Excerpt of Summertime by J M Coetzee
(Page 2 of 2)
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Alone and friendless at the remote tip of a hostile continent,
they erected their fortress state and retreated behind its walls:
there they would keep the flame of Western Christian civilization
burning until finally the world came to its senses.
That was the way they spoke, more or less, the men who
ran the National Party and the security state, and for a long time
he thought they spoke from the heart. But not any more. Their
talk of saving civilization, he now tends to think, has never been
anything but a bluff. Behind a smokescreen of patriotism they are
at this very moment sitting and calculating how long they can
keep the show running (the mines, the factories) before they will
need to pack their bags, shred any incriminating documents, and
fly off to Zürich or Monaco or San Diego, where under the cover
of holding companies with names like Algro Trading or Handfast
Securities they years ago bought themselves villas and apartments
as insurance against the day of reckoning (dies irae, dies illa).
According to his new, revised way of thinking, the men who
ordered the killer squad into Francistown have no mistaken
vision of history,much less a tragic one. Indeed, they most likely
laugh up their sleeves at folk so silly as to have visions of any
kind. As for the fate of Christian civilization in Africa, they
have never given two hoots about it. And these these! are
the men under whose dirty thumb he lives!
To be expanded on: his fathers response to the times as compared to
his own; their differences, their (overriding) similarities.
Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Summertime Copyright © J.M. Coetzee, 2009