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Travelling Texts: J.M. Coetzee and Other Writers

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Robert Kusek and Bozena Kucala

Travelling Texts: J.M. Coetzee and Other Writers is a collection of essays on mutual influences and inspirations between authors, with a special focus on J.M. Coetzee. Bringing together a group of international scholars, the book offers a wide range of perspectives on how canonical and less canonical texts travel between literatures and cultures. Chapter One is devoted to connections between Coetzee’s writings and Polish literature and theatre. Chapter Two is concerned with Dostoevsky’s presence in his fiction. The essays in Chapter Three identify and analyse connections and inspirations between Coetzee and other European writers, with a special focus on Central Europe as a distinct cultural entity. The collection’s scope is extended by the essays in Chapter Four, which deal with several writers for whom Africa has been a source of inspiration.
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Putting It Bluntly: Elizabeth Costello in Krzysztof Warlikowski’s (A)pollonia

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The novels of J.M. Coetzee have been a strong and continued presence in the theatre of Krzysztof Warlikowski since the premiere of (A)pollonia in 2009. In each of the subsequent performances put on in Warsaw by the recently established Nowy Teatr (New Theatre)2 – The End (2010), African Tales by Shakespeare (2011) and Kabaret Warszawski (2013) – Warlikowski has used extensive passages from Life & Times of Michael K (1983), Age of Iron (1990), Elizabeth Costello (2003), Slow Man (2005) and Diary of a Bad Year (2007). Although in all of those performances Coetzee’s novels feature alongside other, more prominent texts, their significance extends far beyond that of a mere addition or literary quotation. Whereas the Polish director’s fascination with Coetzee is a well-known and oft-cited fact, the function of his works in Warlikowski’s performances remains critically unexplored. The aim of this essay is to comment on the use of two monologues of Elizabeth Costello in (A)pollonia. Following a brief introduction to the structure of the performance and a discussion of the context in which the speeches are embedded, I will attempt to relate Costello’s monologues to (A)pollonia’s central themes of sacrifice, killing and the value of human and animal life. A brief examination of the performance’s strategies of dialogisation and of direct address will be followed by an attempt to indicate which qualities of Coetzee’s writing have been particularly relevant to Warlikowski’s theatrical project.

After a highly successful nine-year stint at Warsaw’s...

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