could offer an authoritative word on our times as well as on our moral life.
J. M. Coetzee
Strictly speaking, my interest is not in legal rights for animals but in a change of heart towards animals.
J. M. Coetzee
Everyone seems to see bleakness and despair in my books. I don't read them that way. I see myself as writing comic books, books about ordinary people trying to live ordinary, dull, happy lives while the world is falling to pieces around them.
J. M. Coetzee
In order to be cruel we have to close our hearts to the suffering of the other.
J. M. Coetzee
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