Du och jag men inte vi : om omöjliga möten och deras orsaker i J. M. Coetzees fiktion

Detta är en avhandling från Språk- och litteraturcentrum

Sammanfattning: This dissertation is a study of In the Heart of the Country (1977), Waiting for the Barbarians (1980), Age of Iron (1990), Disgrace (1999), Diary of a Bad Year (2007), and Summertime (2009) written by J. M. Coetzee. The aim of the dissertation is to analyze these works of fiction using four postcolonial aspects that function as consistent themes in the novels. The aspects are; the relationship between the Self and the Other, writing back, the unreliable language, and shame and guilt. The roles of the Self and the Other are intra- and interdependent, a relationship that is problematic and inescapable in Coetzee’s fiction. Writing back in Coetzee’s six novels is the activity of the white protagonists to account for and interpret their context, which is closely associated with another theme, the unreliable language. Language can be viewed, by both the Other and the Self, as contaminated since, in the name of colonization, the indigenous population of former colonies has be subjugated and oppressed using a particular language. To use a ”colonial” language is an ideological action, resulting in, at some level, failure. The main characters experience guilt, causing them to search for, to a lesser or higher degree of consciousness, penance in their actions towards the Other. Shame has devastating consequences resulting in a debasement of the Self. A thematic method is used in this study that also has a postcolonial theoretical background where Frantz Fanon’s theories play an important part – especially regarding the discussion of the colonized/Other. There are interesting parallels as well as contrasts between a conventional postcolonial view and that indicated in Coetzee’s fiction. Coetzee is also placed in a South African context. He is, however, reluctant to accept the role as commentator of past and current political affairs and has often chosen a less direct approach in his fiction. In the six novels, there is a dissociation between the Self and the reader, and also a distinct distance between the Self and the Other. The conventional power positions in Waiting for the Barbarians and In the Heart of the Country undergo a change in Age of Iron and Disgrace which focus on the struggle of the Other and the inevitable, violent fight for freedom. This violence is described in Diary of a Bad Year as well, corresponding to Fanon’s theories. A contrasting comment can be found in Summertime where acts of violence, regardless of their causes, are regarded as something that only prolongs the circle of violence. There are rather a series of collisions than mutual encounters between the Self and the Other in Coetzee’s fiction.

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