AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 1104721171012338432.jpg
This image has been sourced from Text Publishing website
y separately published work icon The Schooldays of Jesus single work   single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 The Schooldays of Jesus
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'When you travel across the ocean on a boat, all your memories are washed away and you start a completely new life. That is how it is. There is no before. There is no history. The boat docks at the harbour and we climb down the gangplank and we are plunged into the here and now. Time begins.'

'David is the small boy who is always asking questions. Simón and Inés take care of him in their new country. He is learning the language; he has begun to make friends. He has the big dog Bolívar to watch over him. But he’ll be seven soon. He should be at school. And so David is enrolled in the Academy of Dance in Estrella. It’s here, in his new golden dancing slippers, that he learns how to call down the numbers from the sky. But it’s here too that he will make troubling discoveries about what grown-ups are capable of.'

'The Schooldays of Jesus, the startling sequel to J. M. Coetzee’s widely praised The Childhood of Jesus, will beguile its readers. With the mysterious simplicity of a fable, it tells a story that raises the most direct questions about life itself.' (Source: Text Publishing website)

Notes

  • Epigraph: Algunos dicen: Nunca segundas partes fueron buenas –Don Quixote II.4
  • Other formats: Also sound recording.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2016 .
      image of person or book cover 1104721171012338432.jpg
      This image has been sourced from Text Publishing website
      Extent: 288p.
      Note/s:
      • Published August 2016
      ISBN: 9781925355789 (hbk), 9781925410204

Works about this Work

J. M. Coetzee, The Schooldays of Jesus Sienna Barton , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Transnational Literature , November vol. 10 no. 1 2017;

'J. M. Coetzee’s latest novel makes for difficult reading. I have read The Schooldays of Jesus three times, and each time I pick up a new thread to follow, but am somehow unable to piece together the work’s complete meaning (if there is ‘one meaning’). On the one hand, it references both Russian and Spanish literature (Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Cervantes’ Don Quixote) whilst alluding to the son of God in its title, and on the other, it can be read on its own as a meditation on the concepts of passion and memory. Like in 2013’s The Childhood of Jesus, we don’t see Jesus at all and he isn’t mentioned by name. In fact, we might as well be situated in a world where Jesus doesn’t exist, as the characters’ conversations lean toward the philosophical rather than the religious. There is not the slightest mention of religion or prayer. The elusiveness of the book’s titular character leads one to an allegorical reading, rather than a literal one. What the allegory is, though, I cannot be sure. We are privy not to the childhood and schooldays of Jesus the son of God, but of a self-assured young boy named Davíd, and his parents are not Joseph and The Virgin Mary, but two strangers: the boring middle-aged Simón and the sexless, perhaps virginal, Inés.' (Introduction)

Taking the Name of Jesus : John Coetzee's Second Childhood Book Peter Craven , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Meanjin , Winter vol. 76 no. 2 2017; (p. 140-149)

'The first thing to be said about The Schooldays of Jesus is that like its predecessor, The Childhood of Jesus (of which it is the continuation), this new book is remarkably odd. The second thing to say is that like its precursor it is a masterpiece: it comes across as Shakespeare's Henry IV Part Two does, despite naysayers, as the second part of the same masterpiece. And who could ever have imagined that J.M. Coetzee, the celebrated South African Nobel Prize winner who expatriated himself to Adelaide as if its sandstone and the symmetrical grid of its cityscape were the recapitulation of a kindred colonialism, should now be writing what are essentially - or at any rate incidentally - parables about the lost childhood of some chosen child called David, like a teasing joke of genealogy, who is somehow (the title seems to suggest) the Messiah, the Christ Child, whose ego is the sum of all the becauses in the world, and every high priest will rip up his garments in awe either at the blasphemy of it all or because this is the apparition of the shadow of the Most High.' (Introduction)

Shadows & Ghosts Colm Toibin , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: The New York Review of Books , 11 May 2017;
'For any novelist, the relationship between the past and the present offers interesting choices. Although working this out often requires cunning and guile, sometimes the simplest strategy, such as a pause in the narrative for pure, unadulterated backstory, is the most effective. At the opening of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, for example, we are in Gardencourt, a house overlooking the river Thames. If this were a play or a film, we could be briskly told how and where Isabel Archer was found in Albany by her aunt, Mrs. Touchett. But James in Chapter Three of the novel will slowly take us back to the time when Isabel is visited by her aunt. It is as if the previous two chapters had not yet occurred. And then in the next chapter James will take up again the story that began with Isabel’s arrival at Gardencourt as though his system were an aspect of the leisure and ease that many of his characters enjoy, or indeed suffer.' (Introduction)
Play of Passions Jack Miles , 2017 single work essay review
— Appears in: The New York Times Book Review , 26 February 2017; (p. 13)

'In the Myth of Er, told or retold by Socrates at the end of Plato’s “Republic,” we learn that after death souls are reincarnated only after crossing Lethe, the River of Oblivion. In his 2013 novel “The Childhood of Jesus” and now in its sequel, “The Schooldays of Jesus,” J.M. Coetzee has written a pair of stylistically realistic novels with, however, a Lethe premise more at home in myth. Everyone in the Spanish-speaking country where these novels are set has arrived by ship, and the voyage has washed every immigrant’s memory clean of all recollection of a previous life. Page by page, the larger portion of both novels is taken up by quasi-Platonic dialogues that struggle back toward a-Lethe-ia — Greek for “truth,” a truth left behind on the far side of Lethe. But, by a brilliant turn, the central symposiasts are Simón, a man in his 40s, and Davíd, a boy who is 5 as “Childhood” opens and 7 as “Schooldays” ends.' (Introduction)

Man Booker Prize Longlist 2016 : Adelaide Uni's JM Coetzee Vying to Win for Third Time Latika Bourke , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: Brisbane Times , 28 July 2016;
'...Coetzee's The Schooldays of Jesus has been named in the 2016 longlist alongside four authors with debut novels: David Means (Hystopia), Virginia Reeves (Work Like Any Other), Ottessa Moshfegh (Eileen) and Wyl Menmuir (The Many). ...'
J. M. Coetzee, The Schooldays of Jesus QSS , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 10 September 2016;

— Review of The Schooldays of Jesus J. M. Coetzee , 2016 single work single work novel
The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee Is an Elaborate Number-dance Andrew Rlemer , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: Brisbane Times , 9 September 2016;

— Review of The Schooldays of Jesus J. M. Coetzee , 2016 single work single work novel
'The Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee's new novel begins with an epigraph in Spanish from Don Quixote: "Some say that second parts are never any good." This can be seen either as a challenge or as an insurance policy, perhaps both. The Schooldays of Jesus is a sequel to (or more accurately a continuation of) Coetzee's 2013 novel The Childhood of Jesus. In this "second part" Coetzee ensures that the main preoccupations of his earlier work are alluded to, though often in so oblique a manner that readers unfamiliar with it might well find themselves puzzled and perplexed. ...'
Novelist of the Sorrowful Countenance James Ley , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: Sydney Review of Books , October 2016;

— Review of The Schooldays of Jesus J. M. Coetzee , 2016 single work single work novel
The Escapologist : Possible Equivalences in a Cat-and-Mouse Game Sue Kossew , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , October no. 385 2016; (p. 29-30)

— Review of The Schooldays of Jesus J. M. Coetzee , 2016 single work single work novel
'n order to grasp the complexity of allusions in J.M. Coetzee's new novel, The Schooldays of Jesus, you need to have your wits about you. On the other hand, as with its prequel, The Childhood of Jesus (2013), the novel may also be read fairly simply, as a fable. As a sequel to the first 'Jesus' novel, it progresses the story of Simón, Inés, and David, the 'holy family,' as they continue their journey, with their dog Bolívar, from the town named Novilla to a new town, Estrella, meaning 'star' in Spanish, in an unspecified Spanish-speaking country.' (Introduction)
The Antipodes of the Imagination. Geordie Williamson , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: The Monthly , November no. 128 2016; (p. 44-47)

— Review of The Schooldays of Jesus J. M. Coetzee , 2016 single work single work novel
Man Booker Prize Judges Reveal 2016 Longlist Mark Brown , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 28 July 2016;
'Two-time winner JM Coetzee’s latest book is on list along with little-reviewed crime thriller by Graeme Macrae Burnet ...'
Man Booker Prize Longlist 2016 : Adelaide Uni's JM Coetzee Vying to Win for Third Time Latika Bourke , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: Brisbane Times , 28 July 2016;
'...Coetzee's The Schooldays of Jesus has been named in the 2016 longlist alongside four authors with debut novels: David Means (Hystopia), Virginia Reeves (Work Like Any Other), Ottessa Moshfegh (Eileen) and Wyl Menmuir (The Many). ...'
Play of Passions Jack Miles , 2017 single work essay review
— Appears in: The New York Times Book Review , 26 February 2017; (p. 13)

'In the Myth of Er, told or retold by Socrates at the end of Plato’s “Republic,” we learn that after death souls are reincarnated only after crossing Lethe, the River of Oblivion. In his 2013 novel “The Childhood of Jesus” and now in its sequel, “The Schooldays of Jesus,” J.M. Coetzee has written a pair of stylistically realistic novels with, however, a Lethe premise more at home in myth. Everyone in the Spanish-speaking country where these novels are set has arrived by ship, and the voyage has washed every immigrant’s memory clean of all recollection of a previous life. Page by page, the larger portion of both novels is taken up by quasi-Platonic dialogues that struggle back toward a-Lethe-ia — Greek for “truth,” a truth left behind on the far side of Lethe. But, by a brilliant turn, the central symposiasts are Simón, a man in his 40s, and Davíd, a boy who is 5 as “Childhood” opens and 7 as “Schooldays” ends.' (Introduction)

Shadows & Ghosts Colm Toibin , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: The New York Review of Books , 11 May 2017;
'For any novelist, the relationship between the past and the present offers interesting choices. Although working this out often requires cunning and guile, sometimes the simplest strategy, such as a pause in the narrative for pure, unadulterated backstory, is the most effective. At the opening of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, for example, we are in Gardencourt, a house overlooking the river Thames. If this were a play or a film, we could be briskly told how and where Isabel Archer was found in Albany by her aunt, Mrs. Touchett. But James in Chapter Three of the novel will slowly take us back to the time when Isabel is visited by her aunt. It is as if the previous two chapters had not yet occurred. And then in the next chapter James will take up again the story that began with Isabel’s arrival at Gardencourt as though his system were an aspect of the leisure and ease that many of his characters enjoy, or indeed suffer.' (Introduction)
Taking the Name of Jesus : John Coetzee's Second Childhood Book Peter Craven , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Meanjin , Winter vol. 76 no. 2 2017; (p. 140-149)

'The first thing to be said about The Schooldays of Jesus is that like its predecessor, The Childhood of Jesus (of which it is the continuation), this new book is remarkably odd. The second thing to say is that like its precursor it is a masterpiece: it comes across as Shakespeare's Henry IV Part Two does, despite naysayers, as the second part of the same masterpiece. And who could ever have imagined that J.M. Coetzee, the celebrated South African Nobel Prize winner who expatriated himself to Adelaide as if its sandstone and the symmetrical grid of its cityscape were the recapitulation of a kindred colonialism, should now be writing what are essentially - or at any rate incidentally - parables about the lost childhood of some chosen child called David, like a teasing joke of genealogy, who is somehow (the title seems to suggest) the Messiah, the Christ Child, whose ego is the sum of all the becauses in the world, and every high priest will rip up his garments in awe either at the blasphemy of it all or because this is the apparition of the shadow of the Most High.' (Introduction)

Awards

2016 longlisted Man Booker Prize (UK) International Awards Booker Prize (UK)
Last amended 15 May 2018 13:16:07
X