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Type: Journal article
Title: An 'international author, but in a different sense': J.M. Coetzee and 'Literatures of the South'
Author: Samuelson, M.
Citation: Thesis Eleven: critical theory and historical sociology, 2021; 162(1):137-154
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Issue Date: 2021
ISSN: 0725-5136
Statement of
Meg Samuelson
Abstract: J.M. Coetzee has unquestionably achieved the status of ‘international author’ within dominant conceptions of world literature: his works circulate widely in both English and translation and have been legitimated by the principal arbitrators of the global cultural industry. He has, however, recently positioned himself as ‘an international author, but in a different sense’; that is, as a writer whose internationalism is achieved through his location in ‘the South’. This article considers how Coetzee’s narratives thematize being ‘international’ in this ‘different sense’. It focuses on the pivotal works of  Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life (2002) and the opening chapters of  Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons (2003) while tracking an orientation southward across his oeuvre in allusions to Joseph Conrad, Jorge Luis Borges and, in particular, Pablo Neruda as well as in Coetzee’s repeated turn to littoral settings. These settings open to what the article describes as the ‘blue southern hemisphere’, implicating narrative world-making in the geophysical properties and ‘troubled histories’ that constitute the South and recasting the act of writing from ‘the far edges’ into a planetary perspective that contends with the uncanny nature of settler societies in the southern temperate zone.
Keywords: J.M. Coetzee; Youth: Scenes from Provisional Life; Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons; the South; world literature; planetarity
Rights: Copyright © 2021 by Thesis Eleven Pty, Ltd., SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0725513621991003
Appears in Collections:English publications

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