J. M. Coetzee Long Fiction Analysis
Although contemporary South Africa is seldom mentioned or referred to explicitly in most of J. M. Coetzee’s novels, the land and the concerns of that country permeate his works. One may see this indirect approach as an evasion of the censorship that was a factor for any writer in that state during the years of apartheid, but this necessary blurring of temporal and geographic actualities also endows each work with universal overtones. On one level, Coetzee’s novels deal with the suffering that human beings inflict on one another, whether as agents of the state or as the victims of their own obsessions. Colonialism and its legacy form the basis for much of his fiction. Also permeating his work is the issue of the treatment of animals and the perception of difference in the rights of humans and the rights of animals, a perception that Coetzee often challenges.
Coetzee’s first major work, Dusklands, is composed of two novellas, The Vietnam Project and The Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee; the common thread that runs through the two seemingly unrelated pieces is the obsession of eachprotagonist with the personal dimension of colonization. Eugene Dawn, the narrator of The Vietnam Project, is a mythographer inquiring into the efficacy of American propaganda in Vietnam. His discoveries are disturbing and soul shattering to the point that Dawn is driven to kidnap his child from his estranged wife...
(The entire section is 4550 words.)
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