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In announcing the selection of J. M. Coetzee as the Nobel Prize laureate in literature for 2003, the Swedish Academy wrote that Coetzee’s works follow a recurring pattern: an investigation into the ‘the downward spiralling journeys he considers necessary for the salvation of his characters.’ Though salvation is a strong motif in Coetzee’s novels, explicit connection with Christian salvation is avoided in virtually all of his novels, except for one, Age of Iron. Oddly, however, Age of Iron has been viewed from just about every lens but the Christian one. Susan VanZanten Gallagher and others have correctly noted that Mrs Curren, the novel’s central protagonist, serves as a human allegory for the plight of South Africa. VanZanten Gallagher’s analysis notes references to Virgil and ‘the unborn dead,’ Charon, Dante’s boatman at the river Styx, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and Tolstoy’s ‘What Men Live By.’ In a later work she includes Age of Iron in the category of South African confessional literature, but provides no analysis and discussion of how the work fits in the genre. Derek Attridge writes that the role of the ‘other’ in Coetzee’s work, particularly Age of Iron, is key to understanding the author’s writing. For Attridge the conjoined interaction of self and the ‘other’ lead to a recognition of perspective. Although he acknowledges that recognition of the ‘other’ in religious work is transcendent, Attridge does not seem to appreciate fully the role of Christian scripture in Age of Iron. Gilbert Yeoh focuses his attention on ‘love,’ with emphasis on such distinctions as ‘agape’ and ‘caritas’ to explore ironies. Acknowledging the Christian apparatus, however, Yeoh connects Mrs Curren’s ordeal to I Corinthians and ignores obvious allusions to the broader Biblical context. Yeoh appropriates the language of Christianity, but is not attentive to what I regard as the predominant Christian imagery contained in the novel. (Author's introduction)

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Last amended 28 Jan 2015 12:52:31