James Womack

Glossed in Translation

Late Essays


Harvill Secker 297pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

‘I wouldn’t have said Balthus was naive. I’d have said on the contrary that he’s very sophisticated.’

‘It’s the same thing,’ Alberto stated flatly.

This exchange, from James Lord’s A Giacometti Portrait, could serve as an epigraph to this collection of J M Coetzee’s essays, which move uncomfortably between the interestingly complex and the surprisingly straightforward. They are billed as ‘late’ essays, but it would be a shame if ‘late’ were held to indicate that they stand at the end of a career (like Beethoven’s Late Quartets) rather than that they are of recent production (‘I have of late, but wherefore I know not…’): they mark an obvious weakening in focus and a concentration of critical faculties on odd and unrewarding terrain.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,
    • RT : Joanna Kavenna’s ‘Cooking with Trotsky’s Frying Pan’ in June’s is the most well written and interesting… ,