The Alexander Altschuller Collection of J. M. Coetzee contains correspondence between
Coetzee and editors at his British publisher, Secker & Warburg, and his
American publisher, Viking Penguin, as well as drafts, galley proofs, setting
publicity photos, publishing materials, and materials used by Coetzee for public
readings. The collection is organized in three series: I. Works and Publishing,
1981-1996, undated; II. Publishing Correspondence, 1986-2003, undated; and III.
Reading Excerpts, 1986-2005, undated.
The majority of the works in Series I., represented by handwritten drafts, proof
sets, and setting copy, show some emendations by Coetzee and/or a copyeditor.
drafts contain more extensive revisions, such as the items related to his short
story “A Woman Grows Older.” These materials display Coetzee’s compositional process
through a progression of six drafts, all but the last of which contain heavy
revisions in Coetzee’s hand. At the top of each draft in the collection, Coetzee
noted the date and often the place at which he worked on it.
The correspondence in Series II., relating to such works as Dusklands,
Life and Times of Michael K, and Waiting for the Barbarians, is predominately business
related and contains discussions of his work in detail, publication elements such
preliminary pages, biographical notes, and dust jacket art, as well as routine
editorial queries and responses.
Series III. consists largely of photocopied and printed excerpts used by Coetzee
readings in the United States, Hong Kong, and South Africa from 1986 to 2005.
the texts include notes indicating starting and stopping points and minor revisions,
and some texts, such as for Boyhood and Waiting for the Barbarians, contain page-long
These materials were assembled by Alexander Altschuller, a Massachusetts cardiologist
and collector of modern and Russian literature.