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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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Remembering Beckett: J.M. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K

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In “Samuel Beckett in Cape Town: An Imaginary History” (published in Beckett Remembering, Remembering Beckett on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of Beckett’s birth) Coetzee imagines what might have happened had Beckett been offered the lectureship at the University of Cape Town in 1937, a job that he applied for but failed to obtain:2

Even if S. B. Beckett had been offered the lectureship, he would in all likelihood not have accepted, for his ambitions stretched in another direction. He wanted to be a writer, not a language teacher. […] he might indeed have found himself, in 1938, at the southern tip of Africa.     In that case, the outbreak of the war would have trapped this citizen of neutral Ireland seven thousand miles away from home. What might then have followed?     Conceivably, after years of easy colonial life, he might have found a return to war-ravaged Europe unappealing. Conceivably he might even by then have met and married a South African belle, and settled down and had children. (Coetzee 2006: 75)

Coetzee ponders what might have happened had Professor Beckett still been in residence at the University of Cape Town in 1957, when he enrolled at that institution as an undergraduate:

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