Beiträge zu einer Kritik des ethnologischen Kulturbegriffs
J.M. Coetzee and Other Writers
The role played in history by the Slavic nations is greatly disproportionate to the extent of the territory occupied by them. (Herder 1997 : 299) I’ll be attending a conference on Samuel Beckett in the UK next month. Foolishly, I con- sented to do an e-mail interview with one of the organizers beforehand, on the subject of my relations with Beckett. As he and I are discovering, I don’t have anything new to say about Beckett, and perhaps don’t even have a relation with him. I certainly wouldn’t be the kind of writer I am if Beckett had never been born, but that sort of debt – call it a debt, for want of a better word – is best not scrutinized. (Auster & Coetzee 2013: 242) What one learns from Herbert is not a body of ideas but a certain style, hard, durable: a style that is also an approach to the world and to experience, political experience in- cluded. Ideas are certainly important – who would deny that? – but the fact is, the ideas that operate in novels and poems, once they are unpicked from their context and laid out on the laboratory table, usually turn out to be uncomplicated, even banal. Whereas a style, an attitude to the world, as it soaks in, becomes part of the personality, part of the self, ultimately indistinguishable from the self. To put it another way: in the process of responding to the writers one intuitively chooses to respond to, one makes oneself into the...