'A young English biographer is working on a book about the late writer, John Coetzee. He plans to focus on the years from 1972 - 1977 when Coetzee, in his thirties, is sharing a run-down cottage in the suburbs of Cape Town with his widowed father. This, the biographer senses, is the period when he was finding his feet as a writer. Never having met Coetzee, he embarks on a series of interviews with people who were important to him: a married woman with whom he had an affair, his favourite cousin Margot, a Brazilian dancer whose daughter had English lessons with him, former friends and colleagues. From their testimony emerges a portrait of the young Coetzee as an awkward, bookish individual with little talent for opening himself to others. Within the family he is regarded as an outsider, someone who tried to flee the tribe and has now returned, chastened. His insistence on doing manual work, his long hair and beard, rumours that he writes poetry evoke nothing but suspicion in the South Africa of the time.
Sometimes heartbreaking, often very funny, Summertime shows us a great writer as he limbers up for his task. It completes the majestic trilogy of fictionalised memoir begun with Boyhood and Youth.' (Provided by the publisher.)
My thanks to Marilia Bandeira for assistance with Brazilian Portuguese, and to the estate of Samuel Beckett for permission to quote (in fact to misquote) from Waiting for Godot.
The bibliographical listing of this work has been extended in the course of a 2014/15 project to create a comprehensive bibliography of Coetzee's works. We believe the record for the novel and its relationship to the revised version in Scenes of Provincial Life is comprehensive. However, due to the enormous breadth of critical material on Coetzee's work, indexing of secondary sources is not complete.
We are grateful for the author's and Indiana University's Professor Breon Mitchell's assistance in compiling this record.
'In this article, I argue that J.M. Coetzee’s autobiographical trilogy can be read as a set of texts in which the author responds to the problem of cynical self-doubt, as it is described in Coetzee’s writings on confession from the mid-1980s. Against Derek Attridge’s critical view of the relation between Coetzee’s autobiographies and these early writings, I argue that Coetzee’s texts do not passively abide by the author’s early scepticism, but rather inspect the grounds of cynical self-doubt and show its position to be intellectually confused. I specifically demonstrate that Coetzee’s texts present cynical self-doubt as an intellectualisation of akratic failure (weakness of will). The texts not only analyse the crisis from which cynical self-doubt emerges, but also try to look beyond a sceptical perspective. With this in mind, this article will read Coetzee’s autobiographies as writings that “aspire to a condition of gossip”. In this aspiration, the autobiographies point to an ethic of assent they themselves cannot yet fully inhabit.' (Author's abstract)