Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy
A fascinating dialogue on the human inclination to make up stories between a Nobel Prize-winning writer and a psychotherapist.
The Good Story is an exchange between a writer with a longstanding interest in moral psychology and a psychotherapist with a training in literary studies. J. M. Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz consider psychotherapy and its wider social context from different perspectives, but at the heart of both their approaches is a concern with stories.
Working alone, the writer is in sole charge of the story he or she tells. The therapist, on the other hand, collaborates with the patient in telling the story of their life. What kind of truth do the stories created by patient and therapist aim to uncover: objective truth or the shifting and subjective truth of memories explored and re-experienced in the safety of the therapeutic relationship?
Drawing on great writers like Cervantes and Dostoevsky and on psychoanalysts like Freud and Melanie Klein, the authors offer illuminating insights into the stories we tell of our lives.
“It is the Man Booker prize-winning novelist’s agenda that drives the absorbing discussions of this book. Kurtz’s pieces are replies to Coetzee’s questions, and as such are insightful for both [psychoanalysis and novel-writing]”
Gerard Woodward, Independent
“Coetzee and Kurtz range freely across space and time, from ancient spells of bewitchment to the "confessions" of celebrities in magazines. Their arguments have a meditative quality, challenging, and helpfully open-ended”
Lewis Jones, Newsweek Europe
“Coetzee’s writing is characteristically spare and penetrating… Kurtz proves both a lucid expositor and an evocative literary stylist, bringing psychoanalytic ideas and practices to life with rare precision and immediacy”
Josh Cohen, Literary Review
“[Arabella Kurtz] writes with wonderful eloquence about imagination and the self, parrying Coetzee's relentless unmasking with her gently intelligent demurral”
Tessa Hadley, Guardian
“Coetzee is an exceptionally clear thinker, and his gift for expressing complex concepts through considered, precise prose is impressive”