1887

n Journal of Literary Studies - Is the writer ethical? : the early novels of J.M. Coetzee up to

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Abstract

The article claims that the investigation of the ethical dimension of literary writing has thus far wrongfully omitted to ask questions about the ethical intentions of the literary agent. It argues that this question can be put by asking, "Is this, i.e. the specific act of writing, an ethical act?" Drawing on some analytical philosophy of action and on Bakhtin, the article maintains that this question can be asked without reviving the intentional fallacy and without reverting to foundationalist ethics. These arguments are demonstrated by investigating the possible ethicality of acts of writing in the first six novels of J.M. Coetzee. Agential self-awareness is interpreted as the agent's awareness of his writing being an action, and various examples are quoted to show that the agent of these acts of writing takes responsibility for the fact of his action. Writing seems to respond to ethically compromising aspects of the act of literary production. The refusal to write about death as if it can be an object of literary construction in novels written during the apartheid era and States of Emergency in South Africa serves as example.

Volgens die artikel het die ondersoek na die etiese dimensie van literatuur tot dusver nagelaat om 'n belangrike vraag te vra, naamlik die vraag na die etiese bedoelinge van die skrywer. Hierdie vraag kan, aldus die artikel, gestel word in die vorm van die vraag, "Is dit (naamlik hierdie spesifieke literêre handeling) 'n etiese handeling?" Met behulp van die analitiese filosofie van handeling en van Bakhtin word aangevoer dat hierdie vraag gestel kan word sonder om die "intentional fallacy" te laat herleef en ook sonder om in fundamentalistiese etiek te verval. Die argument word toegelig deur 'n ondersoek na die moontlike etiese gehalte van die eerste ses romans van J.M. Coetzee. Die skrywende agent vertoon 'n sterk selfbewustheid en dit word geïnterpreteer as die agent se bewustheid van sy eie skryfwerk as handeling. Dat hierdie agent verantwoordelikheid aanvaar vir sy skryfhandeling word aangevoer na aanleiding van verskeie voorbeelde uit die romans. Dit lyk asof die skryfhandeling reageer op aspekte van die handeling of daad van literêre produksie wat eties kompromitterend is. Een voorbeeld hiervan is die weiering om oor die dood te skryf asof dit 'n objek van literêre konstruksie kan wees - 'n weiering wat, veelseggend genoeg, nagegaan kan word in romans wat gedurende die apartheidsera en noodtoestande in Suid-Afrika geskryf is.

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/content/litstud/20/1_2/EJC62368
2004-06-01
2016-12-07
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