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Ian Glenn Responds to Imraan Coovadia (Again)

JM CoetzeeIn the latest installment of Imraan Coovadia and Ian Glenn’s public debate over South Africa’s literary shadow, JM Coetzee, Glenn responds to Coovadia’s response to Glenn’s response to Coovadia’s essay on Coetzee and recent review of JM Coetzee: A Life in Writing.


The original point of contention between these two University of Cape Town academics was an essay that Coovadia wrote for Kritika Kultura on Coetzee’s relocation from Cape Town to Adelaide, which was reprinted in his book, Transformations. Glenn wrote a response to this on LitNet, titled “Coovadia, Coetzee and the literary field of post-apartheid South Africa”, in which he also mentions Coovadia’s scathing review of JC Kannemeyer’s biography of Coetzee, which had appeared in the Mail & Guardian a few weeks earlier. Glenn disputed points Coovadia had made in both the essay and review.

A reply from Coovadia then appeared on Omar Badsha’s public Facebook page, saying that this exchange has come after “a long and unnecessary feud” between the two of them. The post caused a fairly heated flurry of comments in support of Coovadia and the piece was also then published on LitNet.

Glenn has since commented on the LitNet post with his reply to Coovadia. Starting with a quote from the movie Casablanca, Glenn ends his comment off with “He must be the tender one here as I barely think this public argument has reached feud status yet, though who knows, given time, it could, cue Casablanca, be the beginning of a beautiful feudship.”

Read Glenn’s latest response (in the comments section, following Coovadia’s piece):

Captain Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

- Casablanca

In his response, Imraan Coovadia tries Rick’s line as a way of explaining his errors, but he is even more disingenuous. Coovadia originally attributed the Michael-Maxwell name change information to an ‘astute young critic’, unnamed, who now turns out be a misinformer. I think it is a sorry comment on his scholarly standards that he ran with a claim that, had it been reported in a tabloid, would have attracted scathing comments on journalistic incompetence. Any editor faced with a story like this from a reporter would have asked the obvious questions: what do you mean, he changed his name? Legally? When? What evidence do you have?

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Image courtesy LitNet


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