The Childhood of Jesus PDF/EPUB Î The Childhood PDF

The Childhood of Jesus [Read] ➭ The Childhood of Jesus Author J.M. Coetzee – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk A major new novel from the Nobel Prize winning author of Waiting for the Barbarians, The Life Times of Michael K and Disgrace Nobel laureate and two time Booker Prize winner J M Coetzee returns with a A major new novel from the Nobel Prize winning author of Waiting for the Barbarians, The Life Times of Michael K and Disgrace Nobel laureate and two time Booker Prize winner J M The Childhood PDF \ Coetzee returns with a haunting and surprising novel about childhood and destiny that is sure to rank with his classic novels Separated from his mother as a passenger on a boat bound for a new land, David is a boy who is quite literally adrift The piece of paper explaining his situation is lost, but a fellow passenger, Sim n, vows to look after the boy When the boat docks, David and Sim n are issued new names, new birthdays, and virtually a whole new life Strangers in a strange land, knowing nothing of their surroundings, nor the language or customs, they are determined to find David s mother Though the boy has no memory of her, Sim n is certain he will recognize her at first sight But after we find her, David asks, what are we here for An eerie allegorical tale told largely through dialogue, The Childhood of Jesus is a literary feat a novel of ideas that is also a tender, compelling narrative Coetzee s many fans will celebrate his return while new readers will find The Childhood of Jesus an intriguing introduction to the work of a true master.


10 thoughts on “The Childhood of Jesus

  1. José Toledo José Toledo says:

    I am not much given to write book reviews because, as the saying goes, birds do not make good ornithologists But with the publication of J M Coetzee s latest novel, The Childhood of Jesus Harvill Secker, London Viking, New York I am moved to address the issue of reader engagement or, shall we say, responsibility That responsibility begins by reading a work of fiction on its own terms That is, with an open mind Professional reviewers have been put off by the apparent strangeness of this I am not much given to write book reviews because, as the saying goes, birds do not make good ornithologists But with the publication of J M Coetzee s latest novel, The Childhood of Jesus Harvill Secker, London Viking, New York I am moved to address the issue of reader engagement or, shall we say, responsibility That responsibility begins by reading a work of fiction on its own terms That is, with an open mind Professional reviewers have been put off by the apparent strangeness of this novel, but I sometimes think it is the job of such people to be put off, to find fault, to interpret beyond their means to justify their existence But what about the reader When one buys a book it would seem that one is entering into contract with one s self and with the author a contract of respect for the intelligences involved on both sides Scanning the commentaries ofbuyers, I made a list of some of the titles these individuals gave their reviews funny little bookof the same a strange land and a slow read searching for utopia a hollow egg and, my personal favorite, well crafted, but unfathomable and at times tedious Of course, for a book to be unfathomable if by that one means profound, immeasurable, enigmatic it must, by force, be well crafted Reading each of these reviews what was immediately evident, to me, was the unwillingness of the readers to be challenged beyond the easy and the conventional, the sentimental, the entertaining, the expected.I have been reading Coetzee since he became internationally known with the publication of his third novel Waiting for the barbarians I was very young and filled with ideas of how the world should be That novel was painful to read, but the stark beauty of its prose, which I have never forgotten, indicated that indeed there was beauty above and beyond the cruelty depicted within its pages That beauty was Truth Echoing Beckett s vision of life with no consolation, no dignity, no promise of grace, Coetzee has written that, in the face of it all, the only duty we have is not to lie to ourselves Truth is beauty With each successive book Coetzee has maintained that line, expanded the search for Truth In my experience, not a single one of his books has beenof the same, and never a hollow egg So we come to The Childhood of Jesus A man and a small boy have arrived at Novilla after an apparently perilous journey during which the boy has lost his mother Novilla, a Spanish land devoid of all possible amenities, where politeness abounds but friendliness is negligible, it is the land one arrives at after everywhere else has, apparently, failed In its anodyne reality Novilla is neither utopia nor dystopia it islike living inside one s smart phone Once there, you are expected to clean yourself of memories and take on new names The man and the boy are given the names Sim n and David, respectively Sim n is very caring and paternal with David, but he never ceases to proclaim that the boy is not my grandson, not my son We are not related the boy happens to be in my care Here we realize that the title of the novel is not misleading, for it serves to put the narrative in context Sim n is, like Joseph was to Jesus, a putative father The man s sole purpose is to find the boy s true mother but he has no methodical or logical plan to find her, believing that he will know who she is once he sets eyes on her Perhaps that was how the angel announced itself to Mary, too.And so it goes that, one day, they happen upon the gates of a wealthier gated community known as La Residencia, where they spot a thirtysomething woman playing tennis with two men Sim n recognizes her as David s mother The woman is named In s, she leaves La Residencia and moves into the gray flat where Sim n and David are sheltered, and starts acting as the boy s overprotective mother, quickly revealing her inexperience but nonetheless remaining steadfast in her maternal mission If this sounds absurd, let us remember again the title of the novel and recognize that the concept of the immaculate conception is no less incongruous For his part, David swings back and forth between iconoclastic child genius and brat The story ends as Sim n, In s and David flee from Novilla in the wake of a judicial order to consign the boy to a reformatory, the image of the flight to Egypt not even delicately disguised if it were not for speaking of disguises David being dressed up in a magician s cape too large for his boyish size, and wearing sunglasses after partially having blinded himself in some sort of alchemical diversion Although the coat is not specified as being of many colors, I could not avoid the image of the son of Jacob and Rachel, Book of Genesis, as re hatched for modern pop culture by Andrew Lloyd Webber in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream After all, the Bible offers an explanation for the name Yosef first it is compared to the word asaf from the root to be taken away and combined with the root word ysp, meaning to add This may be a stretch of my reader s interpretation, but I have a feeling Coetzee would derive quite a chuckle from it without denying me my reading which, after all, is firmly in the context offered by the title Sim n, In s and David then meet a couple of people on the road, whom they invite to join them on their journey to an unimagined new life It hardly seems worthwhile, the effort, the journey to a new place whose only promise is a continuation of the same il faut continuer, je ne peux pas, je vais continuer so ends Samuel Beckett s L innommable Only in Coetzee s vision everyone gets a name.But biblical absurdities are not the only things evoked in this novel The first of Coetzee s Australian novels, Elizabeth Costello, featured a broad correspondence between philosophers In The Childhood of Jesus the author ups the ante, the philosophical musings and quotations are integrated into the narrative It should be said here that, shortly after arrival at Novilla Sim n finds work as a stevedore in the docks where, during breaks, he and his colleagues discuss the nature of life When lvaro, the unbelievably affable foreman, questions the thing itself do you think remains forever itself, unchanging No Everything flows you cannot step twice into the same waters I at once thought of Parmenides, searched in vain until Jacqueline de Romilly s La Gr ce Antique elucidated me that it was of course Heraclitus Well at least I was within the pre Socratic ball park And what are Socrates and the pres doing here Well, Nietzsche did not like the way European philosophy had ensconced the hemlocked master at its center, so he offered Jesus as an alternative And the plus points of these alternatives are healthily discussed in the dockside agora of our stevedores Digressions No, incursions into the heart of this very complex and stimulating novel John Coetzee loves to let the reader create, make, his or her own sense out of his novels Is Novilla a Dantesque vision of the afterlife Is it a Socratic Platonic utopia Does it deliberately spoof biblical clich s Perhaps all of the above, perhaps none Gertrude Stein, on her deathbed, is reputed to have asked What is the answer When no reply came from Alice B Toklas she said In that case, What is the question I love novels that leave me to ruminate on its possible clues and answers It is the author bringing in the reader to take part in his creation


  2. Hugh Hugh says:

    This was my first Coetzee for several years the last new one I read was Diary of a Bad Year, and at that time his new books seemed very gloomy and introspective So thanks are due to the 21st Century Literature group for selecting this as one of this month s group reads.This one seems on the surface to be a simple fable Simon has arrived in a Spanish speaking country across the ocean and is accompanied by a small boy David who has lost his parents and his identity documents at sea It is soon This was my first Coetzee for several years the last new one I read was Diary of a Bad Year, and at that time his new books seemed very gloomy and introspective So thanks are due to the 21st Century Literature group for selecting this as one of this month s group reads.This one seems on the surface to be a simple fable Simon has arrived in a Spanish speaking country across the ocean and is accompanied by a small boy David who has lost his parents and his identity documents at sea It is soon apparent that the society they have arrived in is some form of utopian community, where new arrivals are expected to forget the past, and simple lifestyles involving manual labour, limited diet and philosophical education are favoured Simon has told David they will find his mother, and they do find a woman Inez willing to play the role David is a form of idiot savant he is resistant to conventional education and appears to be living in a fantasy world, but succeeds in teaching himself to read using a children s illustrated Don Quixote The state wants to educate him in a special school, and Inez and Simon attempt to resist this.The setup seems to be a way to allow Coetzee to discuss his ideas of what it means to be human, and what a society can and cannot provide Religion is curiously absent, and the relevance of Jesus seems distant and oblique.A superficially easy read, but one with plenty of hidden depths, deeper significance and ideas to ponder


  3. Stephen P Stephen P says:

    We have all felt that exalted state when a writer seems to write specifically for us That is part of why I read, I am an exalted state junkie J.M Coetzee has been that for me He took particular care through, Elizabeth Costello, Slow Man, Diary of a Bad Year, to carve these particular novels to my taste Even books of his that I didn t like, I liked due to the elegance of his authorial voice So, when, The Childhood of Jesus arrived from , since my hands tend to shake a little, I asked We have all felt that exalted state when a writer seems to write specifically for us That is part of why I read, I am an exalted state junkie J.M Coetzee has been that for me He took particular care through, Elizabeth Costello, Slow Man, Diary of a Bad Year, to carve these particular novels to my taste Even books of his that I didn t like, I liked due to the elegance of his authorial voice So, when, The Childhood of Jesus arrived from , since my hands tend to shake a little, I asked my wife to open the box so the book s jacket would not be damaged A successful cardboard birthing took place before my eyes Then, the intrigue of learning the binding s etiquette of range I opened it slowly, tensing, finding where to stop before the calamitous crack sound A slight riffle of the pages, then I picked up the scent of the paper, the print This is the enclave of the spiritual, as it should be.I immediately marveled at how the master set himself a novelistic task to wind himself out of that which Houdini might shrink from This is what great authors do, set themselves a challenge from the onset There is no queasy looking down from the heights, no timid hesitations A man, a young boy separated from his mother, are rescued from the same damaged ship and arrive at an unnamed country Feeling responsible for the poor boy the man begins a long quest to find the boy s mother Finding work at the docks we quickly see the title s sophomoric set up of Jesus and the apostles, as well as other references, and can quickly jump past this intentional quirk to the meat of the narrative I found but two problems there was no meat nor any significant narrative Coetzee made it clear early on the impossibility of finding the mother under these chaotic and harrowing circumstances He gave no warning of the implausibility which he planned to reckon on me, who already unwittingly slightly, somewhat, cracked the binding, of the finding of a substitute mother for the boy as well as most events about to be plummeted onto the page.Being a Coetzee co dependent I reshuffled the deck of cards and proclaimed his intent as a poking of fun at the typical narrative stratagems like building an internal structure so when an event occurs its plausibility is unquestioned, unnoticed, and the story flows to its further tributaries, we readers riding the crest of the unfurling wave Returning to my Coetzee co dependent support group I left the meeting I was the only attendee saying, NO The foundation of the story was not set, the bones left bare I f you really want to know what I am trying to describe go to Nathan N.R Gaddis s review of Baktin s, The Dialogic Imagination, and scroll down to the section Things That Look Like Novels Our own N.R takes dense and difficult material planing it down to its essence If only Coetzee read this first.What to make of this There was for me no magic of his authorial voice, no meaning eventually rising from the prose, the polished language, to overcome plot difficulties Was this a mis step, uncalibrated Is it the ending throes of the material which spurred his style and left me nestled within the brilliance of his mind I vote for a mis step I hope that is all that happened


  4. Roland Roland says:

    He sits down to create another world He takes the real world and strips it of all the things that are not required just as he has stripped language of all that is not required, just as he has stripped narrative technique down to third person I narrators, even in his own diaries.We are left with the bones of narrative, the bones of language, the bones of a world The reduction is clever For instance, to reduce language even further, we must know that all the characters conduct their partly hig He sits down to create another world He takes the real world and strips it of all the things that are not required just as he has stripped language of all that is not required, just as he has stripped narrative technique down to third person I narrators, even in his own diaries.We are left with the bones of narrative, the bones of language, the bones of a world The reduction is clever For instance, to reduce language even further, we must know that all the characters conduct their partly highly philosophical conversations in Spanish and that Spanish is not their first language, but the lingua franca this new state at which they have arrived forces on them And this world in which people are assigned new Spanish names and asked to forget their past which they all seem to achieve easily is there supernatural help in this , this world where stevedores are philosophers and everybody is just about helpful, but no , is not enough for David, the Jesus of the title Yo soy la verdad , p 225 He wants to find a new world, eventually they travel to Estrellita del Norte and in true Jesus manner, David invites all and sundry to abandon their lives and come join him.One is greatly looking forward to the scholars who will name the analogies is Mr Daga Satan, tempting Jesus with his toy and wild ways Who do In s brothers stand for Why does In s receive David through Sim n, as it were That is not how we read it in the bible and it would have been easy to make her conceive without knowledge of the father, surely And Bol var the dog How does he fit into the picture The novel leaves many issues unanswered in the best possible way The most intriguing question for this reader is how we must cope with this Jesus who comes across as a spoilt brat, who hurts people and is utterly unreasonable, but always convinces those around him that he is indeed special


  5. Marc Marc says:

    The right to be differentTo be absolutely clear this is not a religious book, it isn t even about Jesus On the contrary, this rather is a very disturbing novel, I would call it a dystopia For starters there s the setting a vague country, where people arrive by boat, as refugees, washed clean of their past The main characters, the older man Simon and the little David the boy he took care of during the boat trip , are such refugees The order in the new country is consciously left imperso The right to be differentTo be absolutely clear this is not a religious book, it isn t even about Jesus On the contrary, this rather is a very disturbing novel, I would call it a dystopia For starters there s the setting a vague country, where people arrive by boat, as refugees, washed clean of their past The main characters, the older man Simon and the little David the boy he took care of during the boat trip , are such refugees The order in the new country is consciously left impersonal and invisible, but there are clear laws, such as social differentiation beautiful residential neighborhoods, poor social neighborhoods, refugee camps, etc and a very bureaucratic culture where the rules of what is right and what not are omnipresent very Kafkaian The people in this country compensate for this by a striking attitude of benevolence towards each other and towards the existing order everyone behaves neatly, even to a certain extent helps others, but without warmth, without feeling, as from an obvious duty.Simon and David expose this benevolence culture and go against the tide In the first part of the novel Simon continually questions the fundaments of the social order In fact, he stands for the passionate man, who wantsthan formal contact, respect, and benevolence and he always craves forboth intellectually, emotionally, sexually and even in the labour process and he passionately pleads for the individual s right to wantBut with that he clashes with the benevolent indifference of the officials he comes in contact with, with his fellow dock workers, and with his neighbours in the barracks assigned to him.To me, the Simon figure is the most captivating figure of this intriguing novel He is perhaps a bit tedious and paternalistic, but he is also a kind of a Socrate, a louse in the fur that drives everyone around him to improbable philosophical conversations With his fellow dock workers, for example, he talks about good and evil, progress and the meaning of labor, the idea of justice and the elusiveness of history In these discussions the others accept the natural obviousness of the existing order as a reasonable, rational organization, but Simon doesn t agree.And then there is the little David, who in his own way also challenges the existing order but he s a character that we, as the reader, barely get a grip on Sometimes he is an angelic boy who charmes people, but he can also be a son of bitch who stubbornly locks into his own imagination and always wants to be right For instance, he has his own system of reading, writing and arithmetic, which of course causes him to clash with the school where he is going.I do not know what to think of this guy, and I think this is intended by Coetzee Of course, because of that title, you constantly ask yourself is David an alternative Jesus And Coetzee cunningly gives small indications to justify that identification the name of foster father Simon, is a clear reference to Simon Peter the most important disciple of Jesus , David s foster mother Ines is a virgin who always wears blue, and together they form a kind of saint family who flees at the end of the novel And also the dead horse that, according to David, can become alive again after 3 days is a clear reference to the Christ story, etc But on many occasions, in the novel, David is just presented as an insatiable spoiled child.Some see the review by Vincent Blok on Goodreads propose a way of reading this novel in which David stands for the singularity that opposes the universal, the individual that opposes the rational organization of society, and demands the right to its own perspective and experience In this sense he is in line with the portrait I sketched of the older Simon And there is something to be said for that With this novel Coetzee would thus offer us a critical view on our culture, which suggests that in our overordered and hyper rationalist society there apparently is no place for deviant opinions and other ways of living And that is certainly a relevant message.I must say that I am not fully convinced The thesis certainly stands for the first half of the novel, especially because of the stubborn, often very philosophically charged questions that Simon continually asks But with the whole fuss about the little David in the second half of the novel, Coetzee goes a step further It seems as if we are going from a Kafkaian atmosphere into asurreal, beckettian environment Because of this transition even the stubborn Simon is forced into a defensive role, when he tries to teach David the basic principles of interaction between people, and demonstrates the need for transparent rules for reading, writing and arithmetic David continues to stubbornly reject it, and that makes it hard to follow his logic.At the end of the novel, old Simon seems to offer us a key by moving into David s mind,But what if we are wrong and he is right He says to his colleague Eugenio Suppose this boy is the only one who really sees through itIt is clear that Coetzee wants to get us out of our comfort zone with this contradiction And he certainly succeeded in that It makes me very curious about the next part The Schooldays of Jesus


  6. Leah Leah says:

    A hollow eggWhen I was young, Easter eggs were a double treat There was milk chocolate on the outside and then, when the egg was opened, there was an extra something inside, a small packet of Maltesers, Chocolate Buttons or, for the really lucky, Smarties Of course, note well that the Easter egg was also an allusion to the story of Christ What Coetzee has given us here is a hollow egg and one that is, like this introduction, candy coated with a thick layer of contrived and unsubtle sym A hollow eggWhen I was young, Easter eggs were a double treat There was milk chocolate on the outside and then, when the egg was opened, there was an extra something inside, a small packet of Maltesers, Chocolate Buttons or, for the really lucky, Smarties Of course, note well that the Easter egg was also an allusion to the story of Christ What Coetzee has given us here is a hollow egg and one that is, like this introduction, candy coated with a thick layer of contrived and unsubtle symbolism and allusion The book is set in an unnamed society, where immigrants arrive with all memory of their past wiped clean and with new names given to them by the authorities So we start with the arrival of Simon and the child of an unknown father, David yes, David Jesus only puts in an appearance through our friend Allusion The society is a simple one where money is plentiful but food is in short supply In fact, for the first couple of weeks, Simon and David are forced to live by bread alone a thing Simon really feels man cannot do However, the people of this new society are full of goodwill towards each other and happy with their lot along with the cricket bat over the head Christian symbolism, Coetzee s society seems to draw heavily from Huxley s Brave New World, with Simon playing a very civilised and philosophical John the Savage.Simon has taken responsibility for finding David s mother in this new world a task that seems impossible since not only do they not know her name or what she looks like, they also don t know David s real name symbolic, eh Nothing daunted, Simon decides that a woman he has just met is David s real mother and persuades her to accept him as her son She is, of course, a virgin David, we are told repeatedly, is an exceptional child though in what way is unclear those who love him accept his exceptionalism without question, one might say on faith, while the authorities soon come to believe he is disruptive and must be contained.The real problem with the book is that the symbolism is crashingly unsubtle, crammed into every nook and cranny, and yet ultimately signifies nothing By half way through I was actually beginning to count the references bread, tick fishes, tick wine, tick virgin mother, tick raising from the dead, tick resurrection after 3 days, tick At one point, as David watches Mickey Mouse on TV, Mickey s dog is referred to as Plato By that stage, I no longer knew whether this was typo, error or mysterious allusion, but sadly I suspect the latter There is also a real feeling of misogyny throughout the book, with the women being treated as not muchthan walking wombs or repositories for Simon s largely unfulfilled sexual urges though since I haven t read anything else by Coetzee, I couldn t decide if this reflected the author s own outlook, or whether it was again symbolic, perhaps of the male domination of the early Christian story.Despite all of the above, Coetzee s sparse writing style and use of language make the book a strangely compelling read and Simon in particular is an interesting character, if a little too caricatured as The Thinker The possibility exists throughout that the book might turn into something wonderful, that the author might pull the mass of symbolism into something profound and meaningful in the end But once the smooth and velvety chocolate of the prose has been savoured, there s nothing inside and the hollowness of the egg left this reader feeling unsatisfied and somewhat cheated


  7. Katherine Katherine says:

    The best kind of parable is one that can convey its meaning through its simplest reading while harbouring depths into which the reader can dive deeper and deeper without ever reaching a hard and fast moral at the bottom For me, what makes The Childhood of Jesus seem such a feat is the great complexity of thought it provokes through the telling of a relatively straight forward but very moving story, exploring ideas of morality without preaching or passing judgement.The novel follows a boy, The best kind of parable is one that can convey its meaning through its simplest reading while harbouring depths into which the reader can dive deeper and deeper without ever reaching a hard and fast moral at the bottom For me, what makes The Childhood of Jesus seem such a feat is the great complexity of thought it provokes through the telling of a relatively straight forward but very moving story, exploring ideas of morality without preaching or passing judgement.The novel follows a boy, David, and his guardian, Sim n s efforts to build a new life for themselves after seeking refuge in a country that is not their own They have brought nothing with them from where they have come from, not even their names, and they know nothing of the customs and workings of their strange new home While Sim n and David s story resonates with the current political climate its also quite timeless, as Coetzee s allusion to the story of Jesus suggests Along with a lack of chronological markers, although specified as Spanish speaking, the country that takes them is left geographically ambiguous and able to stand in for almost anywhere Despite this abstraction, the characters and the setting remain vivid and engaging The prose too was, unsurprisingly from the Nobel Laureate, starkly brilliant I was already an admirer of Coetzee, but this book convinced me of his genius


  8. Jonathan Jonathan says:

    There are moments in this novel when I felt that perhaps, at last, something interesting might be said But it was not to be There is not a single original bone in its body Trite, derivative and devoid of true depth Imagine a Saramago novel with all of the genius sucked out If this was by an unknown writer I may have stretched to two stars for some of the pages, but as I know what he is capable of, he gets one star and an F in big red pen.


  9. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    This had been sitting around on my shelves for years I read the first chapter and then quickly skimmed the rest I found it unutterably dull It wouldn t be fair of me to give a rating given that I barely glanced at the book, but I ll just say that it would take me a lot of secondary source reading to try to understand what was going on here, and it s not made me look forward to tryingfrom Coetzee especially not the presumed sequel, The Schooldays of Jesus, from the Booker longlist.Here This had been sitting around on my shelves for years I read the first chapter and then quickly skimmed the rest I found it unutterably dull It wouldn t be fair of me to give a rating given that I barely glanced at the book, but I ll just say that it would take me a lot of secondary source reading to try to understand what was going on here, and it s not made me look forward to tryingfrom Coetzee especially not the presumed sequel, The Schooldays of Jesus, from the Booker longlist.Here are two passages I did quite like, though I will bow my head to the force of the real I will call it submitting to the verdict of history.Children live in the present, not the past Why not take your lead from them Instead of waiting to be transfigured, why not try to be like a child again I won a copy in a Goodreads giveaway.


  10. Donato Donato says:

    Well well well, what do we have here Some sort of abstract allegory A parable or series of parables An anti philosophy rant A pro philosophy rant What is the nature of this book , the book itself practically begs us to ask.What is the nature of nature, what does it mean to live in this world,_how_ do you live in this world At times, the book seems to be a series of abstract, conceptual, philosophical conversations 1 But there s a story, too a strange, inexplicable story of a man Sim Well well well, what do we have here Some sort of abstract allegory A parable or series of parables An anti philosophy rant A pro philosophy rant What is the nature of this book , the book itself practically begs us to ask.What is the nature of nature, what does it mean to live in this world,_how_ do you live in this world At times, the book seems to be a series of abstract, conceptual, philosophical conversations 1 But there s a story, too a strange, inexplicable story of a man Sim n , a woman In s , and a young boy David together by chance , just trying to live and make sense of reality 2 We, too, are trying to make sense of the world imagined in the book, and perhaps by extension our own world.The characters speak Spanish and have Spanish names 3 , but of course it is written in English why Spanish Is it an English that sounds like it could have been translated from the Spanish No, not really Although the dialog does tend to sound foreign , in that it s not really contemporary idiomatic English Deliberate on the part of Coetzee of course, as we are in foreign territory here, a foreign reality it seems at one point the boy sings something in German but he and Sim n call it English The world is not familiar at all, and yet also familiar in a strange, it could be this way way why couldn t it why shouldn t it We are caught off guard, we are disoriented, disturbed perhaps sometimes the way things work in the book s world are eerily similar to the way they work in Belgium 4 What s going on here 5 Is it post apocalyptic, is it post ironic or post anything Maybe it s avant ironic or is it neither, maybe it s off to the side, parallel 6 The title is our only guide.Who is Jesus There is no mention of him in the book 7 But the title invites us to see Jesus in the boy The boy shuns violence turns the other cheek , tries to save people from harm, is called a gentle King , wants brothers to start a Brotherhood , claims to possess magical abilities and the ability to read minds, writes at one point I am the truth 225 So is it an attempt to imagine what the childhood of Jesus might have been like But maybe the real clue lies in Don Quixote the reason for the Spanish , which the boy takes a liking to and begins to read Sim n tells David that the author of the book is Benengeli no mention of Cervantes, perhaps because the spine is torn off 151 The boy thinks that Quixote is real, and of course he is real, because literature is real, just as Benengeli is as real as Cervantes Sim n says that Benengeli gave the book to the world, and that therefore it belongs to all of us 166 Also, David wants to go through the pages in a hurry because otherwise a hole will open there is throughout the idea of holes, gaps, cracks, and the fear of falling So maybe this book is necessary to fill in a hole, a literature hole, a small gap in the narrative of the world.The style is dry duh, it s Coetzee , and the book is not long, and yet there s so much there and something somehow manages to come out of it heart, some kind of magic, the desire to desire, the will to live and start a new life 1 aesthetics, goodwill, work, nature, history, memory, logic, language, faith, death, life, etc 2 Sim n wants a philosophy that shakes you , changes your life 238 3 Everyone has a name that s not really theirs It s been given to them, just as they ve been forced to learn Spanish 4 cheeky wink 5 The book doesn t tell us, maybe because it doesn t suffer from memories 58 6 The paintings of Neo Rauch, which I happened to see while reading the book, are almost a visual representation of the disorienting what world is this feeling that comes from the book 7 Who is God There is only one mention of God, at the end of the book But we don t live under the eye of God 274


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