Mastering authority: JM Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year

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J.M. Coetzee's fiction has, from its inception, parodied language which claims to speak as the public use of reason. Diary of a Bad Year departs from this position to some degree by offering a series of public reflections on the times; however, these reflections are embedded within a narrative structure which disallows us from taking them at face value. Such narrative framing raises the question of authority: not only the authority of the reflections themselves, but the authority of the voice and the voice in the text. The relationship between fiction and the public sphere is such that fiction foregrounds the problem of authority in public discourse and seeks to capture the position of authority through heightened forms of mimesis and self-consciousness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-221
Number of pages8
JournalSocial dynamics-A journal of the centre for african studies university of cape town
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • J
  • M
  • Coetzee
  • autobiography
  • fictionality
  • authority

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