Adonis Diaries

“The summer of a life” by J.M. Coetzee

Posted on: November 18, 2011

“The summer of a life” by J.M. Coetzee

This book is another autobiographical attempt by J.M. Coetzee of how was life and his life between 1972 to 1975 in apartheid South Africa of the Afrikaners. Actually, it is how his girlfriends perceived him, through a third-party interviewing his girlfriends after his death.

Consequently, the exciting main characters are the women in the life of the author, and when women talk frankly about their relationship you should expect excitement and hilarious different perspectives on the nature of falling in love and sexual intercourse…

I am translating from the French version a few paragraphs and sections to set the tone.

Julia says: “I had dropped two rolls of Christmas wrappings in the supermarket.  This utterly non-handsome guy, skinny, and inelegant picked up the one-meter large rolls. It was obviously an accident, but one of the rolls stabbed one of my breasts. As I arrived home, I removed my bra and looked at my breasts.  I could feel the touch on my nipple for a week…

I invited John for a light dinner a few weeks later. I made it a principle to look the same as during the supermarket incident and refused to beautify my face, do my hair, or wear fancy clothes. The dinner was super light, and John arrived without his father. My little 2 year-old Chrissie was on my lap and she didn’t like John, and never did. My Chrissie was as blond as her father with his blue eyes. I had the sensation that I was to her an intruder, more like our colored house helper, though my husband Mark barely was home to taking care of her…”

“The Afrikaner father of John spoke English passably: He used to underline with a finger gesture the English idioms he told me..”  The father said: “John is pouring concrete around the perimeter of this humid house. We are witnessing less humidity inside.  This is a huge undertaking, isn’t John?”  From the tone of the dad’s voice I felt how he was trying hard to find any kind of merit in his 30 year-old eldest son…

“This week-end, my husband Mark made love to me with ardour, all the time and almost everywhere. Mark had this idea that I sensed on him the odor of his girlfriend in Durban and that I was out doing my erotic performances because of my acute woman smell…Mark had no idea that I cheated with John a couple of days ago, just for revenge. I felt a huge pride and excitement in thinking: “Wow, I am behaving like a slut, and I am discovering new horizons in my erotic abilities…”

“I spent seven consecutive nights with John as my husband Mark left to Hong Kong with his girlfriend. John would leave early in order not to meet with the house servant. My diagnostic of John’s love-making is that he was autistic in that matter.  An autistic regard the person he is in love with as an automaton, an entity created to his own desires. To John I was a Woman. Like the time he came extremely excited and asked me to make love on the adagio of Franz Schubert, on the ground that only music expresses the eroticism of the period. Like if I could care less how Mrs. Schubert felt with Mr. Schubert in Vienna of the 19th century…

I think sexual autistics prefer to masturbate instead of having real rapport with a human being…”

“The Afrikaners of the period (1970-1975) liked to be viewed as the “Afrikan” Israelite, cunning, unscrupulous, hard as leather, and attacking their prey overtly…In fact, the apartheid male Afrikaners were more like a pack of babies abandoned in a forest, a tribe of little kids with slaves to care for them…

“John could never be my charming Prince. Only once did John opened up his heart to me at the sight of my predicament of not knowing where my Chrissie was.  This is the only night I reached climax with John. He must have awakened at night and saw my beatific face and got scared.  I didn’t see him when I awoke. Do you think that I will ever forgive John for abandoning me after that night?…(To be continued)

Note 1: J.M. Coetzee received Nobel Award of literature in 2003, mostly based on his two autobiographical books “At the age of a man”, and “Scenes of the life of a young man”

Note 2: I liked the sexual autism part. I recall slapping the behind of a girlfriend once.  She was bewildered and demanded: “Why did you do that?” I replied: “I read in books that women like to have their behind slapped occasionally. This piece of intelligence is obviously not quite correct…” Enough of my dark humour for today.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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