Maia Stefana Oprea

Boyhood : Scenes From Provincial Life – J M Coetzee

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Since it’s Sunday again, it’s time for the second readrawing!

Boyhood mother 2

    Early Monday morning this week    Coetzee’s novel “Boyhood” winked at me from the top shelf.

“Boyhood: Scenes From Provincial Life”   chronicles Coetzee’s childhood in a small city 90 miles from Cape Town, in Worcester, on 12, Poplar Avenue…

   coincidences are everywhere !

Traumatized, acute, Coetzee’s sensibility wields ironies that can transform a torturer’s rule of thumb — ”Pain is truth; all else is subject to doubt” — into a resonant, if bleak, summary of the human condition.What kind of life produces such a sensibility?

(“Portrait of the Writer as an Afrikaner” by Rand Richards Cooper)

Boyhood, oil pastels on cardboard, ~ 17 x 17 cm

Boyhood, oil pastels on cardboard, ~ 17 x 17 cm

I was left with a strange feeling after finishing “Boyhood”, as I was expecting something much darker, much full of anger and violence, maybe similar to “Disgrace”, Coetzee’s novel which I was most familiar with. The child’s fear, shame, terror and disgust are packed in such an intimate soft aura that I got carried away gently until the end, but only to await the “Youth” part of the trilogy.

detail of "Boyhood"

detail of “Boyhood”

  Visually, I perceived all characters to be under the guidance of John’s character, somewhere far away from him, but under his deep ‘surveillance’. I decided for the lack of a focal point, which, in combination with the extreme saturation of the yellow, green and red hues, may have the same disturbing effect as the novel had upon me. Very intense and vivid, and yet unsettling, as if there is nothing to rely upon, to the point that you decide to step into the yellow naked little body and simply look back in time.


Author: maiastefana

Visual Artist portfolio: available artworks: blog:

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