Book Reviews JM Coetzee: Small Man

JM Coetzee: Small Man

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I can’t say I enjoyed this book. It is all about the angst of growing old and being alone and is an exploration of the tenuousness of relationships and the inability to really connect with anyone else. Paul cannot connect and cannot apprehend the connections that exist between the members of the Jokiç family. So his attempts to connect to them are not based on love, even though he says he loves Marijana. His attempts come from patronage based on his personal needs. He lives in his box of words which isolates him from those around him.

 

Even in his desire for sex, it is simply the desire for gratification of his needs. His sexual desires are illicit and his sexual encounter is reduced to groping.

 

He says he does not believe in God but his atheism has not given him the wider understanding of existence that repudiation of creationism brings. He would be better off believing in God; that would help him make the connections that he cannot make.

 

He believes in his own superiority, his patronage, his wealth, his superior intellect but he is incapable of a simple act of real love like the Jokiç family demonstrates in restoring his bicycle and making it more suitable for his needs.

 

Paul is really a small man.

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