We are not by nature cruel.

J. M. Coetzee

I see no marks of Wordsworths style of writing or style of thinking in my own work, yet Wordsworth is a constant presence when I write about human beings and their relations to the natural world.

J. M. Coetzee

There are works of literature whose influence is strong but indirect because it is mediated through the whole of the culture rather than immediately through imitation. Wordsworth is the case that comes to mind.

J. M. Coetzee

The writers who have the deepest influence on one are those one reads in ones more impressionable, early life, and often it is the more youthful works of those writers that leave the deepest imprint.

J. M. Coetzee

The most important of all rights is the right to life, and I cannot foresee a day when domesticated animals will be granted that right in law.

J. M. Coetzee

The mode of consciousness of nonhuman species is quite different from human consciousness.

J. M. Coetzee

Read more quotes from these Nobel Laureates in Literature:

Doris LessingAlice MunroKazuo IshiguroJean Paul Sartre
Mario Vargas LlosaBob DylanPearl S. Buck Albert Camus
J. M. CoetzeeOrhan PamukV.S. Naipaul Seamus Heaney
Ernest HemingwayNadine GordimerG√ľnter GrassKenzaburo Oe
Harold PinterDario FoJose SaramagoWislawa Szymborska
Wole SoyinkaOctavio PazAndre GideGabriel Garcia Marquez
Patrick WhitePablo NerudaSamuel BeckettShmuel Y. Agnon
Bertrand RussellNaguib MahfouzJoseph BrodskyJohn Steinbeck
Salvatore Quasimodo Aleksandr SolzhenitsynThomas MannHermann Hesse

The idea of writer as sage is pretty much dead today. I would certainly feel very uncomfortable in the role.

J. M. Coetzee

That has always seemed to me one of the stranger aspects of literary fame: you prove your competence as a writer and an inventor of stories, and then people clamour for you to make speeches and tell them what you think about the world.

J. M. Coetzee

Strictly speaking, my interest is not in legal rights for animals but in a change of heart towards animals.

J. M. Coetzee

My response, a dubious and hesitant one, is that it has been and may continue to be, in the time that is left to me, more productive to live out the question than to try to answer it in abstract terms.

J. M. Coetzee

I say that I represent this movement because my intellectual allegiances are clearly European, not African.

J. M. Coetzee

If it is indeed impossible – or at least very difficult – to inhabit the consciousness of an animal, then in writing about animals there is a temptation to project upon them feelings and thoughts that may belong only to our own human mind and heart.

J. M. Coetzee

Elizabeth, Lady C, claims to be writing at the limits of language. Would it not be insulting to her if I were diligently to follow after her, explaining what she means but is not smart enough to say?

J. M. Coetzee

In order to be cruel we have to close our hearts to the suffering of the other.

J. M. Coetzee

As for September 11, let us not too easily grant the Americans possession of that date on the calendar. Like May 1 or July 14 or December 25, September 11 may seem full of significance to some people, while to other people it is just another day.

J. M. Coetzee

I tend to resist invitations to interpret my own fiction.

J. M. Coetzee

As you see, I do not treat the creation of fiction, that to say the invention and development of fantasies, as a form of abstract thought. I dont wish to deny the uses of the intellect, but sometimes one has the intuition that the intellect by itself will lead one nowhere.

J. M. Coetzee

If there were a better, clearer, shorter way of saying what the fiction says, then why not scrap the fiction?

J. M. Coetzee

In its conception the literature prize belongs to days when a writer could still be thought of as, by virtue of his or her occupation, a sage, someone with no institutional affiliations who could offer an authoritative word on our times as well as on our moral life.

J. M. Coetzee