Inner Workings

Inner Workings

Literary Essays, 2000-2005

Book - 2007
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A new collection of essays and literary criticism from Nobel Prize winner J. M. Coetzee In addition to being one of the most acclaimed and accomplished fiction writers in the world, J. M. Coetzee is also a literary critic of the highest caliber. As Derek Attridge observes in his illuminating introduction, reading Coetzees nonfiction offers one the opportunity to see how an author at the forefront of his profession engages with his peers, not as a critic from the outside, but as one who works with the same raw materials. In this collection of twenty recent pieces, Coetzee examines the work of some of the twentieth centurys greatest writersfrom Samuel Beckett and Gnter Grass to Gabriel Garca Mrquez and Philip Roth. Brilliantly insightful, challenging, yet accessible, these essays demonstrate Coetzees sharp eye and unwavering critical acumen and will be of interest to his many fans as well as to all readers of international literature.
Publisher: New York : Viking, c2007.
ISBN: 9780670038657
Branch Call Number: 809 COETZEE
Characteristics: xiv, 304 p. ; 23 cm.


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Jun 16, 2019

These aren't quite literary essays - they are essays, mostly book reviews, about literature, with some book introductions and author overviews thrown in. They are all written competently, patiently, and rather flatly: there is no indication from the writing that he gets a thrill from reading literature, or, for that matter, writing about it (in this he contrasts greatly with Martin Amis, as evidenced in the take on "Adventures of Augie March"). Mostly, they encourage readers to read certain authors that are comparatively obscure, or at least out of fashion - J. Roth, Sebald, Walser, and Marai, for example.

RogerDeBlanck Jul 27, 2018

With the pieces in Inner Workings (Coetzee’s second volume of literary essays after Stranger Shores), he examines the work of a wide range of writers, past and contemporary, ranging from Europe to the Americas. As was the style and scope of Stranger Shores, the critiques and discussions in this collection are accessible, but challenging at times in their erudition. Coetzee showcases his inquisitive mind for analysis and interpretation throughout these pieces. He raises questions that reveal his surefooted understanding of the lives of writers and an intense interaction with their works. He writes with flawless command of subjects, whether it is psychology, history, or some other field or discipline pertinent to his study. He is masterful at describing and summarizing texts, but also brilliant at uncovering deeper meanings. The sum total of each essay is fascinating in its discussion of literary figures and their works. As a former Nobel recipient, Coetzee views literature as more than stories. For him, it is the creative process of shaping reality by exposing and illuminating truths. In this way, he exalts the art of literature as a system that functions to identify, investigate, and ultimately change reality. These essays show how this process of change links inseparably with a writer’s experiences.


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