A banquet speech upon the presentation of the Nobel Prize, I take it, usually consists of pleasant and polite platitudes. In his extremely brief banquet speech, however, Coetzee makes two striking statements. Those statements are made by Coetzee himself, not by his character Elizabeth Costello. We are freed from any discussion about what statements by characters in his novels say about the ideas of the author himself, or about the authority which the reader must attribute to the narrator. We are freed, for the moment, of that horrible, ever-recurring question: does he really mean this?