(I)f we are going to be kind, let it be out of simple generosity, not because we fear guilt or retribution.

β€” J. M. Coetzee

The most unforgettable J. M. Coetzee quotes that will activate your inner potential

The writers who have the deepest influence on one are those one reads in ones more impressionable, early life, and often it is the more youthful works of those writers that leave the deepest imprint.

50

Let me say it openly: we are surrounded by an enterprise of degradation, cruelty, and killing which rivals anything the Third Reich was capable of, indeed dwarfs it, in that ours is an enterprise without end, self-regenerating, bringing rabbits, rats, poultry, livestock ceaselessly into the world for the purpose of killing them.

38

Children all over the world consort quite naturally with animals.

They don't see any dividing line. That is something they have to be taught, just as they have to be taught it is all right to kill and eat them.

24

When all else fails, philosophize.

24

Truth is not spoken in anger. Truth is spoken, if it ever comes to be spoken, in love. The gaze of love is not deluded. It sees what is best in the beloved even when what is best in the beloved finds it hard to emerge into the light.

22

We must cultivate, all of us, a certain ignorance, a certain blindness, or society will not be tolerable.

21

I know somewhat too much; and from this knowledge, once one has been infected, there seems to be no recovering.

17

I don't think we are ready to die, any of us, not without being escorted.

16

In its conception the literature prize belongs to days when a writer could still be thought of as, by virtue of his or her occupation, a sage, someone with no institutional affiliations who could offer an authoritative word on our times as well as on our moral life.

16

The masters of information have forgotten about poetry, where words may have a meaning quite different from what the lexicon says, where the metaphoric spark is always one jump ahead of the decoding function, where another, unforeseen reading is always possible.

15

Become major, Paul. Live like a hero. That's what the classics teach us. Be a main character. Otherwise what is life for?

14

Because a women's beauty does not belong to her alone.

It is a part of the bounty she brings into the world. She has a duty to share it.

13

About J. M. Coetzee

Quotes 114 sayings
Profession Novelist
Birthday February 9, 1940

Strictly speaking, my interest is not in legal rights for animals but in a change of heart towards animals.

12

Words are coin. Words alienate. Language is no medium for desire. Desire is rapture, not exchange.

11

Belief may be no more, in the end, than a source of energy, like a battery which one clips into an idea to make it run.

10

From one seed a whole handful: that was what it meant to say the bounty of the earth.

8

One thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of Empire: how not to end, how not to die, how to prolong its era. By day it pursues its enemies. It is cunning and ruthless, it sends its bloodhounds everywhere. By night it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of cities, the rape of populations, pyramids of bones, acres of desolation.

8

The highest type of intelligence, says Aristotle, manifests itself in an ability to see connections where no one has seen them before, that is, to think analogically.

7

The mode of consciousness of nonhuman species is quite different from human consciousness.

6

I am corrupted to the bone with the beauty of this forsaken world.

6

Restoration is a skilled profession. You might even call it an art in its own right, except that it is frowned on to be original. First rule of restoration: follow the intention of the artist. Never try to improve on him.

6

It’s admirable, what you do, what she does, but to me animal-welfare people are a bit like Christians of a certain kind. Everyone is so cheerful and well-intentioned that after a while you itch to go off and do some raping and pillaging. Or to kick a cat.

4

That has always seemed to me one of the stranger aspects of literary fame: you prove your competence as a writer and an inventor of stories, and then people clamour for you to make speeches and tell them what you think about the world.

4

I tend to resist invitations to interpret my own fiction.

3

I must not fall asleep in the middle of my life.

Out of the blankness that surrounds me I must pluck the incident after incident after incident whose little explosions keep me going.

3

My response, a dubious and hesitant one, is that it has been and may continue to be, in the time that is left to me, more productive to live out the question than to try to answer it in abstract terms.

3

His own opinion, which he does not air, is that the origin of speech lie in song, and the origins of song in the need to fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul.

3

Sleep is no longer a healing bath, a recuperation of vital forces, but an oblivion, a nightly brush with annihilation.

3

The spark of true poetry flashes when ideas are juxtaposed that no one has yet thought of bringing together.

3

Machiavelli says that if as a ruler you accept that your every action must pass moral scrutiny, you will without fail be defeated by an opponent who submits to no such moral test. To hold on to power, you have not only to master the crafts of deception and treachery but to be prepared to use them where necessary.

3

The modern state appeals to morality, to religion, and to natural law as the ideological foundation of its existence. At the same time it is prepared to infringe any or all of these in the interest of self-preservation.

3

The most important of all rights is the right to life, and I cannot foresee a day when domesticated animals will be granted that right in law.

3

As for September 11, let us not too easily grant the Americans possession of that date on the calendar. Like May 1 or July 14 or December 25, September 11 may seem full of significance to some people, while to other people it is just another day.

3

I say that I represent this movement because my intellectual allegiances are clearly European, not African.

3

Despair ... is like a gas, odourless, tasteless, without nourishment. You breathe it in, your limbs relax, you cease to care, even at the moment when the steel touches your throat.

2

The end of confession is to tell the truth to and for oneself.

2

His mind has become a refuge for old thoughts, idle, indigent, with nowhere else to go. He ought to chase them out, sweep the premises clean. But he does not care to do so, or does not care enough"(72).

2

For himself, then. For his idea of the world, a world in which men do not use shovels to beat corpses into a more convenient shape for processing.

2

He continues to teach because it provides him with a livelihood;

also because it teaches him humility, brings it home to him who he is in the world. The irony does not escape him: that the one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn learn nothing.

2

Censorship is not an occupation that attracts intelligent, subtle minds.

Censors can and often have been outwitted. But the game of slipping Aesopian messages past the censor is ultimately a sterile one, diverting writers from their proper task.

2

Once I lived in time as a fish in water, breathing it, drinking it, sustained by it. Now I kill time and time kills me.

1

I am spoken to not in words, which come to me quaint and veiled, but in signs, in conformations of face and hands, in postures of shoulders and feet, in nuances of tune and tone, in gaps and absences whose grammar has never been recorded.

1

Being a father ... I can't help feeling that, by comparison with being a mother, being a father is a rather abstract business.

1

Temperament is fixed, set. The skull, followed by the temperament: the two hardest parts of the body. Follow your temperament. It is not a philosophy, It is a rule, like the Rule of St Benedict.

1

I see no marks of Wordsworths style of writing or style of thinking in my own work, yet Wordsworth is a constant presence when I write about human beings and their relations to the natural world.

0

Just as we bemoan the passing away of the Great Novel, a great novelist is likely to emerge, perhaps even from Denmark or Switzerland, to prove us wrong.

0

To the last we have learned nothing. In all of us, deep down, there seems to be something granite and unteachable. No one truly believes, despite the hysteria in the streets that the world of tranquil certainties we were born into is about to be extinguished.

0

In order to be cruel we have to close our hearts to the suffering of the other.

0

Unbelief is a belief.

0