7893785118319017050.jpg
This image has been sourced from online.
2746268190520183495.jpg
This image has been sourced from online.
y Waiting for the Barbarians single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 1980 1980
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Adaptations

Waiting for the Barbarians J. M. Coetzee , 2014 single work screenplay
— Appears in: Two Screenplays 2014;

Notes

  • Dedication:

    For

    Nicolas and Gisela

  • Editions and translations have been updated for Waiting for the Barbarians by Eilish Copelin as part of a Semester 2, 2013 scholar's internship.

    Given the international popularity of Coetzee's work, however, this record is not yet comprehensive. Due to the enormous breadth of critical material on Coetzee's work, indexing of secondary sources is also not complete.

  • Other formats: Also braille, sound recording, and e-book.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Secker and Warburg , 1980 .
      7893785118319017050.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 165p.
      Edition info: First ed.
      ISBN: 9780436102950, 0436102951
    • Johannesburg,
      c
      South Africa,
      c
      Southern Africa, Africa,
      :
      Ravan Press , 1981 .
      Extent: 156p.
      Edition info: First South African ed.
      ISBN: 0869751999, 9780869751992
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Penguin Books , 1982 .
      Extent: 156p.
      ISBN: 9780140061109, 014006110X
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Vintage , 1997 .
      Extent: 156p.
      ISBN: 074939420X, 9780749394202
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Vintage , 2000 .
      Extent: 169p.
      ISBN: 074939420, 9780749394202
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Vintage , 2004 .
      2746268190520183495.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 169p.
      ISBN: 0099465930, 9780099465935
Alternative title: En attendant les barbares : roman
Language: French
    • Paris,
      c
      France,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Editions du Seuil , 1987 .
      4090257134961232602.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 248p.
      Reprinted: 1991
      ISBN: 2020134039, 9782020134033
    • Paris,
      c
      France,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Points , 2000 .
      5888923141142529915.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 248p.
      ISBN: 2020404567, 9782020404563

Works about this Work

Power and the Subject in J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians Liani Lochner , 2016 single work
— Appears in: Ariel : A Review of International English Literature , October vol. 47 no. 4 2016; (p. 103-134)
'This essay draws on Judith Butler’s politically promising notion of a critical “desubjectivation” to examine the possibilities for agency and individual responsibility within the state of exception as staged in J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians. Even though he ostensibly occupies a position of power in Empire, the novel’s Magistrate-narrator finds himself subordinated by an objectionable law. This raises a question: If, as individuals, we achieve social identity only through subjection to the dominant discourse, then what possibilities are there for opposing the workings of power? Moreover, to what extent are our individual ethics conditioned by dominant schemes of value that cast certain lives as ungrievable? Although the Magistrate, unlike Colonel Joll, realizes his complicity with the torturers of the Third Bureau, he misrecognises his interpellation and does not see himself as the subject of a law that casts barbarian lives as unworthy of mourning. The novel thus functions as a literary model for resisting power’s normative horizons and inaugurating the ethical principles of a future democracy based on the recognition of a shared precariousness of life.' (Publication abstract)
Sven Hedin's “Vanished Country” : Setting and History in J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, Hermann Wittenberg , Kate Highman , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Scrutiny2 , vol. 20 no. 1 2015; (p. 103-127)
'Since J.M. Coetzee’s manuscripts, notebooks and miscellaneous other archival materials have become available for study at the Harry Ransom Centre (HRC) in Texas in 2013, it has become possible to shed new light on one of the more enigmatic aspects of Coetzee’s early fictions, namely the origins of the setting and landscape of Waiting for the barbarians. With his previous two novels, Dusklands (1974) and In the heart of the country (1977), Coetzee had established himself as a significant avant-garde South African writer, but the next novel, Barbarians (1980), on the face of it, seemed to veer off-course as an engagement with the historical trauma of his country. When the book was published, readers and critics found Coetzee’s choice of a richly detailed yet seemingly invented non-South African setting both attractive and puzzling. Irvin Howe wrote in the New York times that the novel’s landscape was an “unspecified place and time, yet recognizable as a ‘universalised’ version of South Africa”, and Bernard Levin, in an influential London Sunday times review, thought that the story appeared to indict the repressive South African political situation, “[b] ut that beneath the surface it is timeless, spaceless, nameless and universal” (1980: n.p.). A reviewer in Newsweek thought that Coetzee’s “terrain is African” but that “subtle dislocations in time and geography, however, make it clear that his political parable is set in a mythical realm” (Clemons 1980: 55). Peter Lewis (1980: 1270) also recognized allusions to South Africa, but concluded that “the place cannot be located on any map”. In many critical responses there was a tension between a desire to read the novel as a South African narrative, and a simultaneous recognition of the story’s non-specific emplacement which transcended the political oppression of late apartheid. It was precisely the text’s sense of geographical and historical dislocatedness that made it a compelling reading experience, as for example articulated by Peter Wilhelm: “The strange landscapes, part-African, part a country of the mind; the sense of action and thought scarcely disturbing the flux of time; the crystalline lucidity of the language – these will haunt the reader long after the novel has been set aside” (cited in Kannemeyer 2012: 345). ' (Author's introduction)
Acts Without Agents : The Language of Torture in J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians Kelly Adams , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Ariel , July vol. 46 no. 3 2015;
'This article draws from J. M. Coetzee’s linguistic work on the passive sentence to analyze his representation of torture in the novel Waiting for the Barbarians. It argues that Coetzee’s complex use of the short passive (also known as the “agentless sentence”) counters the transparent connection between truth and language by creating critical gaps in the narrative that disrupt the process of interpretation. Given how “truth” is perceived as having a certain “tone” by the torturer Colonel Joll in the novel, the question of how truth is represented in language becomes critical to undermining the logic of torture Joll explicates. Throughout the novel, Coetzee exploits the ambiguity created by the short passive to not only illustrate the grammatical fictions that undergird our assumptions while reading the text, but also to challenge the linguistic certainties of “truth” to which the torture chamber owes its existence.' (Publication abstract)
Teaching Coetzee’s Subject : Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace Stephen Clingman , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Approaches to Teaching Coetzee's Disgrace and Other Works 2014; (p. 59-66)
Open to Interpretation : Politics and Allegory in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians Robert Spencer , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Approaches to Teaching Coetzee's Disgrace and Other Works 2014; (p. 146-151)
Hunting Animals in JM Coetzee's Dusklands and Waiting for the Barbarians Paul Williams , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Social Alternatives , vol. 32 no. 4 2013; (p. 15-20)

‘J.M. Coetzee’s early novels Dusklands (1974) and Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) outline the Western imperialist project to colonise and subjugate ‘other’ people, animals and the environment. The masculine colonising subject (in Cartesian terms, res inextensa) has separated itself from the world (res extensa) and seeks to conquer and subjugate in order to subsume it. Dusklands comprises two narratives: one, that of Jacobus Coetzee who hunts human and nonhuman animals and leaves a destructive trail behind him as he blazes a frontier in 1800s South Africa; and two, Eugene Dawn, an American mythographer, who advocates his ‘Vietnam Project’ to win the US war in Vietnam in the early 1970s by defoliating the environment and hunting the Vietcong ‘like animals’. In Waiting for the Barbarians, Colonel Joll deals with the Barbarian ‘threat’ to his Empire by similarly destroying the environment, hunting barbarians, and torturing woman and children. Each character is locked into a Cartesian ‘self’ consciousness that cannot interact with the ‘other’ (female, nonhuman animal, ‘indigenous’) except through violence and destruction. Hunting is a manifestation of this disease and the protagonists make no distinction between human, animal or vegetable in their path of destruction in the name of colonial expansion.' (Publication abstract)

The Gate Deferred : J.M. Coetzee and the Battle Against Doubt Scott Esposito , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 73 no. 3 2013; (p. 90-111)
'Esposito writes of Coetzee's characters (it is not Elizabeth Costello alone) in effect morally naked at the Gate, awaiting admission after - or so they think - the passing of a last judgement, but what is it that is expected of them, and what is this a gate to? (David Brooks, 'Editorial' p. 6)
Hunting Animals in JM Coetzee's Dusklands and Waiting for the Barbarians Paul Williams , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Social Alternatives , vol. 32 no. 4 2013; (p. 15-20)

‘J.M. Coetzee’s early novels Dusklands (1974) and Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) outline the Western imperialist project to colonise and subjugate ‘other’ people, animals and the environment. The masculine colonising subject (in Cartesian terms, res inextensa) has separated itself from the world (res extensa) and seeks to conquer and subjugate in order to subsume it. Dusklands comprises two narratives: one, that of Jacobus Coetzee who hunts human and nonhuman animals and leaves a destructive trail behind him as he blazes a frontier in 1800s South Africa; and two, Eugene Dawn, an American mythographer, who advocates his ‘Vietnam Project’ to win the US war in Vietnam in the early 1970s by defoliating the environment and hunting the Vietcong ‘like animals’. In Waiting for the Barbarians, Colonel Joll deals with the Barbarian ‘threat’ to his Empire by similarly destroying the environment, hunting barbarians, and torturing woman and children. Each character is locked into a Cartesian ‘self’ consciousness that cannot interact with the ‘other’ (female, nonhuman animal, ‘indigenous’) except through violence and destruction. Hunting is a manifestation of this disease and the protagonists make no distinction between human, animal or vegetable in their path of destruction in the name of colonial expansion.' (Publication abstract)

The Gate Deferred : J.M. Coetzee and the Battle Against Doubt Scott Esposito , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 73 no. 3 2013; (p. 90-111)
'Esposito writes of Coetzee's characters (it is not Elizabeth Costello alone) in effect morally naked at the Gate, awaiting admission after - or so they think - the passing of a last judgement, but what is it that is expected of them, and what is this a gate to? (David Brooks, 'Editorial' p. 6)
Teaching Coetzee’s Subject : Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace Stephen Clingman , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Approaches to Teaching Coetzee's Disgrace and Other Works 2014; (p. 59-66)
Open to Interpretation : Politics and Allegory in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians Robert Spencer , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Approaches to Teaching Coetzee's Disgrace and Other Works 2014; (p. 146-151)
Sven Hedin's “Vanished Country” : Setting and History in J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, Hermann Wittenberg , Kate Highman , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Scrutiny2 , vol. 20 no. 1 2015; (p. 103-127)
'Since J.M. Coetzee’s manuscripts, notebooks and miscellaneous other archival materials have become available for study at the Harry Ransom Centre (HRC) in Texas in 2013, it has become possible to shed new light on one of the more enigmatic aspects of Coetzee’s early fictions, namely the origins of the setting and landscape of Waiting for the barbarians. With his previous two novels, Dusklands (1974) and In the heart of the country (1977), Coetzee had established himself as a significant avant-garde South African writer, but the next novel, Barbarians (1980), on the face of it, seemed to veer off-course as an engagement with the historical trauma of his country. When the book was published, readers and critics found Coetzee’s choice of a richly detailed yet seemingly invented non-South African setting both attractive and puzzling. Irvin Howe wrote in the New York times that the novel’s landscape was an “unspecified place and time, yet recognizable as a ‘universalised’ version of South Africa”, and Bernard Levin, in an influential London Sunday times review, thought that the story appeared to indict the repressive South African political situation, “[b] ut that beneath the surface it is timeless, spaceless, nameless and universal” (1980: n.p.). A reviewer in Newsweek thought that Coetzee’s “terrain is African” but that “subtle dislocations in time and geography, however, make it clear that his political parable is set in a mythical realm” (Clemons 1980: 55). Peter Lewis (1980: 1270) also recognized allusions to South Africa, but concluded that “the place cannot be located on any map”. In many critical responses there was a tension between a desire to read the novel as a South African narrative, and a simultaneous recognition of the story’s non-specific emplacement which transcended the political oppression of late apartheid. It was precisely the text’s sense of geographical and historical dislocatedness that made it a compelling reading experience, as for example articulated by Peter Wilhelm: “The strange landscapes, part-African, part a country of the mind; the sense of action and thought scarcely disturbing the flux of time; the crystalline lucidity of the language – these will haunt the reader long after the novel has been set aside” (cited in Kannemeyer 2012: 345). ' (Author's introduction)
Acts Without Agents : The Language of Torture in J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians Kelly Adams , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Ariel , July vol. 46 no. 3 2015;
'This article draws from J. M. Coetzee’s linguistic work on the passive sentence to analyze his representation of torture in the novel Waiting for the Barbarians. It argues that Coetzee’s complex use of the short passive (also known as the “agentless sentence”) counters the transparent connection between truth and language by creating critical gaps in the narrative that disrupt the process of interpretation. Given how “truth” is perceived as having a certain “tone” by the torturer Colonel Joll in the novel, the question of how truth is represented in language becomes critical to undermining the logic of torture Joll explicates. Throughout the novel, Coetzee exploits the ambiguity created by the short passive to not only illustrate the grammatical fictions that undergird our assumptions while reading the text, but also to challenge the linguistic certainties of “truth” to which the torture chamber owes its existence.' (Publication abstract)
Power and the Subject in J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians Liani Lochner , 2016 single work
— Appears in: Ariel : A Review of International English Literature , October vol. 47 no. 4 2016; (p. 103-134)
'This essay draws on Judith Butler’s politically promising notion of a critical “desubjectivation” to examine the possibilities for agency and individual responsibility within the state of exception as staged in J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians. Even though he ostensibly occupies a position of power in Empire, the novel’s Magistrate-narrator finds himself subordinated by an objectionable law. This raises a question: If, as individuals, we achieve social identity only through subjection to the dominant discourse, then what possibilities are there for opposing the workings of power? Moreover, to what extent are our individual ethics conditioned by dominant schemes of value that cast certain lives as ungrievable? Although the Magistrate, unlike Colonel Joll, realizes his complicity with the torturers of the Third Bureau, he misrecognises his interpellation and does not see himself as the subject of a law that casts barbarian lives as unworthy of mourning. The novel thus functions as a literary model for resisting power’s normative horizons and inaugurating the ethical principles of a future democracy based on the recognition of a shared precariousness of life.' (Publication abstract)
Last amended 2 Dec 2014 09:57:48
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