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1st Edition

J.M. Coetzee and the Paradox of Postcolonial Authorship

By Jane Poyner Copyright 2009
    ISBN 9780754654629
    214 Pages
    Published September 28, 2009 by Routledge

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    In her analysis of the South African novelist J. M. Coetzee's literary and intellectual career, Jane Poyner illuminates the author's abiding preoccupation with what Poyner calls the "paradox of postcolonial authorship". Writers of conscience or conscience-stricken writers of the kind Coetzee portrays, whilst striving symbolically to bring the stories of the marginal and the oppressed to light, always risk reimposing the very authority they seek to challenge. From Dusklands to Diary of a Bad Year, Poyner traces how Coetzee rehearses and revises his understanding of the ethics of intellectualism in parallel with the emergence of the "new South Africa". She contends that Coetzee's modernist aesthetics facilitate a more exacting critique of the problems that encumber postcolonial authorship, including the authority it necessarily engenders. Poyner is attentive to the ways Coetzee's writing addresses the writer's proper role with respect to the changing ethical demands of contemporary political life. Theoretically sophisticated and accessible, her book is a major contribution to our understanding of the Nobel Laureate and to postcolonial studies.

    Introduction Positioning the Writer; Chapter 1 “Father Makes Merry with Children”: Madness and Mythology in Dusklands; Chapter 2 Refusing to “Yield to the Spectre of Reason”: The Madwoman in the Attic in In the Heart of the Country; Chapter 3 Madness and Civilization in Waiting for the Barbarians; Chapter 4 Cultivating the Margins in the Trial of Michael K: “Strategies in the Service of Skepticism”; Chapter 5 Bodying Forth the Other: Friday and the “Discursive Situation” in Foe; Chapter 6 Writing in the Face of Death: “False Etymologies” and “Home Truths” in the Age of Iron; Chapter 7 Evading the Censor/Censoring the Self in The Master of Petersburg; Chapter 8 Truth and Reconciliation in Disgrace 1 An early version of this Chapter appeared in Scrutiny2 5.2 (2000).; Chapter 9 Coetzee’s Acts of Genre in the Later Works: Truth-telling, Fiction and the Public Intellectual;


    Jane Poyner is lecturer in postcolonial literature and theory at the University of Exeter.

    'Poyner's formulation and elaboration of the paradox of postcolonial authorship is compelling in Coetzee's case, and likely to prove a widely applicable paradigm for the study of other literatures dealing with the legacy of the colonial situation, which includes Australian literature.' Australian Literary Studies '... this is a well-researched and highly relevant book.' Notes and Queries

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