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Title: J. M. Coetzee: writing, morality and the wound of history
Author: Tegla, Emanuela
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2011
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The subject of the present PhD thesis consists in an analysis of the fictional treatment of moral concepts and realities in some novels by the contemporary South African writer J. M. Coetzee. The thesis as a whole may be regarded as grounded on the idea that literature bears significant relevance to the contemporary ethical discourse in general, and to an understanding of the postcolonial one in particular. The following analysis will therefore address the moral concepts as context-embedded and it will seek to discuss Coetzee's treatment of them in relation to a broad range of philosophical considerations. Within the framework of Coetzee scholarship, the question of morality has been rarely addressed in a consistent, detailed manner; the present study explores the distinctiveness of Coetzee's depiction of moral issues through a rigorous scrutiny of the individual consciousness of the main characters. Within each chapter, the twofold aim is to address the particularities of the narrative techniques used by the author (through theoretical discussions applied to the text and through close reading of relevant elements and aspects) and to understand the moral concepts depicted in each of the novels discussed: guilt and evil in Waiting for the Barbarians; love and shame in Age of Iron; humility in Life and Times of Michael K; and self-deception, disgrace, humiliation in Disgrace. Contrary to the frequent view that regards Coetzee as politically passive, evasive, uninvolved, the present thesis attempts to show that the specific ways in which Coetzee engages with history and with the social realities of his time and place betray a complexly nuanced perception of his historical context and an intense awareness of moral realities. The novels analysed below can be described as unsettling for the reader, due to their exploration of such themes as (the impossibility of) personal redemption, freedom, and social change. By a careful analysis of the interconnectedness between stylistic and thematic particularities, the thesis aims at disclosing the effectiveness of Coetzee's narrative strategies in engaging the reader morally and in inviting self-questioning and radical revisions of personal and social moral assumptions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available