Universitatea „Lucian Blaga”» de Sibiu, Facultatea de Litere și Arte
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5-6 / 2018
Barbarism and Civilization in J. M. Coetzee’s Novels
Always preoccupied with his native country’s problems concerning interracial conflicts and eager to evaluate within his novels the complex relationship between the dominant and the peripheral elements (be they cultural or not), J. M. Coetzee implicitly puts into question the image of barbarism and civilization in the contemporary world. Elaborated as an exquisite allegory in the novel Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) or rather directly stressing upon the brutal reality of the South African post-apartheid era, like we witness in Disgrace (1999), Coetzee’s writings impress the reader and at the same time appeal to their cultural memory. Because, apart from the general preoccupation with some (often) controversial aspects, the above mentioned novels, as well as In the Heart of the Country or Dusklands, express the influence of William Faulkner or Franz Kafka on Coetzee’s work. His entire creation proves to be an intricate labyrinth offering to the reader, among other things, the revelation of great art’s endurance and importance.
Keywords: allegory, South African reality, brutality, contemporary civilization, literary influence.