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Travelling Texts: J.M. Coetzee and Other Writers


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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The Art of J.M. Coetzee and the Legacy of European Modernism: The Kafka Intertext in Elizabeth Costello


J.M. Coetzee’s art is deeply rooted in European intellectual tradition; it relies on European philosophical and literary models. However, in contemporary literary scholarship there is an ongoing debate concerning Coetzee’s affiliation to two twentieth-century European avant-garde literary movements – modernism and postmodernism. On the one hand, Coetzee is frequently referred to as a self-conscious postmodernist (Lowry 1999) and the first South African writer who created experimental novels using the achievements of European postmodernism (Head 2009: 23–24). On the other hand, the affinity of Coetzee’s work to the writings of Beckett and Kafka has led Derek Attridge to describe his art as “late modernism” or “neomodernism” (2004: 2–6).

This article aims to explore Coetzee’s modernist connections by concentrating on the analysis of Kafka borrowings in the novel Elizabeth Costello (2003); in particular, it seeks to demonstrate how Coetzee’s use of the Kafka intertext serves to highlight such complex issues as representation and reality, artistic imagination and authorial responsibility, literary tradition and innovation.

1. Introduction

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