Edited by Jane Poyner
A 2007 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title
“Poyner succinctly situates Coetzee in biographical, socio-cultural, and literary contexts, and her brief interview with him effectively dramatizes the challenges of trying to pin him down. The essays—a lively mix of work by such established Coetzee scholars as Derek Attridge and Lucy Graham and emerging scholars like Laura Wright—are noteworthy for their critical insights into Coetzee’s later fiction.”
In September 2003 the South African novelist J. M. Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, confirming his reputation as one of the most influential writers of our time. J. M. Coetzee and the Idea of the Public Intellectual addresses the contribution Coetzee has made to contemporary literature, not least for the contentious forays his work makes into South African political discourse and the field of postcolonial studies.
Taking the author's ethical writing as its theme, the volume is an important addition to understanding Coetzee's fiction and critical thinking. While taking stock of Coetzee's singular, modernist response to the apartheid and postapartheid situations in his early fiction, the volume is the first to engage at length with the later works, Disgrace, The Lives of Animals, and Elizabeth Costello.
J. M. Coetzee and the Idea of the Public Intellectual explores Coetzee's roles as a South African intellectual and a novelist; his stance on matters of allegory and his evasion of the apartheid censor; his tacit critique of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission; his performance of public lectures of his alter ego, Elizabeth Costello; and his explorations into ecofeminism and animal rights. The essays collected here, which include an interview with the Nobel Laureate, provide new vantages from which to consider Coetzee's writing.
Jane Poyner is a lecturer in English, specializing in postcolonial literature, in the school of English at the University of Exeter.
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