n Literator : Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies - Liminality in J.M. Coetzee's later experimental texts : original research

Volume 36, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2279



Postcoloniality, which is essentially concerned with the transition and transgression of boundaries and borders, contextualises and defines liminality as an ephemeral concept that eludes pinning down. Liminality is continually involved in a dual process of evolving and subverting : dynamic in the sense of promoting the centre, but subversive in its destabilisation of the previous status quo. In the more recent novels by Coetzee (), themes that are especially acute in highlighting the subversive nature of liminality emerge repeatedly : the threshold, death, proliferation and imitation. The problem investigated is : how is the concept of liminality developed in these novels? An examination of these novels in terms of the above-mentioned themes and various conceptual and theoretical elements shows that Coetzee encourages the reader to assume a liminal status, not only as reader of the texts but also in relation to contemporary reality. It is concluded that Coetzee uses certain themes that promote liminality, often in a subversive and deconstructive manner, to inform the reader and, thus, influence him or her to effect change in the contemporary world.

Liminaliteit word as 'n efemere en ontwykende konsep gekontekstualiseer deur postkolonialisme, wat in wese te make het met die oorsteek en oorgang van grense. Liminaliteit is voortdurend betrokke in 'n tweeledige proses van ontwikkeling en ondermyning : dinamies in die sin van die bevordering van die sentrum, maar ondermynend in die destabilisering van die vorige status quo. In Coetzee se meer onlangse romans (), verskyn temas wat die subversiewe aard van liminaliteit skerp kan uitwys, voortdurend : die drumpel, die dood, vermeerdering en nabootsing. Die probleem wat ondersoek is, is : hoe word die konsep van liminaliteit in hierdie romans ontwikkel? Na 'n ondersoek van bogenoemde romans in terme van die voorgenoemde temas, is bevind dat Coetzee die leser aanmoedig om 'n liminale status aan te neem nie alleen as leser van die teks nie, maar ook in die leser se eietydse werklikheid. Die gevolgtrekking is dat Coetzee bepaalde temas gebruik om liminaliteit te bevorder, dikwels op 'n subversiewe en dekonstruktiewe wyse, om die leser in te lig, maar ook om hom of haar aan te moedig om self verandering in sy of haar eietydse wêreld te bewerkstellig.

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