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n Journal of Literary Studies - Materiality and the madness of reading : J.M. Coetzee's as post-apartheid text

 

Abstract

Unlike the "situational metafiction" (Attwell 1993: 20) of J.M. Coetzee's earlier novels, whose imbrication in the political matrix of the late-apartheid State has become a matter of critical orthodoxy, <I>Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons&lt;/I&gt; (2003) rejects a South African emplacement for its writer-protagonist and hereby seems to suspend questions relating to the positioning of this work within post-apartheid literary culture. Coetzee's privileging of the transcultural, or formal aesthetic, dimensions of the work ratifies the normative exclusion of the historical masternarrative in the name of universalism (Butler 2000). Yet, for all that it defensively forecloses the possibility of "post-apartheid South Africa" being taken as its referent, I claim, "Lesson 8: At the Gate", of <I>Elizabeth Costello&lt;/I&gt; contains a persistent interrogation of the relations between representation and material embodiment that draws the text back - despite itself - into the semiotic matrix of South African literary culture, here to intersect the working through of these relations in extraliterary form before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The <I>survie</I>/survival of the material body before a tribunal oriented towards "confession" (Coetzee 2003: 211) presents an opportunity for the haunted and displaced analogy with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that my paper pursues.

Anders as die "situasiemetafiksie" (Attwell 1993: 20) van J.M. Coetzee se vroeëre romans, wat in die politieke matriks van die laatapartheidstaat ingebed was en gevolglik 'n saak van kritiese ortodoksie geword het, verwerp <I>Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons&lt;/I&gt; (2003) vir sy skrywerhoofkarakter 'n Suid-Afrikaanse inplasing, en steek hy daarmee blykbaar 'n stokkie voor alle vrae ten opsigte van die posisionering van die werk in 'n postapartheid literêre kultuur. Coetzee se fokus op die transkulturele of formeel-estetiese dimensies van die werk bekragtig die normatiewe uitsluiting van die historiese meestervertelling in die naam van universalisme (Butler 2000). Tog, hoewel hy defensief verhinder dat "postapartheid- Suid-Afrika" as sy verwysing gebruik word, bevat "Lesson 8: At the Gate" van <I>Elizabeth Costello&lt;/I&gt; 'n volgehoue ondersoek na die verhoudinge tussen verteenwoordiging en materiële beliggaming, wat die teks ondanks homself terugsuig in die semiotiese matriks van die Suid-Afrikaanse literêre kultuur, waar dit die deurtasting van hierdie verhoudinge in ekstraliterêre vorm voor die Waarheids-en- Versoeningskommissie (WVK) ondervang. Die <I>survie</I>/oorlewing van die materiële liggaam voor 'n tribunaal wat op "bekentenis" ingestel is (Coetzee 2003: 211) bied 'n geleentheid vir die misplaaste analogie met die Waarheids-en-Versoeningskommissie wat ek in my opstel ondersoek.

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/content/litstud/21/3_4/EJC62398
2005-12-01
2016-12-07
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