I’ll be blunt about it: I do not get these Coetzees. I suppose that the world he describes is meant to represent something, I have no idea what. I do not know if this world, where people arrive without any memories, is meant to be life on earth or paradise. I am clueless. In The Childhood the main characters live in some sort of communist state, thriving on water, bread and beans. In the Schooldays Coetzee gets metaphysical. Six-year old David and his class mates ‘feel’ numbers by dancing them. I am afraid I resemble Davids caretaker in my total lack of understanding of what this is about. I can only fathom that both novels are allegories. They do not provide answers, they make me question. I just wonder whether I am questioning the right things – not having a clue as to what I am supposed to question . The main characters are flat, there is hardly any development in the two novels. Simon is the level-headed one, though critical, just going along. Ines, Davids ‘mother’ is the prototype of mother, not doubting anything her son does or says. David to be quite honest is a pedantic, arrogant know-it-all who looks down on those who are less intelligent (practically everyone).
As I said, I am clueless as to Coetzees intent. I suspect the novels are mere vehicles for some philosophizing (are they?), which in itself is all right were it not for the fact that I personally would love a novel to be just that, a novel. I am afraid Coetzee lost me somewhere during the schooldays of his David (Jesus?). If there is going to be a sequel, I will steer clear from it.