J M Coetzee's "The Schooldays of Jesus" is certainly a beautiful piece of writing, even putting aside the annoyance factor of the central voice - Simon - speaking of himself as "he Simon".
If I'd read the story without knowing the title, I'd say it was a modern day tale of refugees, of the lost forming themselves into a new family group in order to create a new future.
But we can't ignore the title and therefore the central characters take on a different look. Our little family is comprised of Simon - an older, patient man who sees his task as protecting Ines and David. David is a precocious child, stubborn, difficult, arrogant even. He is insistent that he is all-knowing and alludes to being more than simply any child. Ines is David's mother - everyone seems to accept this, even David - but it is unclear whether she is biologically so, or whether they simply came together as refugees. And then we have Ana Magdalena who teaches David to dance. But Magdalena isn't who she seems to be - according to Dimitri. With that name, one can only wonder. Or does Dimitri lie?
So, do we have Simon as Joseph, Ines as Mary, David as Jesus, Ana Magdalena as Mary Magdelen? Please don't ask about Dimitri - I've no ideas on that one. Is this how it would look if Jesus first appeared in the current day? I cannot decide - and maybe one isn't meant to. Maybe it's just intended to make us think. Does Dimitri's behaviour and treatment at the hands of the justice system force us to examine how we deal with the mentally ill? But then there's the numerology as a religion/dance thing ... and I get lost.
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