J.M. Coetzee and the Idea of Africa

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The debate over representations of Africa in J.M. Coetzee's fiction tends to collapse into two irreconcilable positions: (a) he is either uninterested in the African subject or represents it as diminished, or (b) this accusation is naïve and oblivious to the autotelic qualities of Coetzee's fiction. This article seeks to move beyond these positions by looking at moments in Coetzee's writing when he actually does deploy Africa as sign. Analysis of these moments reveals that the sign of Africa in Coetzee is frequently rendered potent, mysterious and obscure – occulted – in order to achieve certain aesthetic effects. These effects are consistent with his efforts to enable fiction to reprise prevailing historical discourses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
JournalJournal of Literary Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Appeared in Special Issue:J.M. Coetzee and His Doubles.

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