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"Father to my story": writing Foe, de-authorizing (De)Foe

15 Nov 2005-Iss: 18, pp 7-24

AbstractFoe is probably not J.M. Coetzee's best known novel, although it is a text of great importance because of the way in which its political, literary and theoretical values are interrelated. The novel addresses a foundational myth of Western societies in the figure of Robinson Crusoe, and draws attention to its textual quality. This concern with the process of representation and the narrative quality of our beliefs is also manifested throughout the novel in other issues. Thus, in the text there is a whole panoply of reflections about the central issues affecting the very mechanics of constructing a text, such as, for example, the proper way a story should be written, the relationship between representation and its referent in the real, the problem of realism, or the question of authorship. more

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Abstract: Foe (1986) is one of the most ambiguous and controversial novels written by J.M. Coetzee, and has been discussed extensively by criticism from a great variety of theoretical positions. This essay p...

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01 Oct 2003
Abstract: Some of the most radical criticism coming out of the West today is the result of an interested desire to conserve the subject of the West, or the West as Subject. The theory of pluralized ‘subject-effects’ gives an illusion of undermining subjective sovereignty while often providing a cover for this subject of knowledge. Although the history of Europe as Subject is narrativized by the law, political economy, and ideology of the West, this concealed Subject pretends it has ‘no geo-political determinations.’ The much publicized critique of the sovereign subject thus actually inaugurates a Subject. . . . This S/subject, curiously sewn together into a transparency by denega­ tions, belongs to the exploiters’ side of the international division of labor. It is impossible for contemporary French intellectuals to imagine the kind of Power and Desire that would inhabit the unnamed subject of the Other of Europe. It is not only that everything they read, critical or uncritical, is caught within the debate of the production of that Other, supporting or critiquing the constitution of the Subject as Europe. It is also that, in the constitution of that Other of Europe, great care was taken to obliterate the textual ingredients with which such a subject could cathect, could occupy (invest?) its itinerary not only by ideological and scientific production, but also by the institution of the law. ... In the face of the possibility that the intellectual is complicit in the persistent constitution of Other as the Self’s shadow, a possibility of political practice for the intel­ lectual would be to put the economic ‘under erasure,’ to see the economic factor as irreducible as it reinscribes the social text, even as it is erased, however imperfectly, when it claims to be the final determinant or the tran­ scendental signified. The clearest available example of such epistemic violence is the remotely orchestrated, far-flung, and heterogeneous project to constitute the colonial

5,084 citations

01 Jan 1989
Abstract: General editor's preface. Acknowledgements. 1. Representing the postmodern: What is postmodernism? Representation and its politics, Whose postmodernism? Postmodernity, postmodernism, and modernism. 2. Postmodernist representation: De-naturalizing the natural, Photographic discourse, Telling Stories: fiction and history. 3. Re-presenting the past: 'Total history' de-totalized, Knowing the past in the present, The archive as text. 4. The politics of parody: Parodic postmodern representation, Double-coded politics, Postmodern film? 5. Text/image border tensions: The paradoxes of photography, The ideological arena of photo-graphy, The politics of address 6. Postmodernism and feminisms: Politicizing desire, Feminist postmodernist parody, The private and the public. Concluding note: some directed reading. Bibliography. Index.

1,142 citations

01 Jan 1939
TL;DR: When alcohol is taken into the system, an extra amount of work is thrown on various organs, particularly the lungs, and this is why so many inebriates suffer from a peculiar form of consumption called alcoholic phthisis many, many cases of which are to be found in hospitals, where the unhappy victims await the slow but sure march of an early death.
Abstract: A wildly comic send-up of Irish literature and culture, At Swim-Two-Birds is the story of a young, lazy, and frequently drunk Irish college student who lives with his curmudgeonly uncle in Dublin. When not in bed (where he seems to spend most of his time) or reading he is composing a mischief-filled novel about Dermot Trellis, a second-rate author whose characters ultimately rebel against him and seek vengeance. From drugging him as he sleeps to dropping the ceiling on his head, these figures of Irish myth make Trellis pay dearly for his bad writing. Hilariously funny and inventive, At Swim-Two-Birds has influenced generations of writers, opening up new possibilities for what can be done in fiction. It is a true masterpiece of Irish literature.

130 citations

01 Jan 1992
Abstract: Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Structuralism and Italo Calvino's A Sign in Space 2. Critique of Representation and J.M. Coetzee's Foe 3. Critique of Subjectivity and Michel Tournier's Friday Part I: The Subject as Construct Part II: The Subject and Power 4. From Work to Text to Intertextuality: Robinson Crusoe, Foe, Friday 5. Counter-Memory and Historiographic Metafiction: Christa Wolf's Cassandra, Timothy Findley's Famous Last Words, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children 6. Resisting Closure and Toni Morrison's Beloved Notes Works Cited Index

121 citations