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Notes

Introduction

1. In South Africa, Coetzee has won the Mofolo-Plomer prize, the CNA prize (three times), the University of Cape Town Book Award, and the Pringle Prize for Criticism (twice). Internationally, he has won the Geoffrey Faber and James Tait Black Memorial prizes, the Booker-McConnell Prize, the Prix Femina Étranger, the Jerusalem Prize, and the Sunday Express Book of the Year Award. He is an honorary member of the Modern Languages Association and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature; he also holds honorary degrees from the University of Strathclyde and the State University of New York at Buffalo. [BACK]

2. The most pertinent essays are Michael Vaughan, "Literature and Politics"; Paul Rich, "Apartheid"; Peter Knox-Shaw, " Dusklands "; and Peter Kohler, "Freeburghers." [BACK]

3. Since Teresa Dovey's work, another book-length study has appeared, Dick Penner's Countries of the Mind. From a South African point of view, Penner's ethical universalism places him firmly in the metropolitan context; Penner's title is, among other things, a candid acknowledgment and defense of his critical detachment from South Africa (see "Preface" xv). Dovey's introduction to J. M. Coetzee: A Bibliography (Goddard and Read) provides a preliminary survey of the various contexts of reception of Coetzee's fiction, a question that merits further attention. [BACK]

4. I have written more extensively on Dovey's Novels of J. M. Coetzee in "The Problem of History in the Fiction of J. M. Coetzee." [BACK]

5. One of the more direct of political indictments comes from Michael Chapman, who, in a review of Dovey's Novels of J. M. Coetzee, dismisses Foe as providing "a kind of masturbatory release, in this country, for the Europeanising dreams of an intellectual coterie" (335). See Journal of Literary Studies 5.2 (1989), which represents the proceedings of a two-day seminar on Foe held at the

University of South Africa in March 1988, at which this conflict repeatedly surfaced. Annamaria Carusi studies this situation closely in ''Post, Post, and Post." [BACK]

6. Because some of my inferences from the nonfiction are put to Coetzee directly in J. M. Coetzee, Doubling the Point, the proper place for interested readers to look for intellectual biography is in those dialogues. [BACK]

One— Contexts: Literary, Historical, Intellectual

1. Although Coetzee does not follow Beckett down this path of eventual self-cancellation, parody and binary patterning do appear later in Coetzee's own stylistic repertoire as evidence of Beckett's lasting influence. [BACK]

2. Coetzee might also have been drawn to the mathematical dimensions of Beckett's prose because of his own background in mathematics and computer programming; his early publications include essays in stylostatistics and experiments in computer-generated poetry and stylistic analysis. [BACK]

3. "Much of my academic training was in Linguistics. And in many ways I am more interested in the linguistic than in the literary side of my academic profession. I think there is evidence of an interest in problems of language throughout my novels. I don't see any disruption between my professional interest in language and my activities as a writer" (Coetzee, "Interview de J. M. Coetzee" 43-44). [BACK]

4. This debate has received new impetus both from Ndebele's ongoing theoretical clarification of what he calls "progressive formalism" and from Albie Sachs's controversial in-house seminar with the ANC, which proposes that talk of culture as a "weapon of struggle" in South Africa be banned for a period of five years in the interests of imaginative diversity and tolerance (Ndebele, "Actors and Interpreters"; Sachs, "Preparing Ourselves for Freedom.") [BACK]

5. After the events of 1990, the weaknesses of such positions stand out more clearly: there is an ambiguity about the ethnic and class character of the oppressed groups being referred to, since the position of nationalist mass struggle, although politically ascendant, cannot but be unspecific about the meaning of the collectivity being mobilized; the stress on realism runs into the problem raised by Nkosi and Ndebele, the problem of epistemological transformation; the insistence on a formal alliance raises for many artists the specter of an internal, Stalinist policing. These questions and others are debated in the many responses to Albie Sachs's seminar (see note 4), collected in de Kok and Press, Spring Is Rebellious. [BACK]

6. It is not only in cultural production that South Africans find themselves polarized in this way. In the social sciences, adherents of an E. P. Thompsonian movement that produces underclass and "people's" microhistories stand off against political sociologists, the local heirs of Louis Althusser and Nicos Poulantzas, in an acrimonious debate about the nature of resistance and the structural relationships between capitalism and apartheid. For example, see Morris, "Social History." [BACK]

7. See Jan Haluska, "Master and Slave." Haluska takes Scholes's definition as his point of departure. The most common terms for the description of self-conscious narrative are reflexivity, metafiction, fabulation, parody, and allegory. My general description of Coetzee's novels as situational metafiction is not intended to be exclusive; I use other terms as the particular strategies of the novels demand. [BACK]

8. The term situational metafiction might be compared with Linda Hutcheon's recent delineation of what she calls "historiographic metafiction" ( Poetics of Postmodernism 105-23). Much of Hutcheon's analysis of postmodernism's renegotiation of the relations between fiction and history is applicable to Coetzee, and, indeed, she refers at some length to Foe (107-8). I retain the "situational" emphasis, however, which emerges from the total context in which the formal theorizing is done in this chapter. [BACK]

9. In this discussion of agency I am indebted to Tony Morphet, "Brushing History Against the Grain." [BACK]

10. See, for instance, Nicholas Visser, "Beyond the Interregnum." [BACK]

11. Further historical descriptions are given at the beginnings of chapters 3 and 4. Waiting for the Barbarians and Life and Times of Michael K refer obliquely to particular aspects of the state's response to this crisis. [BACK]

12. I am grateful to Andrew Nash for sharing with me his insights on the 1970s in South Africa and for drawing my attention to the Schlebusch Commission. [BACK]

Two— "The labyrinth of my history": Dusklands and in the Heart of the Country

1. In A Theory of Parody Linda Hutcheon discusses the ambivalence in parody between "conservative repetition and revolutionary difference" (77). The conservative element involves parody's implied respect for tradition, which must complicate the popular view that parody and satire are interchangeable, for parody is not necessarily critical. Considered in these terms, Coetzee's use of parody is complex and changing. Dusklands' s parody of colonial discourses is bleak, at times aggressive; in the later fiction, however, the parodied texts, such as Robinson Crusoe and Roxana, apart from being more literary, are treated with more respect. [BACK]

2. The extent to which Coetzee was grappling with the critical implications of fiction's address to readers can be gauged by his article "The First Sentence of Yvonne Burgess's The Strike " (1976), which appeared between the publication of the first two novels. Reading the codes of the Novel from the first line of Burgess's work, Coetzee argues that the book reaffirms a "social and character-ological typology" that ultimately assists in the consolidation of a "class bond" (48) in the circulation of literature. Coetzee's decision to decline the position of omniscience in the early novels is in opposition to this effect. [BACK]

3. For example, Michael Vaughan describes this structure as defining a mode of consciousness that he calls "Northern European Protestant," which is said to be "identical" in both contexts (123); similarly, Peter Knox-Shaw argues that the

two-part structure involves the attempt to "universalise from the particular" (35). [BACK]

4. The Jacobus Coetzee of the second part of Dusklands is based on an actual ancestor (see the commentary later in this chapter on Coetzee's parody of archival documents). However, in keeping with J. M. Coetzee's efforts to complicate historical knowledge in the moment of narration, he also names Eugene Dawn's supervisor "Coetzee." The effect is a retreat from conventions that preserve notions of authorial authenticity and objectivity. [BACK]

5. "Eugene," which also means "noble" or "well-born," could be a reference to Eugene McCarthy. An actual "New Life Hamlet'' project was undertaken in the context of "RD" (Revolutionary Development or Rural Development) strategies in Vietnam (a substrategy of what was called "pacification"). The "New Life Hamlet" project involved an attempt to recreate the traditional hamlet in order to encourage resistance to the infiltration of the Viet Cong in South Vietnam (Armbruster et al. 377-85). In The Backroom Boys Noam Chomsky records a number of similar, though jauntier, titles for operations: Phoenix, Rolling Thunder, Speedy Express, and Sunrise. In "The New Life Project," therefore, Coetzee allows history to provide the terms of its own allegorical diagnosis. [BACK]

6. I am grateful to David Bunn for the term ontological shock. [BACK]

7. In "Representing the Colonized" Edward Said notes the explicitly congruent interests of traditional anthropology and the U.S. Department of Defense. Similarly, Coetzee mentions Franz Boas as part of the mythographer's heritage. [BACK]

8. Coetzee uses the term mythographic in reference to white nationalist history in "Man's Fate in the Novels of Alex La Guma," published in the same year as Dusklands. [BACK]

9. This essay was subsequently reproduced in N. A. Coetzee's compendious (six-hundred-page) volume of Coetzee genealogy, Die Stamouers Coetzee en Nageslagte, published to commemorate the Coetzee family's three hundred years in South Africa. I am grateful to Catherine Glenn-Lauga for showing me this volume and for alerting me to Bouvard et Pécuchet. [BACK]

10. In these descriptions of frontier terror, J. M. Coetzee is simply describing what was, indeed, a policy of genocide. I have not found any descriptions of procedure, as it were, of which Coetzee's version might be a parodic copy, but in Moodie's Record there are any number of reports of raids on camps, with numbers shot (usually men) or captured (usually women and children). In his journal of 1809 Colonel Collins reports meeting with one commando leader who could account for 3,200 dead, and another for 2,700 (Moodie, part 5 [1808-19], p. 7). Coetzee's version, it must be said, refuses the palliative of third-person objectification offered by statistics such as these; instead, he provides us with the implicated subject (see note 2). [BACK]

11. Magda's condition would also exemplify what Jameson (following Lacan) calls "schizophrenia," the breakdown of the signifying chain, with the effect that a unified personal identity, connecting past, present, and future, cannot be constructed from broken units of discourse ("Postmodernism" 72). [BACK]

12. Josephine Dodd explores themes of entrapment and escape with particular reference to gender in her discussion of In the Heart of the Country. [BACK]

13. The schoolmistress, a "daughter of an impoverished clergyman, sent out to earn a living," who "ran away with a passing Englishman and was never heard of again" (45-46), would seem to be an allusion to both Schreiner and her fictional hero Lyndall in The Story of an African Farm. Teresa Dovey explores a range of further intertextual connections between the two novels in the second chapter of The Novels of J. M. Coetzee. [BACK]

Three— Reading the Signs of History: Waiting for the Barbarians

1. See Michael Vaughan: "In terms of formal organization, [ Barbarians ] has much less to discomfort the liberal reader than the earlier novels. The protagonist, too, appears to be much closer to the protagonists of liberal fiction, although he is certainly not identical to them. Is Coetzee moving towards a greater sympathy with liberal perspectives?" (125-26). Richard Martin argues a similar case at greater length. I believe Martin is in error, and for the most part I leave it to the reader to decide on the extent to which my reading provides an adequate reply. However, two mistakes in Martin's reading need to be addressed. First, he harnesses Robbe-Grillet in support of the argument that Barbarians is "a sort of existential tragedy in which the significance of objects and events is their lack of significance" (15). This use of Robbe-Grillet against Coetzee ignores Coetzee's own assimilation of the nouveau roman and his deployment of some of its conventions in the previous novel, Heart of the Country. The development from the earlier novel to this one involves, broadly speaking, a shift of emphasis from the ontological to the discursive. Second, it must be said that treating Coetzee as uncritical of naturalized language and Gordimer as an archproponent of narrative experimentation is an eccentric position, considering how these writers are usually contrasted. (I make the observation while recognizing that a sharp polarization can also be misleading.) [BACK]

2. In "The Presence of Absence" Lance Olsen gives a Derridean reading of Barbarians, arguing that it "places civilization, authority, humanism and truth under erasure by disclosing the zero that beats at their centres" (47). I agree to an extent with Olsen's reading, but like both Barbara Eckstein and Susan Van Zanten Gallagher, who also begin by agreeing with Olsen, I do not believe that this "disclosure" necessarily diminishes the historical and ethical power of the work. In Olsen's hands a deconstructive reading removes the novel from notions of "responsibility''; by contrast, Eckstein and Gallagher, though working independently and with different theoretical and political premises, have written analyses of Barbarians that illuminate the relations between language, the body, torture and the state. [BACK]

3. "The Agentless Sentence as Rhetorical Device" (1980), "The Rhetoric of the Passive in English" (1980), and "Newton and the Ideal of a Transparent Scientific Language" (1982). [BACK]

4. See also Peter Skalnik, "Tribe as Colonial Category," especially p. 70. Jean-Phillipe Wade points out that similar forms of binarism (Europe-Africa, black-white, colonizer-colonized, settler-indigenous) were evident in the language of the Black Consciousness movement, which dominated resistance organizations in the late 1970s (287). In the present context, this similarity should not be taken to suggest that Black Consciousness was simply a mirror image of the language of the state: it had its own sources, notably Frantz Fanon and some of the writings of African Americans such as Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X, but Black Consciousness did contribute to the climate of Manichaeanism which was characteristic of the period and to which the novel clearly responds. [BACK]

5. Paul Rich's discussion of the "decline of civilization" in Barbarians and July's People touches on similar ground, although Rich chooses not to see Coetzee's novel as parodic. [BACK]

6. Both Teresa Dovey ("Allegory vs. Allegory") and Wade ("The Allegorical Text and History") have provided interesting discussions of some of the allegorizing tendencies in Barbarians by relating them to Walter Benjamin's Origin of German Tragic Drama, especially the famous dictum "Allegories are, in the realm of thoughts, what ruins are, in the realm of things.'' Although both arguments stress indeterminacy, the point I wish to emphasize is that the novel continually frustrates the allegorizing impulse, disallowing even inconclusive or qualified meanings to emerge. For Wade, the novel's allegorizing is about historical catastrophe and systemic crisis in South Africa; for Dovey, it dispenses lessons about textuality. Both readings are valid to a point, but against them I argue that inconclusive allegorical markers are given in the novel principally in order to present the Magistrate as being unable to transform them into the stable signifiers of historical discourse. [BACK]

7. I am grateful to Nicholas Visser for this point. [BACK]

8. In "Into the Dark Chamber" Coetzee writes about the moral problem of fictionalizing torture without reproducing the original relations of torturer to victim. [BACK]

9. René Girard's theory of mimetic desire is also applicable to the Magistrate's actions regarding the girl. The Magistrate imitates the desire of Joll, expressed in torture. The point is worth making because Coetzee applies Girardian thinking in an analysis of the "triangular structure of desire" in advertising, in an essay published in 1980 (the same year as Barbarians ). However, the theory can offer only a partial description of the relationship; the Magistrate's awakening to the fact that his desire is diabolically complicit with Joll's suggests that we should examine his actions in other ways as well. [BACK]

10. Teresa Dovey's analysis of Barbarians examines the novel as a parody showing the limits of liberal novelistic discourse, especially its unwillingness to recognize its constitution within language ( Novels of J. M. Coetzee, chap. 4). [BACK]

Four— Writing in "the cauldron of history": Life and Times of Michael K and Foe

1. Future projection in contemporary South African fiction goes back at least as far as Karel Schoeman's Na Die Geliefde Land (later translated as Promised

Land ), first published in 1972. However, in the 1980s the trend culminated in Mongane Serote's To Every Birth Its Blood (1981), Gordimer's July's People (1981) and A Sport of Nature (1987), and, of course, Michael K. Several critics have attended to the anticipation of revolution in contemporary South African fiction, on the basis of a selection of these novels. See Bernth Lindfors, "Coming to Terms"; Margaret Lenta, "Fictions of the Future"; Sheila Roberts, "Questionable Future"; Stephen Clingman, "Revolution and Reality''; Nicholas Visser, "Beyond the Interregnum." [BACK]

2. One might apply to this opposition the notion of the "exaggerated Oedipus" with which Deleuze and Guattari describe Kafka's politics (see note 5). The exaggerated Oedipus represents a broadly political application of the Freudian family romance. [BACK]

3. Michael Marais, in "Languages of Power," offers an insightful and more complete analysis of this pattern. It is worth noting that the metaphor of parasitism represents a considerable extension of Coetzee's earlier figure of unequal power relations, the Hegelian master-slave dialectic. [BACK]

4. See Marjanne F. Goozé, "Texts, Textuality, and Silence." Dovey's commentary on the allusions to Kafka is illuminating ( Novels of J. M. Coetzee 298-304). I share with her an interest in Coetzee's concern with the fate of narration itself, as this concern is defined in relation to the implicitly self-referential aspect of works such as The Castle and "The Hunger Artist." In Dovey's argument, this is a step toward the larger allegory of the unrepresentable status of unconscious desire; I choose to keep within the more limited focus of the survival of the subject of enunciation within a discursively policed culture. [BACK]

5. Coetzee cannot be taken to exemplify all the features of "minor literature" as defined by Deleuze and Guattari. Although Coetzee does "deterritorialize" the colonial language in sometimes dramatic ways (as in Barbarians ), and although his fiction is political in the sense that it takes stock of its historical location, he does not represent a "collective" form of enunciation, as Kafka does in this description (Deleuze and Guattari 16-27). [BACK]

6. See the description in "Richard Steele's Narrative of Selkirk" (reprinted in Rogers 162). [BACK]

7. An adequate survey of this vast tradition is impossible here. Martin Green notes that by 1895 there had been 115 revisions, 277 imitations (the Robin-sonades), 110 translations, and 196 English editions (92). I am relying on Catherine Glenn-Lauga's discussion of Foe in relation to the French tradition, which Coetzee seems to know (J. Giraudoux precedes Coetzee in having a female protagonist, called Suzanne, enter the story). Glenn-Lauga's analysis encompasses Giraudoux, Suzanne et la Pacifique; Saint-John Perse, Images à Crusoé; Michel Tournier, Vendredi ou les limbes du pacifique; Valéry, "Robinson" in Histoires brisées; and Jules Verne, L'île mystérieuse. [BACK]

8. Coetzee's concerns bear comparison with Spivak's remarks on the problem of representing subaltern consciousness in "Subaltern Studies" (202-7). Representation, Spivak argues, should be seen as the production of a "subaltern subject-effect" that is articulated through "politics, ideology, economics, history, sexuality, language, and so on." In "Theory in the Margin," however,

Spivak suggests that such work must also be regarded as centered, that is, as subject to the power to withhold on the part of the "wholly Other." Benita Parry challenges some of the excesses of colonial discourse analysis by arguing that the emphasis on the nonrepresentability of the subaltern could serve to reproduce cultural imperialism's silencing of the colonized ("Problems in Current Theories of Colonial Discourse"). Spivak replies to this objection by arguing that even well-intentioned representations of the Other are subject to Friday's power to withhold. [BACK]

Five— Conclusion: Age of Iron

1. Coetzee is referring to Francis Fukuyama, "The End of History?" [BACK]


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