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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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Travelling Texts, Travelling Ideas. Janina Duszejko Meets Elizabeth Costello, or on Reading J.M. Coetzee in 21st Century Poland

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For essentially we live in spiritual and intellectual solitude; through a specific educational method or particular reading, chosen at random, each of us has achieved a particular personal orientation; each of us, behind an intellectual mask, thinks, feels and struggles differently from the others, and misunderstandings become so numerous and even in spacious houses life together becomes so difficult, and everywhere we are constrained, everywhere strangers, everywhere far from home. (Heine 2006: 92–93)     All cultures are involved in one another, none is single and pure, all are hybrid, heterogeneous, extraordinarily differentiated, and unmonolithic. (Said 1993: XXV)

1.

Since 2003 – the year when he was named the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature – J.M. Coetzee has been enjoying steadily growing popularity in the “country by the Vistula river.” Today, I should argue, his prominence can hardly be matched by any other winner of the prestigious distinction over the last several decades.1 Of course, this does not mean that, prior to the selection made by the Nobel Committee for Literature, the Polish cultural and academic scenes had not been familiar with (then) the South African writer. By that time, five of his novels had been translated and published in Poland2 which he visited for the first time in 2000 to attend an academic symposium held in Kraków; ← 63 | 64 → one cannot also overlook his interest and writing on Polish artists (writers and filmmakers such as Bruno Schulz,3 Zbigniew Herbert4 and Andrzej Munk5)...

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