A pianist falls grandly, helplessly in love in this elegant new novella from the twice-Booker Prize winner
The Pole and Other Stories is the latest book by J.M. Coetzee. In the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada (and now South Africa) it was published as the novella “The Pole” along with five short stories. In the United States it was published as a stand-alone novel, titled The Pole, and did not include the short stories.
The Pole centres around a Polish pianist, Witold, who even travels to Mallorca to be with Beatriz, a woman he has fallen in love with. All but one of the additional five stories collected along side “The Pole”, centre around the character of Elizabeth Costello, a character who has appeared before in Coetzee’s work and is sometimes described as Coetzee’s own alter ego.
The Pole tells the story of Witold Walczykiewicz, a vigorous, white-haired pianist who becomes infatuated with Beatriz, a stylish patron of the arts, after she helps organize his Barcelona concert.
Although Beatriz, who is married, is initially unimpressed by Wittold, she soon finds herself pursued and ineluctably swept into his world. As he sends her letters, extends countless invitations to travel, and even visits her husband’s summer home in Mallorca, their unlikely relationship blossoms, though only on her terms.
As the power struggle between them intensifies — Is it Beatriz who limits their passion by controlling her emotions? Or is it Witold, trying to force into life his dream of love? Evocative of Joyce’s ‘The Dead,’ The Pole is a haunting work, evoking the ‘inexhaustible palette of sensations, from blind love to compassion’ (El País) typical of Coetzee’s finest novels.
Published together with five exceptional stories, this new work from one of our greatest writers is a must for all literary connoisseurs.