One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Coetzee's "Age of Iron": Vercueil

For me at least it has been hard to accept the relationship between Mrs. Curren and Vercueil. It's been difficult to suspend disbelief. Their relationship seems like a non-starter: he is a filthy, homeless, drunk. Supposedly there's a connection between their story and Tolstoy's What Men Live By (about a shoemaker and an angel = destitute man), but I've not read it (or haven't read it in years).

Perhaps this section (p. 131) has shed a little light on things: i.e., We proceed through life--fumbling through the dark--even though we do not understand why we do what we do.

Here's Mrs. Curren trying to make sense out of their relationship:
   I give my life to Vercueil to carry over. I trust Vercueil because I do not trust Vercueil. I love him because I do not love him. Because he is the weak reed I lean upon him.
   I may seem to understand what I say, but, believe me, I do not. From the beginning, when I found him behind the garage in his cardboard house, sleeping, waiting, I have understood nothing. I am feeling my way along a passage that grows darker all the time. I am feeling my way toward you; with each word I feel my way.
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