Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Tuesday, December 09, 2003  

When, years ago, he resolved to set down on paper the story of his island, he found that the words would not come, the pen would not flow, his very fingers were stiff and reluctant. But day by day, step by step, he mastered the writing business, until by the time of his adventures with Friday in the frozen north the pages were rolling off easily, even thoughtlessly.

That old ease of composition has, alas, deserted him. When he seats himself at the little writing-desk before the window looking over Bristol harbour, his hand feels as clumsy and the pen as foreign an instrument as ever before.

Does he, the other one, that man of his, find the writing business easier? The stories he writes of ducks and machines of death and London under the plague flow prettily enough; but then so did his own stories once. Perhaps he misjudges him, that dapper little man with the quick step and the mole upon his chin. Perhaps at this very moment he sits alone in a hired room somewhere in this wide kingdom dipping the pen and dipping it again, full of doubts and hesitations and second thoughts....

-- From this year's Nobel Laureate for Literature, JM Coetzee's Nobel Lecture, He and his man, delivered in Stockholm last Sunday. (Legend has it, of course, that Robinson Crusoe's island was Tobago.)

posted by Jonathan | 2:26 PM 0 comments


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