In this second volume of memoirs (the first being 'Boyhood'), John is a Math and English student in Capetown, hoping to flee the country (which is in a political storm) and become a poet. He does so, arriving in London, and he doesn't feel the place is right, or the people living in it: he knows he's got talent for writing though no one seems to notice the 'sacred fire' lying within him, and he starts to suspect if poetry is what he's destined to write. Or is it prose? Or is it fiction? The book won't answer that, but the author's biography will: Coetzee won the Nobel Prize of Literature for his essays and novels. In 'Youth', John only composes his first short story, 'an experiment' with no plot.
These artistic meditations go along with his rather promiscuous life in South Afrika and England. He's also looking for the right woman, but as his experience tells him he's not capable of engaging to anyone yet. He hasn't found the one who will look into his 'sacred fire' for life either. Is there such a woman? The book doesn't tell, and the story leaves John looking forward.
This report prepared by Augusto Wong Campos