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In March of 1960, white cops massacred 69 unarmed blacks in Sharpeville, South Africa. In 1961, uMkhonto we Sizwe [Spear of the Nation] was co-founded by Nelson Mandela to fight back against white racist rule. In 1964, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison. In 1976, between 176 and 700 black protesters were killed by white policemen in Soweto. Four thousand were injured.

Teaching in Cape Town after years in the UK and US, J. M. Coetzee published Life and Times of Michael K in 1983. Its epigraph, “War is the father of all and king of all. Some he shows as gods, others as men. Some he makes slaves, and others free.”

Although it’s a novel about war in South Africa, there wasn’t one, then or later, but war was definitely in the air, so Coetzee imagined it in detail. Though Coetzee was wrong in predicting war, his depiction of a society experiencing social breakdown, degradation, paucity and draconian restrictions resonates beyond place and time.

Above all, war is displacement, from all you’ve ever known, for nothing can prepare anyone for extreme violence that doesn’t end. Even if your meaty sack is still intact and banal, indiscriminate blood hasn’t filmed your retinas, you’ve been ejected from normalcy.

To emphasize Michael K’s displacement, Coetzee makes him a harelipped bastard who spent much of his childhood in a group home. Grown, he had no friends, much less women. K scraped by on the lowliest jobs, such as tending to a public bathroom at night, where he’s “oppressed by the brilliant neon light that shone off the white tiles and created a space without shadows.”

Then K got mugged, “On his way home from work late one Friday he was set upon in a subway by two men who beat him, took his watch, his money and his shoes, and left him lying stunned with a slash across his arm, a dislocated thumb and two broken ribs.”

Sounds like Cape Town today, or Philly, Chicago or Memphis, etc., but certainly not Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, Tirana or even Beirut, with its economic fiasco.

When K admitted his mother to a hospital, we got a better glimpse of a society in crisis, “She had spent five days lying in a corridor among scores of victims of stabbings and beatings and gunshot wounds who kept her awake with their noise, neglected by nurses who had no time to spend cheering up an old woman when there were young men dying spectacular deaths all about.”

Released, K’s mom returned to her tiny room in affluent Sea Point, where she’s a domestic servant. Triggered by a mere traffic accident, an orgy of rioting and looting then broke out:

Parked cars were smashed open and pushed broadside on into the street. Sirens announced the curfew and were ignored. An ambulance that arrived with a motorcycle escort turned about short of the barrier and raced off, chased by a hail of stones. Then from the balcony of a fourth-floor flat a man began to fire revolver shots. Amid screams the crowd dashed for cover, spreading into the beachfront apartment blocks, racing along the corridors, pounding upon doors, breaking windows and lights. The man with the revolver was hauled from his hiding-place, kicked into insensibility, and tossed down to the pavement. Some residents of the flats chose to cower in the dark behind locked doors, others fled into the streets. A woman, trapped at the end of a corridor, had her clothes torn from her body; someone slipped on a fire escape and broke an ankle. Doors were beaten down and flats ransacked. In the flat immediately above Anna K’s room, looters tore down curtains, heaped clothing on the floor, broke furniture, and lit a fire, which, though it did not spread, sent out dense clouds of smoke.

Nothing like that happened in white South Africa, and Sea Point is still elegant and pristine, with the best Chinese food in Cape Town, mostly to serve its large Jewish population.

Coetzee, though, didn’t have to overly strain his imagination, for he lived in the USA from 1965 to 1972, when black riots were common. He saw them on TV, at least. It’s a leap, however, to place such a scene in Sea Point. Even today, it’s overwhelmingly white.

Perhaps his time in the US also made Coetzee circumspect about race, especially if it suggests any foreboding about blacks, especially black revenge. Although there’s a race war here, race is never addressed, and even Michael K’s is unclear.

With his mom a domestic servant, it’s implied K was most likely not white. Nearly halfway through the novel, he’s booked at a police station as “Michael Visagie-CM-40-NFA-Unemployed.” Most readers, though, would miss that CM means colored male.

We get another tiny hint when a particularly nasty police captain is described as a “big blond man.” Railing against a group of vagrants, he accused them of being criminals, saboteurs, idlers and ingrates who, collectively, were behind South Africa’s turmoil, “You’ve asked for war, you get war!”

The you asking for war, then, were not blacks but, vaguely, society’s losers, oppressed or downtrodden. Coetzee is reframing South Africa’s racial problem as a Marxist battle between classes.

Though K was called a monkey by a farmer (a Boer, perhaps, for boer means farmer), two cops were also labeled as such by the angry blond captain.

In the camp for vagrants, an older man told K, “What they would really like—this is my opinion—is for the camp to be miles away in the middle of the Koup out of sight. Then we could come on tiptoe in the middle of the night like fairies and do their work, dig their gardens, wash their pots, and be gone in the morning leaving everything nice and clean.”

Although that describes Apartheid perfectly, that whites only want blacks for their labor, but otherwise to be mute and invisible, it is, again, reframed in Marxist terms, but only vaguely.

For a novel about South Africa, Apartheid, post-Apartheid or just general collapse, Life and Times of Michael K remains, ultimately, too abstract. For something much more grounded, thus more terrifying, we must turn to Disgrace, published 16 years later, when more evidence has been gathered.

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In 1990, Mandela was released. In 1993, four blacks used hand grenades and assault weapons to kill 11 whites and coloreds inside Saint James Church in Cape Town. Fifty-eight more were wounded. In 1994, Mandela was elected president, marking the end of white rule. In 1998, the three surviving assailants of the Saint James Church Massacre were given amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Only one, Gcinikhaya Makoma, had been jailed, and only for 5 ½ years.

(In 2002, Makoma was arrested for robbing a cash truck, but the badly prosecuted case was thrown out. In 2007, this enterprising revolutionary was finally sentenced to 46 years for one more murder, also in Cape Town.)

Still in Cape Town, Coetzee published his masterful Disgrace in 1999. Written during the immediate aftermath of Apartheid, it introduces all the key themes, or problems, that still define South Africa.

For me, though, its beginning is not too inviting, for I’m not keen on having a professor as protagonist, especially if his sex life, yuck, yuck, yuck, is described. Sure enough, the lickably lekker coed shows up in chapter 2, right after the tall and slim colored whore in chapter 1!

Coetzee is not subjecting us to David Lurie, professor of literature, lover of Byron and amateur operatist, because he himself was an academic. If it is in any way a self-portrait, then it is a supremely detached and damning one. Though Lurie may be seen as an overly civilized man in a society turned barbaric, it’s not quite that simple.

Lurie admits he hasn’t “much of an eye for anything, except pretty girls,” but that’s alright, for one mustn’t check one’s passion. He quotes Blake, “Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.” So well-read, Lurie can always spring some great line to justify anything.

Sometimes, just dropping a name is enough, for he can count on his audience to be culturally at sea, “Follow your temperament. It is not a philosophy, he would not dignify it with that name. It is a rule, like the Rule of St Benedict.”

Saint Benedict actually advises, “Let him keep himself at every moment from sins and vices, whether of the mind, the tongue, the hands, the feet, or the self-will, and check also the desires of the flesh […] We must be on our guard, therefore, against evil desires, for death lies close by the gate of pleasure.”

Ah, but the temperament is fixed and set, Lurie’s convinced. “The skull, followed by the temperament: the two hardest parts of the body.” Unzipping his stiff temperament, Lurie cites a teacher of self-control. Coetzee seeds his text with lots of wicked irony. A seemingly casual word, gesture or concept can also boomerang much later to whack or torch you.

When the verb burn first appears, it’s flameless, merely a figure of speech in discussing Wordsworth. Next, we have burning meat, but only at a braai in a farmer’s market. Lurie then remembers his students’ dullness to the perfective, as in burnt, “an action carried through to its conclusion.” Lurie gets his perfective burning conclusion alright, when he’s burnt. Just before it happens, Lurie even declares that real actions are needed instead of symbolism.

All that will come. Meanwhile, we’re still with a middle-aged man extending his salad days. Set and hardened, Lurie can’t help but seduce, and rather skillfully, given his experience with the pink chase, a student with “small breasts” and hips “as slim as a twelve-year-old’s.” “A child! he thinks: No more than a child! What am I doing? Yet his heart lurches with desire.”

According to this poetry swooning professor, it is a crime against nature to snuff out desire, and many of us would agree, since it is the most enlightened and au courant stance. “‘My case rests on the rights of desire,’ he says. ‘On the god who makes even the small birds quiver.’” Uninhibited, unchained and unleashed all sound good. Lurie doesn’t rape his student, after all.

Not quite:

She does not resist. All she does is avert herself—avert her lips, avert her eyes. She lets him lay her out on the bed and undress her: she even helps him, raising her arms and then her hips. Little shivers of cold run through her; as soon as she is bare, she slips under the quilted counterpane like a mole burrowing, and turns her back on him.

Not rape, not quite that, but undesired nevertheless, undesired to the core. As though she had decided to go slack, die within herself for the duration, like a rabbit when the jaws of the fox close on its neck. So that everything done to her might be done, as it were, far away.

It’s their second coupling, after he has shown up at her apartment unannounced, so that she’s “too surprised to resist the intruder,” but since it’s only passion, his, and his only, it’s justified, “Strange love! Yet from the quiver of Aphrodite, goddess of the foaming waves, no doubt about that.”

Though Lurie wants it to be no more than “a quick little affair—quickly in, quickly out,” it rapidly spins out of control, with the girl’s boyfriend, parents then, finally, the university all involved. Unwilling to be contrite, Lurie simply pleads guilty as charged, so is dismissed.

What does Lurie’s plight have to do with post-Apartheid South Africa? Plenty. We’ll get to it.

Fleeing his disgrace, Lurie takes refuge at his daughter’s farm in Salem, a good 542 miles away. City-raised and with even a stint in Holland, Lucy is a novice farmer, living alone. Her lesbian partner has just left.

Since Lurie has just screwed someone younger than Lucy, there’s sometimes a creepiness to their interactions, such as here, “He sits on the bed, idly fondles her bare foot. A good foot, shapely. Good bones, like her mother. A woman in the flower of her years, attractive despite the heaviness, despite the unflattering clothes.”

Lurie squeezes his daughter into a fleeting fantasy about households of three, “Three. That would be a solution of sorts. He and Lucy and Melanie. Or he and Melanie and Soraya.” The last is a married prostitute with two children.

With her dark, liquid eyes, Soraya still haunts him. Lurie has concluded that their intercourse “must be, he imagines, rather like the copulation of snakes: lengthy, absorbed, but rather abstract, rather dry, even at its hottest.” Only her eyes are wet, professor.

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Lurie can’t help but rue Lucy’s sexual bent, “Attractive, he is thinking, yet lost to men. Need he reproach himself, or would it have worked out like that anyway? From the day his daughter was born he has felt for her nothing but the most spontaneous, most unstinting love. Impossible she has been unaware of it. Has it been too much, that love? Has she found it a burden? Has it pressed down on her? Has she given it a darker reading?”

Odd, but not so odd, to think that his pressing down on her with a frantic, insatiable and self-absorbed burden may have steered the woman towards the female.

Constantly appraising women, Lurie finds Lucy’s best friend repulsive, “He has not taken to Bev Shaw, a dumpy, bustling little woman with black freckles, close-cropped, wiry hair, and no neck. He does not like women who make no effort to be attractive.”

Lurie also doesn’t think much of her unpaid stewardship of an animal clinic, to which Lucy also volunteers, “That’s wonderful, then. I’m sorry, my child, I just find it hard to whip up an interest in the subject. It’s admirable, what you do, what she does, but to me animal-welfare people are a bit like Christians of a certain kind. Everyone is so cheerful and well-intentioned that after a while you itch to go off and do some raping and pillaging. Or to kick a cat.”

The very next time raping appears in this novel, it’s no longer just a word, casually spat out.

As the white father and daughter walk home with two Dobermanns, they encounter three strange blacks. Reaching their house, they’re surprised to see the same blacks, one of whom is described by Coetzee as tall and “handsome, strikingly handsome, with a high forehead, sculpted cheekbones, wide, flaring nostrils.”

Obeying some obscure logic, the white woman disarms herself by caging her Dobermanns, before asking these blacks what they want. One explains that they must use her phone because of an accident, a bad accident, which, almost immediately, turns into the handsome one’s sister having a baby. Since the blacks are from a village without phone, it makes enough sense for the white woman to let the tall, handsome black man inside.

Over six harrowing pages, we read about these blacks ransacking the house, shooting the dogs, hitting Lurie then setting his head on fire, stealing everything of value, including his car, and, yes, raping Lucy, all three of them, including one described as just a boy. When not learning sexual violence, this apprentice in a flowered shirt eats from a tub of ice cream. Done with their work, these blacks laugh and drive off.

In the middle of the mayhem, Coetzee inserts this reflection, “He speaks Italian, he speaks French, but Italian and French will not save him here in darkest Africa. He is helpless, an Aunt Sally, a figure from a cartoon, a missionary in cassock and topi waiting with clasped hands and upcast eyes while the savages jaw away in their own lingo preparatory to plunging him into their boiling cauldron. Mission work: what has it left behind, that huge enterprise of upliftment? Nothing that he can see.”

With a burnt ear and all his hair burnt off, perfective tense, Lurie also muses:

It happens every day, every hour, every minute, he tells himself, in every quarter of the country. Count yourself lucky to have escaped with your life. Count yourself lucky not to be a prisoner in the car at this moment, speeding away, or at the bottom of a donga with a bullet in your head. Count Lucy lucky too. Above all Lucy.

A risk to own anything: a car, a pair of shoes, a packet of cigarettes. Not enough to go around, not enough cars, shoes, cigarettes. Too many people, too few things. What there is must go into circulation, so that everyone can have a chance to be happy for a day. That is the theory; hold to the theory and to the comforts of theory. Not human evil, just a vast circulatory system, to whose workings pity and terror are irrelevant. That is how one must see life in this country: in its schematic aspect. Otherwise one could go mad. Cars, shoes; women too. There must be some niche in the system for women and what happens to them.

Though this violence is Disgrace’s most startling incident, it’s not its main thrust. Lucy’s response is.

To the police, she only reports being robbed. When the boy rapist turns out to be related to a man, Petrus, she has sold land to and employed, Lucy does nothing.

Petrus’ complicity is also indicated by his convenient disappearance on that terrible night. As her closest neighbor, and also a friend, so she thought, Petrus would certainly be expected to come to Lucy’s rescue.

It gets even weirder. Finding out she’s pregnant from the rape, Lucy decides to keep the baby, and not from any religious conviction. She has told her dad there’s no higher life, “This is the only life there is. Which we share with animals.”

She’s also made peace with the fact that her baby’s father may be the boy rapist. Having moved into Petrus’ house, he’s now her neighbor. When Lurie beats the boy after catching him peeping outside Lucy’s window, she’s not mad at the youthful monster, but her father!

Most astoundingly, Lucy’s willing to give her land to Petrus and even to marry him, just to be unharmed. She tells Lurie:

“Go back to Petrus,” she says. “Propose the following. Say I accept his protection. Say he can put out whatever story he likes about our relationship and I won’t contradict him. If he wants me to be known as his third wife, so be it. As his concubine, ditto. But then the child becomes his too. The child becomes part of his family. As for the land, say I will sign the land over to him as long as the house remains mine. I will become a tenant on his land.”

Although Lurie fights against each of Lucy’s concession or surrender, it’s not his life to decide:

“How humiliating,” he says finally. “Such high hopes, and to end like this.”

“Yes, I agree, it is humiliating. But perhaps that is a good point to start from again. Perhaps that is what I must learn to accept. To start at ground level. With nothing. Not with nothing but. With nothing. No cards, no weapons, no property, no rights, no dignity.”

“Like a dog.”

“Yes, like a dog.”

This Boer, then, will accept outrageous conditions just to be allowed to stay on her land, in her South Africa, and since she’s a true Boer, a farmer, she won’t even go to Cape Town, much less Amsterdam.

Her urban and urbane father, too, has moved to the country, but not into her home. Taking a room in nearby Grahamstown, Lurie can visit Lucy regularly, and his grandson, too.

ORDER IT NOW

“What will it entail, being a grandfather? As a father he has not been much of a success, despite trying harder than most. As a grandfather he will probably score lower than average too. He lacks the virtues of the old: equanimity, kindliness, patience. But perhaps those virtues will come as other virtues go: the virtue of passion, for instance. He must have a look again at Victor Hugo, poet of grandfatherhood. There may be things to learn.”

Easing up on passion, Lurie still thinks of it as a virtue, but that’s another of Coetzee’s jokes, or jabs, at his protagonist. Another is Lurie’s affair with Bev. Yes, the one he found so repulsive.

After their first congress, dutifully performed on the floor in the animal clinic, our aging playboy reflects, “Let me not forget this day, he tells himself, lying beside her when they are spent. After the sweet young flesh of Melanie Isaacs, this is what I have come to. This is what I will have to get used to, this and even less than this.”

Although Lurie has insisted he was too old to change, he’s been transformed, into one who even cares deeply about the abandoned dogs at Bev’s clinic. After their lame lovemaking has petered out, he’s still her unpaid assistant, a conscientious dog man.

Unchecked passion defines not just Lurie, the horny professor, but also those blacks who rape his daughter, for isn’t revenge the ultimate unchecked passion?

Pressed by a reporter about his affair with the coed, Lurie says he has no regrets, but is rather “enriched by the experience.”

Later, he remembers all those women he has screwed, wives of colleagues, tourists, students, hitchhikers and whores, etc., and again concludes:

Enriched: that was the word the newspapers picked on to jeer at. A stupid word to let slip, under the circumstances, yet now, at this moment, he would stand by it. By Melanie, by the girl in Touws River; by Rosalind, Bev Shaw, Soraya: by each of them he was enriched, and by the others too, even the least of them, even the failures. Like a flower blooming in his breast, his heart floods with thankfulness.

Of course lust is greed, so enriched is apt. It was never about any of the women Lurie claimed to love, but the conquering man. Ditto the black rapists. Passion isn’t just suffering, as in the Passion of Christ, but selfish satisfaction. To be perfect, perfective, it has to be spent.

Lucy to her dad:

“Hatred… When it comes to men and sex, David, nothing surprises me any more. Maybe, for men, hating the woman makes sex more exciting. You are a man, you ought to know. When you have sex with someone strange—when you trap her, hold her down, get her under you, put all your weight on her—isn’t it a bit like killing? Pushing the knife in; exiting afterwards, leaving the body behind covered in blood—doesn’t it feel like murder, like getting away with murder?”

While you may dismiss it as a channeling of Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse, Lucy’s a lesbian who has just been raped by three men. Screwing “someone strange,” the key phrase above, is also a lot like raping, and that’s its liberation, peace and joy.

Lucy also thinks, “They see themselves as debt collectors, tax collectors. Why should I be allowed to live here without paying? Perhaps that is what they tell themselves.”

Coetzee emigrated to Australia, but the fictional Lurie and Lucy stay on, as do nearly five million other whites, not to mention many coloreds who are practically white. I’ve met a few.

Though many have paid a terrible price for just staying in post-Apartheid South Africa, most have not. Many have thrived, especially here in Cape Town. Responding to my article about dockside prostitutes, as seen through the eyes of writer Henry Trotter and photographer Billy Monk, a Capetonian complains:

Why write about the sordid, what about the beauty of the Cape.

Hey try Camps Bay, I took a niece from England to lunch there and her comment was that I live in paradise.

The violence that does happen here is no different to anywhere else in the world today.

It is also mainly confined to a few dormitory towns of which no visitor would normally go to.

Going often to where most visitors don’t stray, I almost got mugged by three young blacks, but check your schadenfreude, I managed to lose nothing. Had those youths been more professional or passionate, I would have gotten a few nicks, at least.

I’ve also been to paradisal Camps Bay a few times. With sublime Table Mountain a God-given defensive wall, Camps Bay’s million dollar homes glow golden each dusk, as another sun sinks into the Atlantic. Retired couples stroll its beach. Blond children frolic on sidewalks. Babes jog.

White South Africa began right here in 1652. Fanning out, the Boers needed so many slaves, local blacks weren’t enough, so many more slaves were brought in, from Madagascar and even distant Southeast Asia.

When the British took over Cape Town in 1806, it had 16,000 people. Ten thousand were slaves. Most of the free blacks were also treated, more or less, like slaves.

Expanding their dominion over southern Africa, the British abolished slavery, yet Boers continued to kidnap and enslave blacks, whom they rebranded as “apprentices.”

Leaving Europe, Boers fled civilization. Americans did the same. Though weakening, this frontier mentality persists.

On October 18th, 1879, Garnet Wolseley noted in his diary:

A Boer’s idea of life is, that he should pay no taxes of any sort or kind, that he should be amenable to no sort of law he disliked, that there should be no police to keep order, that he should be allowed to kill or punish the Natives as he thought fit, that no progress towards civilization should be attempted, that all foreigners should be kept out of the country & that he should be surrounded by a waste of land many miles of extent each way which he called his farm, in fact that he should have no neighbours as the smoke of another man’s fire was an abomination to him. These Transvaal Boers are the only white race I know of that has steadily been going back towards barbarism. They seem to be influenced by some savage instinct which causes them to fly from civilization… Altogether I regard them as the lowest in the scale of white men & to be also the very most interesting people I have ever known or studied.

This sheds light on Lucy’s insistence on being a farmer. It also explains what she had to endure. Savagery is a passion.

Linh Dinh’s latest book is Postcards from the End of America. He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

 
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  1. Anon[215] • Disclaimer says:

    You are a far braver man than I, reading J M Coetzee, a professor so far up his own backside that his very vision was filmed in brown. Perhaps you would like to research a few other things in South Africa, you know, like the limpet bomb in the burger joint at the Christmas school holidays, sited so that it would get the litllies in the heads and the teens in the guts. Maybe even mention the massive car bomb in Church street in Pretoria. A really good anecdote for you would be how the four “freedom fighters” at the St Jame’s church massacre who were all armed with AK47s and grenades fled when fired upon by a parishioner with a snub nosed .38 special five shot revolver, oh how brave they were!

    • Agree: Rebel Roy
  2. Dumbo says:

    Thanks for the spoilers! 😉

    But, I didn’t plan to read Coetzee anyway. He seems like a liberal that writes about things I don’t care so much about. Is he like a South African Philip Roth? That book synopsis reminded me a bit of the Human Stain, about another dreadful university professor with hots for students, and which is one of Roth’s worse novels.

    But he’s not Jewish, so perhaps more like Ian MacEwan?

    • Agree: 36 ulster
    • Replies: @Memejon
  3. Stogumber says:

    With so much noble and adjusted sentiments – being the perfect advocate for humanitarian interventions British-style – why for God’s sake cannot Linh Dinh get a salary from the neocon media and leave his unfortunate malexistence here in the log cabins of Unz’ grace? He might even afford a house at Camps Bay!
    We all know why: He’s still obsessed by the Jews, feeling persecuted by them. But there’s hope: Contacts with South African Jews, who don’t know him from Adam, may help him to overcome this idiosyncrasy and live a happy life ever after …

  4. Jim H says:

    ‘Leaving Europe, Boers fled civilization. Americans did the same. Though weakening, this frontier mentality persists.’ — Linh Dinh

    America’s frontier was settled from the east coast westward, while the Boers set out from Cape Town and headed east.

    Why did America’s nomadic Native Americans end up co-opted, impoverished and rendered unhealthy by the white man’s domination, while African blacks ultimately prevailed over apartheid with their vastly superior numbers?

    If only old Hendrik Verwoerd had had the foresight to establish a self-governing bantustan for the white tribe — not unlike the strange, hybrid partial autonomy of Indian reservations in the US. Or maybe for three white tribes: the Boers, the English and the Jews.

    ‘[K] is booked at a police station as “Michael Visagie-CM-40-NFA-Unemployed.” Most readers, though, would miss that CM means colored male.’ — LD

    Coetzee’s circumspection about race is reminiscent of Nabokov’s treatment of Humbert Humbert in Lolita, as recounted by his Jewish annotator Alfred Appel, Jr:

    ‘In the hotel “Humbert” is misunderstood and distorted into a Jewish-sounding “Humberg,” just as “Professor Hamburg” now finds the hotel full. “Refugee” H.H. is often mistaken for a Jew; [such as] when John Farlow is on the point of making an anti-Semitic remark and is interrupted by sensitive Jean.

    ‘Quilty thinks H.H. may be a “German refugee,” and reminds him, “This is a Gentile’s house, you know.”‘

    Coetzee’s character David Lurie seems to have a Jewish name. Not having read Disgrace, I presume Lurie’s ethnicity is similarly kept ambivalent?

    • Replies: @Dumbo
    , @gT
    , @Ray Caruso
  5. Sounds like a really awful book.

    • Agree: Rebel Roy, Rogue
  6. Dumbo says:
    @Jim H

    Interesting point about “Lolita”. Something like Humberg would actuall makes more sense than “Humbert Humbert”, an obvious pseudonym. And him being Jewish would make sense, too.

    But what about Quilty, then? Who is he, one of those old aristocratic Anglo pedophiles? I’ve read the novel a long time ago, and don’t remember all that much.

  7. I wonder if Coetzee is related to boxer Gerry Coetzee, most famous for flattening Leon Spinks in one round (in Spinks’ first fight after splitting two fights with Muhammad Ali).

    • Replies: @Rogue
  8. Emslander says:

    This must be the real Linh Dinh, a middling writer who has only one real talent, the ability to make the reader too disgusted to complain. It’s to what he always returns, even when he’s hinted at something greater.

    • Agree: PJ London
  9. Wyatt says:

    A Boer’s idea of life is, that he should pay no taxes of any sort or kind, that he should be amenable to no sort of law he disliked, that there should be no police to keep order, that he should be allowed to kill or punish the Natives as he thought fit, that all foreigners should be kept out of the country & that he should be surrounded by a waste of land many miles of extent each way which he called his farm, in fact that he should have no neighbours as the smoke of another man’s fire was an abomination to him.

    I don’t get it. What exactly is wrong with this?

    • Agree: Rebel Roy, Rurik
    • LOL: Jim H, 3g4me
  10. Cowboy says:

    Leaving Europe, Boers fled civilization. Americans did the same. Though weakening, this frontier mentality persists.

    Yes. Pilgrims need an Evangelist to stay on course.

    [MORE]

    He to whom thou wast sent for ease, being by name Legality, is
    the son of the bond-woman which now is, and is in bondage with
    her children; and is, in a mystery, this Mount Sinai, which thou
    hast feared will fall on thy head. Now, if she, with her
    children, are in bondage, how canst thou expect by them to be
    made free? This Legality, therefore, is not able to set thee
    free from thy burden. No man was as yet ever rid of his burden
    by him; no, nor ever is like to be: ye cannot be justified by
    the works of the law; for by the deeds of the law no man living
    can be rid of his burden: therefore, Mr. Worldly Wiseman is an
    alien, and Mr. Legality is a cheat; and for his son Civility,
    notwithstanding his simpering looks, he is but a hypocrite and
    cannot help thee.
    Believe me, there is nothing in all this
    noise, that thou hast heard of sottish men, but a design to
    beguile thee of thy salvation, by turning thee from the way in
    which I had set thee. After this, Evangelist called aloud to the
    heavens for confirmation of what he had said: and with that
    there came words and fire out of the mountain under which poor
    Christian stood, that made the hair of his flesh stand up. The
    words were thus pronounced: As many as are of the works of the
    law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one
    that continueth not in all things which are written in the book
    of the law to do them.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  11. Coetzee writes about suffering and loss from the perspective of survivors/witnesses. His books can be painful to read as the reader suffers along with the protagonist. Those who don’t “get” Coetzee may find him tedious and unpleasant. His protagonists and their adventures are not the kind we would vicariously identify with in Hollywood-style escapist entertainments: Michael K. is a dirt-poor uneducated street person, a nobody, who becomes a starving refugee, a kind of Kafkaesque hunger artist, in the midst of a violent social collapse. Disgrace‘s David Lurie witnesses the collapse of Western civilization from a higher perch, but like the Professor in Paul Bowles’ “A Distant Episode” he has to be mutilated to lose his pompous academic ego and meet Reality. The narrator of Waiting for the Barbarians likewise suffers as he witnesses the collapse of civilization from the standpoint of a “disgraced” petty bureaucrat.

    What makes the suffering of these pathetic nonentities worth reading about? Coetzee offers a clue in The Master of Petersburg, which imagines Doestoevsky facing the horrific loss of his stepson Pavel, murdered by the nihilist terrorist Nechayev (the demonic inspiration of Demons—see https://www.unz.com/kbarrett/attack-of-the-nihilists/ .) Doestoevsky’s fictional loss in the novel parallels Coetzee’s real-life loss of his 23-year-old son in an apparent accident.

    It seems that Coetzee, like Dostoevsky, has noticed that horrific suffering and loss can be (a) worth exploring in literature, and (b) not without a certain redeeming value in that it expands consciousness by breaking down the ego, allowing vastly deeper and richer perceptions of meaning than are available to ordinary non-suffering consciousness. So the fact that we are all fated to suffer and die, and that our civilization likewise appears to be approaching its death agonies, offers us not only unspeakable torment, but also the promise of a vastly deeper and richer experience than normal healthy life in a complacently comfortable ego in a stable, thriving civilization could ever afford.

    Some might call that vision morbid. I’d just call it realistic.

    • Agree: Curle
    • LOL: Emslander
    • Replies: @Montefrío
  12. We can now conclude that we must read Linh Dinh with some allowance for poetic license. Once you announce that you are leaving unz review, and you don’t, your work suffers a loss in truth value.

    • Replies: @SafeNow
    , @Biff
  13. gT says:
    @Jim H

    “Why did America’s nomadic Native Americans end up co-opted, impoverished and rendered unhealthy by the white man’s domination, while African blacks ultimately a prevailed over apartheid with their vastly superior numbers?”

    Easy, the Native Americans were basically hunter gatherers, and they had weird notions like only having a child every 2 years so as to give enough attention to each kid. Plus the Native Americans had not encountered diseases like small pox before. The African Blacks on the other hand were pastoralists and agriculturists, not hunter gatherers, so they had vast numbers of peoples, with agriculture the population numbers just explode. Plus because the Blacks in Southern Africa all originated from up north, they had encountered all the diseases Whites had experienced in Europe, and then some. The Zulus had a neat trick, if fired upon they would simply lie down on the ground in the long grass, and they could wait till nightfall like that. The grass can easily grow to higher than the height of a man in KZN. Your average Boer farmer was lucky if he could afford to fire like a dozen rounds a week.

    • Replies: @Anon
  14. Wild Bill says:
    @RadicalCenter

    While it was not Linh’s usual offering, I think it was a wonderful departure. Linh is clearly expanding his horizons on mankind. For us, the humble readers, it is a beautiful distraction from our own daily concerns and serves to place those concerns in a more suitable light of diminished importance. Whatever our battles may be, we can be more confident in winning them because we are not nearly as crazy as some of his subject matter.

    • Agree: Curle
    • LOL: Emslander
  15. SafeNow says:
    @Michael Meo

    “with some allowance for poetic license.”

    As I have posted before, I have read all of the books of the great travel writer Paul Theroux, and LD is right up there with him. I agree completely with you “poetic license” comment. Here, Aldi’s history fourth row off until

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  16. Equitable distribution of wealth would have fixed all that. Funny how equitable distribution of wealth never even occurs to you people.

    No no. Let the billionaires gini go up and up and up until they have everything and we have nothing whatsoever. It’s only fair.

  17. Anonymous[410] • Disclaimer says:

    Already another article from my favorite TUR columnist? Thanks, Linh!

    And please pay no heed to the ((trolls)) who attack you with their laughably feeble criticism.

  18. Biff says:
    @Michael Meo

    We can now conclude that we must read Linh Dinh with some allowance for poetic license. Once you announce that you are leaving unz review, and you don’t, your work suffers a loss in truth value.

    He did leave, but was persuaded to come back by some of his ardent fans and maybe even Ron Unz himself. You can get off your high horse(Shetland pony) now.

  19. Rebel Roy says:

    That novel seems ridiculous and absurd.Just the author trying to demean Whites.And Whites were in South Africa first,then met warring Zulu’s further north who just arrived.White food,jobs and medicine are the reason the cursed ones numbers exploded,and also Whites had put a stop to them murdering each other.I say they should have let them wipe each other out.Now look what they have.But the Jew would have have found a way to flood them with Blacks sooner or later.Why write on this garbage Linh,I’d rather hear about you buying a Gatsby and meeting some new friends.At least you didn’t feed the trolls this time.

    • Replies: @Montefrío
    , @Rev. Spooner
  20. Ivymike says:

    I read Waiting For The Barbarians back in 1980. It is such a good novel I’ve never been able to finish anything else Coetzee wrote. Like Camus writing about Algeria, add in Bernard Fall writing about Vietnam if Bernard Fall had ever written fiction instead of the hardest truth. The untidy, distasteful end of Empire. Because of my experience with Vietnam Barbarians described the end of the American experience there as if it were a perfect dream. Beautifully written, emotionally restrained. Perfect foretelling of the end of the GWOT. Torture, casual murder, failure of leadership military and political, an infatuation with the cripples we leave behind.

  21. TKK says:

    It worries me that as I get older, I don’t want to read fiction anymore. I gravitate toward non fiction now or watching documentaries.

    Fiction used to be my secret delight. A stack of library books, a long night when it was cold and dark outside , eating brown beans with onions cooked all day with , fried potatoes & corn bread with honey butter. I read while my dogs snoozed beside me or rolled around with their toys.

    I need to force myself to read fiction again. I have been on the hunt for John D. MacDonald novels.

    It seems I have been soul sickened by politics, and can’t stop reading about the state of the world- soaking my brain in more misery even as it makes me more panicked and angry.

    • Agree: Commentator Mike
    • Replies: @Rabbitnexus
    , @Dumbo
    , @willem1
  22. Again; I am very glad that Linh Dinh continues to grace UNZ with his amazing words. Thank you for staying!

  23. Rogue says:

    I knew about Coetzee, and that he was supposed to be a great writer.

    Based on the above article, I will ensure to thoroughly avoid any of his stuff.

    Farm attacks by Blacks in South Africa are certainly real enough, but the fictitious characters in the Coetzee story – and what they do after their ordeal – are just plain absurd.

  24. Anon[236] • Disclaimer says:
    @gT

    You are incorrect about the blacks in South Africa, they were actually wandering herdsmen, with herds of Zebu cattle who would arrive and stay until the grass was eaten and the water was polluted then move on. The only tribe who practiced agriculture where the Venda in the far north of the country on the banks of the Limpopo river. Something the learned from the Shona people in what is now Zimbabwe, I assume

    • Replies: @Curmudgeon
    , @gT
  25. Rogue says:

    The excerpt from General Wolsley, and his somewhat unflattering description of the Boers, needs a bit of context.

    The Transvaal had been a self-governing Boer Republic, but was annexed by the British in the 1870s. The Boers initially put up with it due to their own rather faulty administration, but after a short while they were demanding self-rule once more.

    The Boers and the British didn’t see eye to eye for all kinds of reasons, including cultural and religious reasons but, unsurprisingly, the biggest reason would obviously have been that the Boers simply wanted their independence back.

    When a change of government took place in the UK, the new Prime Minister and cabinet reneged on their promise to allow the Transvaal to have independence back.

    Whereupon the Boers took up arms in 1881 and fought the First Boer War against the British. After a number of inconclusive engagements where the Boers generally faired better, the British suffered a humiliating one-sided defeat in the last battle of that fairly short war.

    The British government then changed their mind and gave the Transvaal back to the Boers, but not with a complete sovereignty. Basically, the Transvaal could govern it’s own internal affairs, but had to defer to Britain in foreign affairs.

    The Boers agreed to this arrangement, but then an enormous amount of gold was discovered, which would sour and complicate matters leading to the much bigger and longer Boer War less than 2 decades later.

    General Wolsley’s comment – a couple of years before the first war – about the Boers has to be seen in the context of the British having contempt for the Boers and their fighting ability, due to the fact that the last battle fought between Boers and British before that had been 3 decades earlier, and the British had won easily enough. Also, the Transvaal Boers had been struggling against local black tribes and not getting the upper hand. When the British annexed the Transvaal they defeated these local tribes in short order.

    After the First Boer War, it was the Boers having contempt for the fighting abilities of the British.

    Unfortunately, such hubris (by both sides) would, and did, lead to a lot of painful reality.

    In the 2nd Boer War the British would suffer a number of painful and humiliating defeats once more, due to poor leadership more than anything else, but ultimately (and inevitably) prevail. Though the Boers were man for man superior to the British tactically, they would discover that the notion of “one of us against ten of them” had no basis in reality.

    In short, don’t underestimate your enemy and have contempt for them before meeting them in battle.

    • Replies: @Dumbo
  26. Your most obsessed detractors are always the first to comment. You really should give them more. It must be frustrating for them to wait so long, checking the site hourly in hopes you’ve written something they at least seem to read. No sign they haven’t read thoroughly I have noticed.

    I think it’s a wonderful world and you bring aspects of it to my attention in a way that is familiar enough with enough references shared that the new is always part of a continuum for me. The book does sound like shit though.

    • Replies: @Rogue
    , @RadicalCenter
  27. @TKK

    I’m the same. Documentaries and non-fiction for me now too. Fiction just seems like a waste of time and I’m running out of time faster as I age.

    • Agree: Rogue, TKK, Irish Savant
    • Replies: @TKK
  28. Didn’t Linh Dinh quit writing for this site because of boors like me who use the dreaded n-word? Glad to see he manned up a bit and changed his mind. I find his stuff mildly interesting and I share his view that the US is finished.

  29. I thought Linh hated us all and wasn’t going to ever publish anything here again. What’s the story on that then?

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Henry's Cat
  30. Arno says:

    A ‘Boer’ in the South African context is a member of an ethnic group. While some Boers are farmers, not all farmers are Boers. Although many farmers in the Western Cape are Afrikaners, contrary to the author’s claim, a farmer in the Western Cape is not a Boer – particularly not one with the surname ‘Lurie.’

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  31. Rogue says:

    In March of 1960, white cops massacred 69 unarmed blacks in Sharpeville, South Africa.

    Some context is needed here.

    A couple of months before Sharpeville, an incident took place at a place called Cato Manor in South Africa, when a number of White and Black cops were set upon by a hostile Black crowd. Not only were these cops all killed, but their bodies were utterly mutilated afterwards.

    At Sharpeville a radical Black South African group (the PAC – also the same lot who organized the St James Church attack mentioned in the article) stirred up a large crowd to go demonstrate at the local police station or compound.

    They were instructed that their demonstration was illegal as no official authorisation had been granted, but they gathered anyway.

    After some time they pressed up against the fence of the police compound in an aggressive manner. This was not a peaceful demonstration. It might have begun as one but definitely became very hostile later on.

    Initially, there had been less than 20 cops at this police station, but eventually a much larger number of reinforcements were brought in.

    Officially, the crowd was only armed with stones, but I’m wary about that. Usually, when Black South Africans gathered in large numbers, they would often carry pangas (machetes) and assegaais (stabbing spears) and assorted other traditional weaponry. Some cops claim that some in the crowd had guns as well. Whilst unlikely, this crowd was many thousands strong, so who knows.

    As well, and still today even, many Blacks in SA believe in magic potions, which they acquire from sangomas (witch-doctors), that they believe will protect them from police bullets. I strongly suspect many in the crowd might have taken some of this muti (medicine or magic potion).

    Granted, the last 2 paragraphs are my own speculation, but not without foundation.

    In any event, the police commander told his men to not fire unless he gave the order to do so. However, a shot eventually rang out and with that the cops let fly with everything they had.

    The commander never did give the order to fire, so what happened? Some of the cops claimed a shot was fired at them from the crowd. Maybe, but more likely these nervous cops were thinking of the fate that had befallen their colleagues at Cato Manor just a couple of months previous, and one of them fired – either purposefully or by accident.

    Certainly, the optics of this mass shooting was bad, with the casualties including women and children, and many shot in the back as they were fleeing.

    But the popular notion that a crowd was peacefully demonstrating and then, for no apparent reason, the cops started gunning them down – is simply quite false.

    • Replies: @PJ London
    , @Curmudgeon
  32. neutral says:
    @obwandiyag

    I am hardly a fan of billionaires, because a lot of them are jews, but the distribution of wealth is not just about billionaires. What it really means is that some races need to hand over their time and money to support other races, so whites need to give to blacks, and because blacks will never be at the level of whites you will never achieve equitable distribution of wealth. If you really try to defy nature and try to have blacks making the same money as whites you will just end up with white flight, and if you ban white flight you will just end up with something like Cuba were everyone is equally poor.

  33. Freddie_N says:

    I could have sworn that you announced you were leaving this site a week ago on account of the racism here. The fact that you didn’t speaks to the sincerity of your writing.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
  34. @Kevin Barrett

    I’ll go with morbid. “Normal healthy life…” can prove to be surprisingly deep and rich, particularly of one is fortunate enough to live a long one. Having lived without “horrific suffering and loss” I suppose I’ve missed out on “vastly deeper and richer perceptions of meaning”, but I’m content with my personal perceptions of meaning at the three-quarter century mark.

    • Replies: @anon
  35. Adrian says:

    On October 18th, 1879, Garnet Wolseley noted in his diary:

    A Boer’s idea of life is, that he should pay no taxes of any sort or kind, that he should be amenable to no sort of law he disliked, that there should be no police to keep order, that he should be allowed to kill or punish the Natives as he thought fit, that no progress towards civilization should be attempted, that all foreigners should be kept out of the country & that he should be surrounded by a waste of land many miles of extent each way which he called his farm, in fact that he should have no neighbours as the smoke of another man’s fire was an abomination to him. These Transvaal Boers are the only white race I know of that has steadily been going back towards barbarism. They seem to be influenced by some savage instinct which causes them to fly from civilization… Altogether I regard them as the lowest in the scale of white men & to be also the very most interesting people I have ever known or studied.

    An interesting part of the wereld Linh and you write interestingly about it.

    If I remember correctly sweet Melanie belonged to that mestizo group classified as the “ coloured” under apartheid. Ranked higher than the blacks but lower than the whites. Later in the story the professor meets her parents who seem to be willing to forgive and forget. The missions did not work in vain as far as they were concerned.

    The quote from Wolseley is typical of the British disdain for the Afrikaners, that is the Boers. Just over a year after he wrote these words the first Boer War erupted in which the British troops were comprehensively beaten by the Boers with most of the losses being on the British side.

    By that time the Boers had already founded two republics, de Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (called “Transvaal” by the British) and Oranje Vrijstaat. These states had most of the institutional appurtenances of a modern Western state of the time.

    And this barely one generation after the Great Trek from the British controlled region around the Cape had started. So much for the savage individuals of Wolseley’s caricature who allegedly couldn’t stand seeing the smoke of their neighbour’s fireplace.

    The military lessons of the first Boer War were speedily forgotten and the disdain lingered.

    When the Second Boer War erupted. some time at the end of 1899, the expectation was that the war against those uncivilised civilians would be over by Christmas. Troops on the way from Britain by boat feared that they would miss out on the fun. Instead the war started again with resounding defeats for the British (in “Black Week”) and lasted about twoandahalf years. It could only be ended by Kitchener adolpting a scorched earth policy, destroying the Boer farms that supplied the Boer guerillas and herding the women and children into concentration camps where more than 26,000 died (on a very small population) through malnutrition and neglect.
    Ultimately the British fielded an army of about 400,000, outnumbering the combined total populations of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (Transvaal) and Oranje Vrijstaat.

    The savages of Wolseley had no regular army but had organised themselves into groups of burger militias (“kommandos”) choosing their own officers. They had obtained artillery and rifles from Germany that were superior to those of the British.

    The Boer generals had very diverse careers after the war – there was on the one hand Jan Smuts who became a British Field Marshall, a Premier of independent South Africa and a member of the Imperial War Cabinet in both World Wars. There was on the other General Koos de la Rey who tried to make common cause with German South West Africa during the First World War, got a posse sent by Smuts in pursuit of him and was shot while trying to swim across a river.

    The small Australian town where we are living has a main entrance called the Transvaal Lane. There used to be a billboard there with a large scale photograph of the largest public gathering until then ever held in this town in celebration of the relief of Ladysmith (then besieged by the Boers) sometime in 1900. But we are in Woke times now and the photograph has been removed. A small monument in commemoration of the Boer War mentions also the number of civilian Boer victims and has two pillars with on one of them the text Lest We Forget and on the other, in neat Afrikaans, “Laat ons nie vergeet nie”. Yes let us not do that.

    There is as far as I am concerned little chance that I will do so because the Boers were among the heroes of my youthful reading. They competed for place in my pantheon with the American noble red Indian Winnetou and his friend, the fearless white hunter Old Shatterhand – concoctions of the German writer Karl May who never got to America.

    • Thanks: Rogue
    • Replies: @Adrian
  36. PJ London says:
    @Rogue

    Thank you.
    I was planning on commenting on the BS “Massacre” but you did a much better job.
    Please also tell our friend that there were no black slaves and no blacks at all when the Dutch arrived.
    Which is why they had to import Malays as slaves to work on the Dutch East India farms.
    The nearest “Blacks” were 300 kms away on the Fish and Kei rivers.
    The few Hottentot and San people quickly left for greener hunting grounds when the Dutch wanted to create agricultural land.
    You may also mention that the 1976 deaths were as a result of mobs of “Scholars” ages up to 25 started by killing police and burning them in dustbins. The reservists were called out and with dozens of dead cops, the police were not too fussy about how the violence was resolved.
    Not one reference was made to the deaths of the police which started the violence and response.

    “What then is, generally speaking, the truth of history? A fable agreed upon.” –
    Napoleon Bonaparte

    • Agree: Rogue
  37. @obwandiyag

    “Equitable distribution of wealth” is not a panacea that can “fix” human nature, which seems to be innately inequitable. Call me naive, but “wealth” to me is owning my time in relatively comfortable living conditions.

    Who would decide upon what constitutes “equitable distribution” and how to implement it?

    • Replies: @Anon
  38. “Check your schadenfreude “.
    Wtf, get over it already Linh.

  39. @Rebel Roy

    Actually, the “Bushmen” (Khoisan people aka “Hottentots”) were in what is now South Africa before the Europeans. The late Laurens van der Post wrote quite a bit about them, but it appears that he granted himself quite a bit of “poetic license” in his work, so his work must be read with a seasoning of salt. Nevertheless, his first two “Bushman” books make for interesting reading.

    • Replies: @Pamela's Travels
  40. dimples says:

    This Coetzee writes truly dreadful crap, but at least he doesn’t seem to be a poofter.

  41. Rogue says:
    @Hapalong Cassidy

    Coetzee is quite a common Afrikaner name.

  42. Rogue says:
    @Rabbitnexus

    The book does sound like shit though.

    Yep, I concur.

  43. Adrian says:
    @Adrian

    Sorry – Wikipedia tells me that May did once get to America after all, for six weeks in 1908, not long before his death.

  44. Dumbo says:
    @Rogue

    As usual, Whites vs Whites.

    Or should I say, Anglos vs the rest?

    If Brits and Boer hadn’t fought so much, for gold and diamonds of course, perhaps South Africa could still be a first world country today?

    More often than not, Whites fight mostly among themselves and use other races as pawns.

    • Replies: @Rogue
  45. Anon[251] • Disclaimer says:
    @Magic Dirt

    Didn’t Linh Dinh quit writing for this site because of boors like me who use the dreaded n-word? Glad to see he manned up a bit and changed his mind. I find his stuff mildly interesting and I share his view that the US is finished.

    I thought Linh hated us all and wasn’t going to ever publish anything here again. What’s the story on that then?

    To: Ray Caruso and Magic Dirt

    The sulking 5 year old who takes his ball and slinks home soon that no one really cares he is not there. Hence he looks through his bedroom window and notices that everyone is having fun, he is forgotten and to boot, is all alone in his tantrum.

    After a few days he ventures back onto the field to the mockery and unconcealed contempt of the other players. He has been exposed as a bitch .He needs them while they neither need nor want him.

    This is the behaviour of the immature and thin skinned and it follows a lot of kids into manhood, writers especially !

  46. Anon[251] • Disclaimer says:
    @Montefrío

    You are so right.

    Where wealth distribution is concerned, if one took all the wealth in the world and divided it equally, in a short period of time those who were poor before would be poor again. The rich would be rich again and people who were ambivalent would strive for their old status.

    Call me naive, but “wealth” to me is owning my time in relatively comfortable living conditions.

    There is nothing naive about your statement. In fact it is extremely smart. The man who can pay his bills and do and say what he pleases, without having to bow to anyone, has power.

    Its a piquant paradox that the rich and famous must kiss other people’s asses in order to maintain the status that is so important to them. They must jump to the silly whims of others while the man who is content nonchalantly ignores them all.

    Yours is a superb observation. With a cheap cigar and novel, a cup of hot coffee, a \$6 canvas chair in the Park, I feel richer than Bezos in his \$100,000 leather chair and multi million dollar office digs.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
  47. Memejon says:
    @Dumbo

    The new normal Updike…

  48. Rogue says:
    @Dumbo

    Well, the gold was discovered in the Transvaal, which was owned by the Boers.

    Therefore, the Boers should not have had to fight – with anyone – over their own resources.

    The British created conditions for a new war with the Boers after gold had been discovered. The amount of gold was absolutely huge, it has to be said.

    The British government, and wealthy mine owners (all British, though most of them were naturalized German Jews), interfered in the Transvaal’s internal affairs – even though the treaty after the first Boer War specifically stated that the Boers would have complete sovereignty in these matters.

    However, it is certainly true that if no gold had been discovered, then there would most likely have been no second war either.

    • Replies: @Truth
  49. TKK says:
    @Rabbitnexus

    Yes, that is exactly what I meant.

    I am 50. What do I have? 25 years? To read fantasies?

    Perhaps I would not have listened, but I wish someone had taken me by the shoulders and screamed in my face when I was 18 years old how fast my time was going to slip through my hands.

  50. @SafeNow

    LD is an excellent poet and travel writer, he’s just not acquitting himself well recently and has become tiresome and needlessly (and uncreatively) insulting. Many intelligent people go through phases where they do and say things that later embarrass them.

  51. Anonymous[156] • Disclaimer says:
    @Arno

    Quite a few Afrikaners have British surnames, but yes, Coetzee’s Luries are English-speaking South Africans. So is Coetzee, though obviously he is half Afrikaner through his father.

    Haven’t read it, but I believe in the scene from Life and Times of Michael K , boer just means cop. The word is used in Cape Coloured slang to refer to all cops.

  52. Dumbo says:
    @TKK

    I think this is sort of natural. Fiction is more for the young, non-fiction more for the old. It’s sort of a normal change brought about by aging, although I don’t know why that happens exactly. But it’s common enough.

    However, while I read less fiction than in my young years, I still read fiction. But mostly older stuff.

  53. The Boers’ big mistake was not clearing the country of the native savages. They should have done it at the very beginning, but they could have done it as late as the 1980s. They had developed nuclear weapons, so the US and other “equality”-mongering cesspools would not have had the guts to try to stop them. Instead, they dismantled the nukes and jumped into the savages’ cauldron. They are utterly contemptible, although no more so than White Americans and Western Europeans.

  54. Anonymous[118] • Disclaimer says:

    For people saying the novel is absurd. Sure, if you take it literally. Being very familiar with South African society, I find it a very fitting metaphor for many white South Africans’ approach to post-apartheid nation building. Actually, not at all limited to South Africa, it’s quite a fitting metaphor for white people or the West or whatever in general. South Africa’s example just makes it very clear that there is no hardship, no danger and no indignity, no matter how great, that will ever be enough to make people snap out of it.

  55. Truth says:
    @Rogue

    Therefore, the Boers should not have had to fight – with anyone – over their own resources.

    LOL, their Own Resources were in Flanders, they should have dug for gold there.

    • Replies: @Rogue
  56. Treg says:

    “Death lies close by the gate of pleasure”…. It seems to me that all feral & wild animals know this, and all domestic animals do not. In various situations around both food and sex, many humans will go feral. Many will regularly go feral during certain times of the day or night, and even feral under certain social conditions. But wild humans? They went away with the discovery of fire and the domestication of the dog. There is progress.

  57. @Jim H

    When I first saw the character’s name I experienced the usual shiver induced by an encounter with kikedom. “Luria” is a definitely Jewish surname, and “Lurie” could be a variant, while “David” requires no explanation. Then there is the character’s Harvey Weinstein–like behavior and, of course, the fact he was a professor. I would say that at the very least Coetzee wished to be ambiguous about his character’s ethno-religious background.

    • Thanks: Jim H
  58. @Anon

    They weren’t actually “Blacks”. The Khoisan are lighter skinned and genetically different than “Blacks”. The Boers, on arrival, reached an agreement with the Khoisan on where they would farm. About the same time that the Boers were arriving on the Cape the “Blacks” – Bantus and Zulus – were invading from the North.

    • Replies: @Truth
  59. @Wild Bill

    I remember reading ‘Disgrace’ some 30 years ago. I just couldn’t reconcile the daughter’s reaction to the rape and found it contrived. Linh Dinh gives it a good spin.

  60. @Rogue

    Here is a different version of Sharpeville; https://www.radiofreesouthafrica.com/road-sharpeville-ancs-orwellian-memoryhole/
    I would also add that Mandela was jailed for sabotage something to which he admitted.

    • Replies: @Rogue
  61. Truth says:
    @Curmudgeon

    So, you’d react differently to a Khoisan, a Zulu or a Bantu porking your daughter?

    • Replies: @Curmudgeon
  62. @Rebel Roy

    I think Rebel Roy read James Michener’s ‘The Covenant’, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Covenant_(novel)

    • Replies: @Rebel Roy
  63. Rogue says:
    @Truth

    You know what? I was 90% sure you would make a comment about that.

    You are making the common mistake in looking through the prism of today, at events and reality in the past.

    The Transvaal (more accurately the ZAR), was a completely recognized country under international law and diplomacy at the time. And recognized as a Boer Republic specifically. Which is one of the reasons the Boers were hoping for foreign intervention so the war could be settled in their favour. But Britain was the big cheese of the day, so whilst most other European states liked the British getting a runaround from a bunch of semi-literate farmers, it never happened.

    As for the mineral wealth of South Africa back then (and basically still today), without White capital, engineering expertise and knowledge, the Black tribes could only have extracted a minuscule amount of this wealth as the vast majority of it is deep underground. South Africa’s gold mines are the deepest in the World.

    So it’s a bit like being a billionaire – but your bank account is on Mars. Of no use then.

    Apart from which, are you suggesting modern day Indians (feather) should be the sole beneficiaries of America’s gas and oil wealth, and other mineral deposits?

    • Replies: @Truth
    , @Derer
  64. Truth says:
    @Rogue

    The Transvaal (more accurately the ZAR), was a completely recognized country under international law and diplomacy at the time.

    LOL, who’s “International” Law and Diplomacy?

    Not the Zulu’s.

    The Boers took it from the blacks, the Angles took it from the Boers, the Khazars took it from the Angles, and the Blacks are taking it back from the Khazers.

    As for the mineral wealth of South Africa back then (and basically still today), without White capital, engineering expertise and knowledge, the Black tribes could only have extracted a minuscule amount of this wealth as the vast majority of it is deep underground. South Africa’s gold mines are the deepest in the World.

    So if someone looks at your piece of land, and decides that your puny house is not a good use of it, then shoots you and builds a Mansion on it, is he devoid of charges?

    Old Sport, the only think I ask on this site is consistency. Like above, a guy is going into the differences between the Khoisan and the blacks, if a Khoisan, a Zulu, a Somali, a Xhosha or whomever else commits a crime, is that, or is he another nigger commiting a crime.

    Your people left their ancestoral homeland and stole someone else’s hunting, farming and fishing property; period. That’s fine, now your other people are inviting the world into your ancestoral homelands to steal what they can. Same thing, right?

    • Replies: @Rogue
  65. @Anon

    Oh, you and your friend there are just fucking idiots.

    • Replies: @Rogue
  66. “Colored” does not mean black in South Africa.

  67. Rogue says:
    @Truth

    LOL, who’s “International” Law and Diplomacy?

    Quite obviously the developed nations of the World at that time – so mostly Western nations, but not exclusively them. Southern African Black tribes were illiterate and innumerate at the time, and could hardly be called developed or civilized.

    As for the mineral wealth of South Africa back then (and basically still today), without White capital, engineering expertise and knowledge, the Black tribes could only have extracted a minuscule amount of this wealth as the vast majority of it is deep underground. South Africa’s gold mines are the deepest in the World.

    So if someone looks at your piece of land, and decides that your puny house is not a good use of it, then shoots you and builds a Mansion on it, is he devoid of charges?

    Ridiculous comparison. Besides of which, what gives the Zulus and other Black tribes the right to have stolen the land originally from the Khoisan? They did so because they could. As the Whites in turn did to them. First the Khoisan then the Blacks themselves.

    Have you kinda not figured out how this all works? And throughout history? North Africa is Arabic and has been for over a 1000 years. They’re not there because they were invited. So maybe you should lecture them to push off. I’m sure they’ll be sympathetic.

    Your people left their ancestoral homeland and stole someone else’s hunting, farming and fishing property

    If you want to look at it that way. So did Europeans do the same thing to the Americas and Australasia. Are you suggesting they all leave and head back to Europe?

    now your other people are inviting the world into your ancestoral homelands to steal what they can. Same thing, right?

    Obviously not the same thing. Treasonous elites are allowing non-Whites and peoples of whatever religion to settle in Europe and other White countries. If the door was shut on these immigrants and “refugees”, they would have no power at all to force their way in militarily. Arab countries and Israel won’t put up with this – and I agree with them. Though certainly Arab states should take in Arab refugees.

    When Apartheid and White minority rule in South Africa ended, the only country on the African continent that could be described as First World, was South Africa. Sure, the Whites ruled the place for their own benefit – but an increasingly greater amount of the White taxpayers money was spent on improving education, healthcare and living standards for Blacks – from the early 60’s to the end of White rule in the mid 90’s.

    South Africa today is misgoverned. At national level, at provincial level and at local level (other than where the official, mostly White, opposition party rules) the country is heading for disaster. This is not me having a grouch over Black rule (neighboring Botswana is a Black run country and a rare success story in many ways), but merely pointing out what is known both internationally and nationally.

    • Replies: @Truth
  68. anonymous[168] • Disclaimer says:
    @RadicalCenter

    OUR fate has been sealed The USA Congress under pressure/orders from JPMorgan, Chase, FED etc. the Debt ceiling will be raised to add another \$5trillions to the National Debt that means the Talmud was right all American goyim have just become the new SLAVES for the next 300yrs+ just to pay accrued%%…a whole populations laboring and paying taxes under the ziojewishbankers overlords…SLAVERY is back…GOP/MAGA/TRUMP are useless irrelevant…American deplorabale goyim WE are being played big time…no oppsosition the AG/DOJ Garland new anti/white/goyim Kommissar..

    • Replies: @restless94110
  69. It’s all coming back to haunt the creators of the apartheid and it won’t end well for all involved.

  70. Truth says:
    @Rogue

    Quite obviously the developed nations of the World at that time – so mostly Western nations, but not exclusively them. Southern African Black tribes were illiterate and innumerate at the time, and could hardly be called developed or civilized.

    And what in the hell does some London fag with a powdered wig on have to do with property rights in Africa?

    Ridiculous comparison. Besides of which, what gives the Zulus and other Black tribes the right to have stolen the land originally from the Khoisan? They did so because they could. As the Whites in turn did to them. First the Khoisan then the Blacks themselves.

    Right, and the blacks and other “Aboriginals” are taking Europe, the U.S and S.A now. That’s life, right?

    If you want to look at it that way. So did Europeans do the same thing to the Americas and Australasia. Are you suggesting they all leave and head back to Europe?

    What I am suggesting, ain’t got nothin’ to do with nothin’. The point is that if Europeans had stayed in their ancerstral homelands, we would all be living our lives now, right?

    Obviously not the same thing. Treasonous elites are allowing non-Whites and peoples of whatever religion to settle in Europe and other White countries.

    Yes, and the Boers and Angles made friends of certian Africans groups and turned them against other groups. That’s Global Politics, right? As did the Belgians, right? The Hutu-Tutsi war was about that right?

    As a wise man said back in the 60’s “the chickens are coming…”

    If the door was shut on these immigrants and “refugees”, they would have no power at all to force their way in militarily.

    China has done nothing militarilly, they are still taking over the world, Right?

    • Replies: @Rogue
    , @bomag
  71. Rogue says:
    @obwandiyag

    Only if you look at everything through a completely materialistic lens.

  72. ricpic says:

    So blacks burnt the white man and raped the white woman and laughed on the way out. Which they do everywhere. All the time. This is why I am terrified of blacks and by blacks. As is everyone not conned by The Narrative.

    Perhaps Linh is more sophisticated than me. In fact he is more sophisticated than me. He sees The Big Picture. And so can “understand” horrific black violence.

    I just see The Real Picture. And can’t rationalize it. None of it.

  73. Corrupt says:

    Is it true that you’re so fragile you’ve asked Unz to moderate comments you don’t like?

  74. unwoke says:

    “Savagery is a passion.”

    So is food. But an entire column (& a very long one at that) without once mentioning eating. Amazing. Maybe because the subject matter is so gross, it takes your appetite away. Anyway, happy Columbus Day (that old white pussy!)

  75. @obwandiyag

    Fully agree.

    Let me opinionize neutral:

    “It only matters that if you are not white, and that the perpetual disparagement and diminishment of those NOT white is justified because the whites are tragically narcissistic about their present material condition, and , like the Jews that have manipulated any society they are in, have become tragically unable of self-reflection.”

    Based on what often posted here with respect to sentiments towards to those of colour, it could read like this:

    “Ya know, we told them we would nuke them, but did they try to find cover? Such low IQ idiots.”

  76. Rogue says:
    @Curmudgeon

    Cheers. I read the article you linked to. Thanks for the info.

    For even further context for the Sharpeville massacre, one needs to examine the events of Marikana in 2012. There is a clear parallel between Cato Manor and Sharpeville, and what took place at the Marikana mine in South Africa.

    Under a Black South African government, with a police force mostly Black and with the senior commanders of that police force overwhelmingly Black, 34 mine workers were shot to death in a sudden hail of bullets by the cops.

    The previous week these same “peaceful” strikers had killed a couple of cops and also a couple of security guards. And the bodies of these 4 unfortunate men had been completely mutilated.

    On the day of the mass shooting, the miners were assembled in large numbers, sporting loads of weapons, and many of them had taken muti (supposed magical potion) to render them impervious to police bullets.

    When they advanced threateningly towards the police, these cops let rip and blasted away. Does anyone think that the events of the previous week might not have concentrated their minds somewhat as to what their fate would be if attacked and captured by these miners?

    BTW, the dude who used to be a union boss but was at the time of these shootings a member of the board of directors that owned the mine, and who considered the strikers a bunch of criminals, is now the President of South Africa!

    • Thanks: Curmudgeon
  77. Rogue says:
    @Truth

    And what in the hell does some London fag with a powdered wig on have to do with property rights in Africa?

    The same as an ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Arab, Mongolian under Ghengis or French under Napolean. If you’re the big cheese, you get to call the shots wherever your influence extends to. In a local context, the Zulus under King Shaka both absorbed and kicked the shit out of other Black tribes.

    China has done nothing militarilly, they are still taking over the world, Right?

    Come off it man. China is a highly developed country. Chinese people are not seeking asylum all over the (White World). Their “taking over the world” is a purely economic endeavor. The people seeking to enter White countries are overwhelmingly from Third World dysfunctional countries. They are a burden overall (not in every instance, but generally), and in my opinion will continue to be.

    When I lived in the UK (was there for many years) I had a couple of genuine Black friends from different parts of Africa, and many friendly acquaintances from different races, religions and cultures. However, I’ve never thought differently about the folly of mass immigration of the 3rd World to the 1st World.

  78. The book that Linh reviews was actually made into a movie starring John Malkovich as the professor. I do remember the name of the movie, saw it years ago.

    • Replies: @Sam Hildebrand
  79. @Sam Hildebrand

    Should read “I do not remember the name of the movie”

  80. @Magic Dirt

    Hadn’t seen that as I only read his stuff infrequently. When/how did he announce this?

  81. @obwandiyag

    Just make billionaires give other people money bro, that’ll fix everything. And if you don’t like, agree, then you obviously love billionaires and hate poor people.

  82. Rebel Roy says:
    @Rev. Spooner

    Well Spoon I read the blurb.Not sure why you responded to me without directly addressing me(strange).Anyway I don’t read novels I traffic in truth only.Apparently you were trying to make some cut at me by saying I didn’t know what book I was speaking of.You are an anti-White piece of feces.God bless the true White South Africans and damn the Jews and their puppet English helpers.Things will once more be made right on this Earth by the Lord and I suppose that means you’ll be in Hell Spoon.But hey you’ve earned it.We can chalk all the evils up to the Jew and all those eager to lap up his lies.Keep defending them Spoon,keep loving them.

  83. Linh,

    Did you know the anti-apartheid Blacks who prevailed in South Africa unanimously agreed (after visiting Israel/Palestine) that apartheid there is “WORSE THAN the WORST” apartheid they experienced?

    “Zionism is apartheid, and worse”:
    — (https://mondoweiss.net/2017/08/zionism-apartheid-worse/)

    Here’s a suggestion for you, when bashing Evil Whitey in post-apartheid South Africa gets boring (given that the Blacks are physically bashing the Whites to death without your help):

    Mosey up to Palestine & tell us about some seriously nasty apartheid happening right now.

  84. Curle says:
    @RadicalCenter

    A lot of bitchy behavior going on here, where are we, a sorority?

    • Replies: @restless94110
  85. bomag says:
    @Truth

    Right, and the blacks and other “Aboriginals” are taking Europe, the U.S and S.A now.

    So we can at least quit calling them “immigrants” and call them “invaders.”

    • Replies: @Truth
  86. PolarBear says:

    The Dobermanns knew better…

  87. @Wild Bill

    So you are saying that Linh has wonderfully departed from coherence and also that that we, the peons who can’t live without his Holy Instruction, must read and absorb Linh’s Wisdom? I couldn’t understand a word he wrote. I guess that makes me one of the Lowly Ones (i.e., a Deplorable) Did you used to write for the Hillary Clinton campaign?

    What a perfect moment for The Emperor has no clothes.

    • Agree: Emslander
    • Replies: @Wild Bill
  88. @anonymous

    Hey RC,
    There is something called OT. Use it?

    By the way, if you think anybody is going to spend the next 300 years paying off a debt from the 21st century, you need to lay off the horse tranquilizer. Maybe the pig tranquilizer as well.

  89. Truth says:
    @bomag

    No, Old Sport; they’re “settlers” just like the 19th century Boers!

    • Replies: @bomag
  90. @Rabbitnexus

    Bought Dinh’s Postcards book, enjoyed it, and bought another as a gift. I continue to remark on his writing talents. Yet I was the first commenter this time.

    I’ve been an LD fan. I’m just getting tired of his recent schtick and attitude. Fuck ‘im. Not inclined to buy his future books. I’m sure he’ll survive.

    • Thanks: Emslander
  91. Derer says:
    @Rogue

    Africa for blacks and Europe for everybody hungry, illiterate and violent from Africa.

    • Replies: @Emslander
  92. bomag says:
    @Truth

    Settling implies taking something wild and domesticating.

    Things are going the other way, so you need a different term.

  93. @Curle

    Why sister? Do you want to pledge?

  94. gT says:
    @Anon

    The Khoi were the ones who moved around with their Afrikaner cattle. The Bantu’s all build settlements, even of mud and stone, because they were into agriculture as well as herding cattle. On the coast, the Nguni Bantus, like the Zulu and Xhosa, had Nguni cattle. What cattle the Bantu in the interior had I don’t know, the Venda only entered South Africa in the late 19’th century. The Zulus do not consider many tribes in the interior, like the Venda, to be South African. Maize, from America, was cultivated in South Africa long before the Europeans reached America.

  95. Adrian says:

    It was in the third class of my high school in Holland that our English teacher (that is our Dutch English master) asked us what the English were particularly good at. I put up my hand and said: colonization. Oh no he said dismissively, we are much better at that (mind you this is exactly seventy years ago when one still could be proud of such things). The “right” answer turned out to be: holding on to their language.

    Well the evidence that English speakers were good at that is everywhere around us. It is equally clear that the Dutch were pretty hopeless at it. Not good at holding on to their language, not good at spreading it.

    Consider this: Japan was for two centuries, from 1650 to about 1850, totally dependent on Dutch as their only channel of communication with the outside world. They were the only permitted foreign traders there then (after the Portuguese had been thrown out) but were confined to an artificial island, Deshima, which had a surface of about 15,000 square meters.

    Books in the Dutch language and Dutch scholars brought the western world’s knowledge to these forbidden islands. The Japanese being Japanese had thoroughly organised it all: a group of about 150 Japanese interpreters, divided into various ranks and with hereditary offices, had to learn this probably thoroughly uncongenial language to keep Japan more or less up to date. An English author, David Mitchell, has written a splendid novel about it (The thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet).

    But around 1850 the monopoly of Dutch disappeared. The first contact with the Americans still had to take place in Dutch. But after that English quickly took over and now the knowledge of Dutch has virtually disappeared over there.

    Indonesia, the former Netherlands East Indies, provides an even more flagrant case. The Dutch were there longer than the British were in India and yet the knowledge of Dutch seems to be confined there now to some bits relevant to historians and jurists. For the rest nothing. The consolation, if it is one, is that linguists have determined that official Indonesian has about 5,000 Dutch loanwords. Happily they are hardly recognizable as such, to Indonesians that is, otherwise the nationalists would have attempted to weed them out.

    The Dutch once colonised Sri Lanka, before the British and equally long, but as everyone knows English is now the second language there. As far as I know there is no trace of Dutch left.

    So today the knowledge of Dutch is, outside Holland and Belgium, is limited to Suriname and some Caribbean islands where it is the official language. Altogether some 700,000 people I guess.

    And what about South Africa? In the peace accord that made an end to the Second Boer War, de Vrede van Vereeniging, Dutch was recognised as a national language beside English. But no the Afrikaners didn’t hold on to it. After 1925 it was increasingly replaced by Afrikaans.

    Now look at English. American and British speakers of English have been separated equally long as Afrikaners and Dutch but today Afrikaans is a separate language and American English is not.

    There is great mutual intelligibility between Afrikaans and Dutch as about 95% of its vocabulary is derived from Dutch – but that mutual intelligibility is largely confined to its written form I am afraid. I have never been to South Africa but I remember a lecture by an Afrikaans professor at the University of Amsterdam which he just as well could have delivered in Swahili as far as I was concerned.

    Was it wise for Afrikaners to drop Dutch as their written language? I remember an essay by an Afrikaans liguist working in Belgium who believed it wasn’t. Many Flemish dialects, he said, are more distant from official Dutch than Afrikaans is and yet the Flemish have retained Dutch as their written language. He argued that the position of Afrikaans would be stronger today if it had also retained this link.

    In Holland Afrikaans is a bit of a “boutique” language. This is partly due to the popularity of the poet Elisabeth Eybers who has spent almost half a century of her long life in Holland but kept writing in Afrikaans. She won, among other things, Holland’s most prestigious literary award, the P.C.Hooft Prize.

    The Dutch author Adriaan van Dis wondered when he got to know her work whether the language was so beautiful or the poet was so good. To find out he studied for a few years at the Afrikaans language (then ) University of Stellenbosch and ultimately did his Ph.D. in Holland on the Afrikaans author Breyte Breytenbach.

    I count myself among Eybers’ admirers as well. To write poetry is to extract and concentrate. Afrikaans lends itself to that more so than Dutch.

    • Replies: @Rogue
    , @Jim H
  96. Emslander says:
    @Derer

    The idea that racialism is the same in South Africa as it is in the USA or in Europe is entirely incorrect. The only thing that is the same is that blacks have prospered in every situation where they can blame their daily crosses on white people. In black countries they aren’t as successful.

  97. Profound apologies Linh, but this has been a tedious, messy read.

    • Agree: Rogue
  98. Anonymous[140] • Disclaimer says:
    @Cowboy

    Thanks for the passage from Pilgrims Progress. If I’m not mistaken I believe the first edition was written in Dutch. I don’t think its too much of a stretch in comparing the Pilgrims of America to the Transvaal people as regards their mutual desires for separation and common theological beliefs. This intense desire to live free from the hegemony of cultural/theocratic strictures seemed to have permeated both people’s . Unfortunately for both people’s, theocratic Puritans overwhelmed what was for awhile a good thing.

  99. Wild Bill says:
    @restless94110

    Now, that is an interesting interpretation of what I wrote. Just goes to show we don’t all speak the same language even though we call it English.

    • Replies: @Truth
    , @restless94110
  100. anon[388] • Disclaimer says:
    @Montefrío

    “without “horrific suffering and loss” I suppose I’ve missed out on “vastly deeper and richer perception”

    i have not missed out on such loss and suffering but I cant recommend it as basic experience to promote deeper richer meaning. that is simply Barrett’s opinion. such suffering can blunt the soul and prevent personal, individual development, far less than anything ‘deeper and richer’

    deeper and richer hell perhaps?

    by Barrett’s-Africa/Africans should be the richest people in the world, followed by native peoples everywhere… who have supped full of such richer life promoting experience at the hands of white people for half a millennia now

  101. @Wild Bill

    Well there is a form of English that is coherent. And then the other form where the majestic Hall of the Gods rule and the exalted meanderings of the confused and addled rule. There is a certain type of English speaker that is positively hypnotized by this type of English.

    Some call him a fop, some call him to clear the table after desert is served, some call him easily impressed.

    Yes, well, it just goes to show that there are so many different Englishes in the world. I chose the coherent one long ago. I found the pious unctuous ass-kissing one was not the type of English I could speak. Good luck though.

  102. willem1 says:
    @TKK

    I also find myself “soaking” in too much non-fiction, probably for the (‘soul sickened’) reason you mention. But not because I don’t want to read fiction–I still like it, just somehow don’t seem to get around to it.

    Perhaps on the higher end of the age scale, people tend to read less fiction because they don’t dream as much. Many times, reading good fiction requires some kind of identification with the story, and many older people may be too far past that, knowing what the shape of their remaining life is going to be.

    I liked this writeup by Linh. I have read three Coetzee novels–the three mentioned. (“The Life and Times of Michael K”, “Waiting for the Barbarians”, and “Disgrace”). I think I actually liked “Michael K” best.

  103. Adrian says:

    I said in a previous post that the Dutch author Adriaaan van Dis’s interest in Afrikaans (he ended up studying it in Stellenbosch) was evoked by a poem of Elisabeth Eybers. That was wrong. It happened in the early sixties when Eybers’ career in Dutch letters was in its first beginning. It was in fact a poem by Breyte Breytenbach, the poet Van Dis ultimately wrote his Ph.D. thesis on (for a Dutch university). What follows is a translated fragment from a Dutch blog:

    It was the 1960s. Adriaan van Dis was sitting on the john reading a poem that would change his life. It was called My vrou se naam is Yolande, by the South African Breyten Breytenbach, who in it sang of his love for his wife. ‘Haar hare is swart/ haar oë mispelbruin/ haar neusie is plat/ en haar mond ’n rooiborsie/ gestol in die vlug.’ (Her hair is black/ Her eyes are brown/ Her nose is flat/ And her mouth is a rooiborsie/ Stuck in the quick.) What a language, thought the Dutch student delightedly. Van Dis describes the moment … in his essay The Poisoned Prince, first published in the recently published collection The South Africa Books. ‘This was an adulterous Dutch, lithe and powerful, a language of color beyond Calvin and clay.’

    Over the phone, Van Dis explains why Breytenbach’s sentences touched him personally. ‘I had to think of my own background. My mother, as a peasant girl, had married a very dark man, with Moluccan roots. Breytenbach, too, had married a Vietnamese woman ‘across the color line’ as a white man. That’s why he lived in Paris, because with her he was not allowed to enter South Africa: mixed relationships were forbidden by law. He had stepped out of the bubble, as it is called these days, just like my mother. Through Afrikaans I became aware of my own background.’

    So an adulterous Dutch. Now the early Afrikaans language historians didn’t deny the adultery but they gave the language more socially respectable partners, willfully blind to the rogues she had really been between the sheets with. I will quote Van Dis on that in another post.

    • LOL: gT
    • Replies: @Rogue
  104. Rogue says:
    @Adrian

    Strictly speaking, I think it would have been better for Dutch to have remained for Afrikaners as the spoken language.

    I believe that Dutch was essentially the official language right into the early 20th century, but then became subordinated to Afrikaans due to a rise in Afrikaner Nationalism and identity.

    Afrikaans is closer to Flemish than Dutch.

    My father was English (from England – not just an English colonial) and my mother was an Afrikaner (van der Merwe). I was brought up as English South African due to my father and also because of the area where I lived, which was overwhelmingly English speaking.

    Do you ever encounter the name van der Merwe in Holland?

    • Replies: @Adrian
  105. Rogue says:
    @Adrian

    Something you might find interesting.

    Breyten Breytenbach was a liberal Afrikaner.

    His brother Jan was instrumental in establishing Apartheid South Africa’s special forces.

    The two were, I believe, close as normal brothers but fundamentally opposed to each other on political and (presumably) social issues.

  106. Emslander says:

    I think LD ought to reconsider his decision to write reviews of books like this trash and go back to what he always did best. Maybe the entirely artificial nature of South Africa is what is short-circuiting his crap detector.

    • Replies: @Adrian
  107. Adrian says:
    @Rogue

    The only letters in standard Dutch written by an Afrikaner I ever saw were in fact early official letters by Jan Smuts. They were correct but of an uncommon stiffness – not just the ordinary stiffness of an official letter. I wondered then whether standard Dutch had become too much of a straitjacket for Afrikaners.

    Dutch people often find Afrikaans charming – something that is familiar yet strange enough to get your interest. I am talking about written Afrikaans of course. Apart from the fact that very few Dutch people will meet Afrikaners in the flesh (unless they visit the country) the spoken form is not all that accessible.

    I would associate the name Van der Merwe immediately with South Africa even though it sounds Dutch.

    So there was a political split in the family Breytenbach. T he brother set up SA’s special forces huh. Coming to think of it did Breyten serve in Vietnam? Is that where he met his wife (and became a liberal)?

    • Replies: @Adrian
  108. Adrian says:
    @Adrian

    Adriaan van Dis lived during his youth among people repatriated from the Netherlands Indies, including his parents. Most of them were of mixed blood though of full Dutch nationality. Van Dis himself was through a Mendelian quirk whiter than white “the pink piglet among the coloured” . Those people spoke a creole which has now largely disappeared I think. If anyone is interested he can find a perfect rendering of it in fairytales told by the Dutch author Johan Fabricius (Youtube). This is what Van Dis says himself about the language that fascinated him viz.Afrikaans:

    The joke language of home was a bit like the Afrikaans in books. The first published texts in Afrikaans, from the middle of the nineteenth century, were written primarily for comic effect, to characterise the gullible cooured and to mock their language exploits. A stiff Dutch language was put in De Boer’s mouth. The first Bible story about the life of Joseph, translated into Afrikaans, was intended to edify the coloured man. The white man had hisStatenbijbel, whether he understood it or not.

    Strangely enough, colour played no role whatsoever in the origins of Afrikaans propagated under Apartheid. In the middle of the last century, Afrikaans was mainly celebrated as the youngest prince of the Germanic language family. Yes, baie came from Malay: banyak. Portuguese had also left its mark (the genitive-s is said to come from there: ‘hom se boek’), but Afrikaans was also full of old Dutch words such as krans for steep rock, astrant for stubborn. Sometimes a word could be traced back to Zeelandic, Frisian or Saxon.

    And what about the word repetition? Ek het dit nou doe. I knew that from Petjoh: plan plan, orang orang. Reduplication is what it is called, to indicate plural or intensity; it occurs in more languages with a brown edge, Pidgin-English is full of it.

    This phenomenon is called creolisation. But in the South African publications of the time, the language was kept as white as possible. Reduplication would also occur in some dialects, elsewhere in Europe; even Czech was mentioned. And the double negation? Wasn’t it also present in Negro Dutch on the Danish Antilles? No, it came from Flanders. There were two brothers from Aarschot on the VOC ship’s list. To this day they stick a second ‘not’ in a negative sentence.

    Research into the linguistic influence of the Khoikhoi and San was in its infancy. In those days we still spoke of Bushmen and Hottentots. Van Riebeeck used the latter word in a letter to the Lords of the Seventeen because he thought the people he encountered at the Cape were just a bunch of stutterers; hottentot is an old Dutch word for stutterer, and besides, those Hottentots were not suitable for any work, they were stuck somewhere between ape and man. It was therefore officially forbidden to use them as slaves. That is why slaves were imported from West Africa, Madagascar or the Dutch East Indies.

    Now we know that these people did play a role in the development of Afrikaans: Boss simplifies his language for slave. Slave passes on simplified language to child of boss. And that is how Afrikaans came into being, in a relatively short time. But the apartheid-era researchers preferred to call it a “Dietse” language clash. Damn, I thought: Italian blood in South Africa too. I decided to study Afrikaans.

  109. Adrian says:
    @Emslander

    ”This trash”? No. I am interested in South Africa but never having been there I have no South African sensitivities. Do you?

    • Replies: @Anon
  110. Jim H says:
    @Adrian

    ‘Many Flemish dialects, he said, are more distant from official Dutch than Afrikaans is and yet the Flemish have retained Dutch as their written language.’ — Adrian

    One can easily understand why pictographic languages such as Chinese can have wholly divergent, mutually incomprehensible regional dialects. But for English speakers, at least, it’s difficult to conceive how a spoken language such as Flemish can deviate so much from the written Dutch language, when constrained by the phonetic Roman alphabet.

    Is it the pronunciation, the vocabulary, the idioms, or all of these?

    Gone With the Wind, for instance, features dialogue of black characters rendered phonetically with non-standard spelling. But as soon as one masters the systematic deformations of their speech (e.g., ‘gempmums’ for ‘gentlemen’), the meaning is fully accessible.

    Once I had the absurd experience of getting a young man’s Cockney speech (of which I could understand less than half) simultaneously translated into standard English by his companion. But I suppose that if the impenetrable (to me) Cockney accent had been rendered in movie subtitles, nearly all of the words would have been familiar, even if some of their idiomatic meanings (such as ‘porkies’ for lies) remained obscure.

    Plenty of Dutch geographic names remain in New York and northern New Jersey, where a South African visitor gasped in surprise as we passed a road sign for De Boer Drive. But as you noted, the Dutch language has not survived at all in daily usage. Strange!

    • Replies: @Adrian
    , @RadicalCenter
  111. @Truth

    The point, in context, was that “Blacks” are not native to South Africa, and that the entire narrative of “stolen land” from Blacks, is bullshit. My daughter will engage in sexual relations with whom she chooses, whether I like it or not.

  112. Anonymous[243] • Disclaimer says:

    Sorry I must have missed this but what Boer has set Linh off? Or his ire focused upon the Boers for casting him in with the coloreds and sadly thrown his lot in with the brits?

  113. Adrian says:
    @Jim H

    One can easily understand why pictographic languages such as Chinese can have wholly divergent, mutually incomprehensible regional dialects. But for English speakers, at least, it’s difficult to conceive how a spoken language such as Flemish can deviate so much from the written Dutch language, when constrained by the phonetic Roman alphabet.
    Is it the pronunciation, the vocabulary, the idioms, or all of these?

    All of these – but the underlying structure is largely the same.

    I found on the internet a letter by a Belgian who moved to South Africa in his forties, he said, and had lived there for about twenty years when he wrote it. It answers part of your questions:

    The language we were taught in school in Belgium was the subject: “Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands”, (ABN) which freely translates to “General Civilised Dutch”. So, Flemish-speaking people understand, and most of them can speak and write proper Dutch. However, if we speak pure Flemish (not the ABN!) to “een Hollander” (The Flemish name for a person living in Holland (The Netherlands), they would understand about a quarter of whatever it is we are talking about. With regard to Afrikaans, this leans closer to Dutch than to Flemish, for the simple reason that Flemish is deeply influenced by French. …

    French was an obligatory subject from about the 3rd grade of primary school. I speak, read and write Dutch semi-natively, and I can read and understand most of Afrikaans. But it is very difficult for me to have even a basic conversation in Afrikaans. However, and in all honesty, Afrikaans is such a colorful descriptive language, that, to me, it sounds MUCH more amiable than Dutch, which most Belgians find rather cold and, may I say, a bit arrogant.
    This being said, it seems to be easier for an Afrikaans speaker to understand Flemish or Dutch, than it is the other way around. I believe this is because of the many uniquely Afrikaans words.

    Let me add that the Flemish were, within their own country at least, fanatical in holding on to Dutch as the language struggle coincided with a class struggle. The well to do bourgeoisie spoke French. But nowadays Flanders seems to be more prosperous than the Walloon part of the country.

    Plenty of Dutch geographic names remain in New York and northern New Jersey, where a South African visitor gasped in surprise as we passed a road sign for De Boer Drive. But as you noted, the Dutch language has not survived at all in daily usage. Strange!

    As to Dutch in New York (New Amsterdam): according to Wikipedia it was fairly widely spoken there until the middle or the end of the 18th Century.

    Wikipedia’s biography of Washington Irving (who was born in 1783) does not say anything about his knowledge of Dutch but I found that a certain Elisabeth Funk devoted a study to that and established thatf it was more extensive than he has been generally credited with.

    Perhaps the language lingered on longest among the “lowly born”. I read to my surprise that the well known freed female slave and abolitionist who called herself Sojourner Truth, who was born at the very end of the eighteenth century, in 1797, had Dutch as her native language. Her Dutch would have been rich pickings for a linguist but people didn’t bother about such things then.

  114. Adrian says:

    No – as far as I could find out Breytenbach never was in Vietnam otherwise than, perhaps, as a tourist. He met his Vietnamese wife in London. She had come to France, where her father was the Vietnamese representative at UNESCO, when she was four years old.

    In the seventies Breytenbach tried to return to South Africa on a false passport to take up contact with a Marxist resistance organisation whose original manifesto he had written. He was arrested immediately after his arrival at the airport of Johannesburg. His place in prison had already been reserved and he landed there, for a period of nine years (which was later shortened to seven) after what was called a “show process”. His wife, the Yolande of the poems, was allowed to visit him twice a year there.

    I knew his name but not more than that and was surprised to find a great deal of his work listed in the digital library of Dutch literature. Like Eybers he was awarded an important Dutch literary prize.

    Years before he landed in the “tronk” (archaic Dutch word for prison preserved in Afrikaans) he and his wife had been allowed to make a three months journey through South Africa after which he wrote a book: Een seizoen in het Paradijs (A season in Paradise, a deliberate counterpart to the poem in prose of his nineteenth century predecessor Arthur Rimbaud : “Une saison en enfer”).

    I would like to quote here from a Dutch article about him by a certain Cyrille Offermans.:

    This violent country is still more than hell for the Parisian exile; he is absorbed in just seeing things and delights in the most magnificent descriptions of nature. In its cleaned form, cleaned of white supremacy, Africa serves as a counterpoint to Europe, that is, to a civilisation based on the subjugation of people and the exploitation of nature. Africa does not bother with man ‘and his little futilities’, it has something untouchable. Europe is a tamed, almost feeble beast, like a cow with pimples or a cat with rotten teeth. Africa is eternal. In Africa, man is a wanderer, a transient phenomenon. The European has polluted his soil according to his needs; the African has had to adapt himself to Africa. Not to take possession, but to be tolerated – to be part of it.

    But the African in this physical landscape is quite a different creature from the one in his social-political one.

    Yet there is no question of idealising Africa. Africa is part of the world – as a subject, not as an agent. Africa is defined by its weaknesses. Public life in Africa is burdened by a pathological interaction between power and outward appearance. The less real power we have, the more
    the more importance we attach to the outward accessories of privilege in the form of posing and ceremonial. The need for pageantry (actually a camouflaged expression of powerlessness) is accompanied by exaggeration, demagogy, manipulated myths and prejudices, bribery, corruption and nepotism. Our presidents are trying to wash the blood from their tunic and turn themselves from warlords into living idols, like masks embodying ancestors. And in doing so they appeal to cultural individuality.

    This being so why is he surprised about developments post apartheid? These were completely predictable. The Dutch liberals who thought that independent Indonesia would be governed by the nice Indonesian leftist individuals who they knew from before the war, and instead got the wastrel president Sukarno at the end of whose reign one of the greatest post war massacres took place – yes those liberals could be excused because we are speaking here of the end of the forties. But at he end of the eighties still having illusions about these things?

    Offermans again:

    Naturally, he is disappointed with the political and social developments in post-dictatorial South Africa. He is highly critical of the ANC. Nothing has really changed, according to him; the white minority in South Africa has simply been replaced by a black majority. He sees the way in which ‘the ANC canons’, headed by the populist Zuma, now wield power as a betrayal of the revolution.

    Of course Breytenbach has an enormous admiration for Nelson Mandela, but Berichten uit de Middenwereld also contains a text, ‘Mandela’s smile’, in which, on the occasion of the ninetieth birthday of ‘dear Mandiba’, he unashamedly and clearly expresses his disappointment with his regime. It is true that Breytenbach believes Mandela’s self-reflective humility to be genuine, but he immediately adds this question: ‘Why then do you tolerate the parasites, the charlatans and the opportunists who fatten themselves in your wake? About the ANC, once strongly supported by the poet, he now asks only hard questions. Are you prepared to consider that your organisation may have lost its way? Or have we closed our eyes to its intrinsic Stalinism and greed in the intoxication of the liberation struggle?

    Once again: wasn’t this all predictable?

  115. Anon[178] • Disclaimer says:
    @Adrian

    I don’t believe ((Emslander)) has South African sensitivities. No, it must be some other issue ((he’s)) sensitive about. Just like a few other of Linh’s deranged critics, like ‘Scheutze’.

    Unfortunately, brave anti-zionists like Linh are often subjected to personal attacks by swarms of these berserkers.

  116. anonymous[251] • Disclaimer says:

    I made my first trip to South Africa and any place in Africa in 2020 – I just had to get away from the never ending USA Presidential campaign.

    THESE NEVER END.

    I got stranded for 5 months in Cape Town, mostly in the White Northern Suburbs. I had a great time and really, really liked the South African people including most all the Dutch Afrikanners. I didn’t meat any of these tough, civilization adverse Boer farmers. Instead, I met nice, not very rich Dutch Afrikaaners that looked as good as Nordic Swedes but were nice.

    There was/is very high quality, safe, moderately priced (White) “escorts” – an American guy can get great bang for the \$ buck.

    I found pretty much all White South Africans in the Western Cape be realistic about racial, crime, African realities – hey they live in Africa.

    I also was surprised to meet so many, honest, hard working, great English Black Uber and Lyft drivers from other Black African countries (especially Zimbabwe). They didn’t seem to have a chip on their shoulder and most were honest about the F#*\$&# Black Government of Zimbabwe that destroyed their country.

    I as kind of surprised that the worst drug addict street people in Cape Town were more “Colored” than Black (Xosas are the local Black tribe).

    I was aware of this dreadful Coetzee post Apartheid “lesbian daughters accepts Black rapists” novel. I sort of put it down to:

    This guy still wants to get published.

    He did move to Australia.

    Jack Ryan
    The Political Cesspool Radio show hosted by James Edwards

  117. Rogue says:

    Yes, you speak accurately enough.

    Excepting the “escorts” stuff. That I would have no knowledge of at all.

    The people most ripped off by Apartheid were the Coloureds, not the Blacks. So ironic that the Coloureds are the only reason that the Blacks don’t govern Cape Town and the province that it’s in.

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