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Issue Details: First known date: 2017... 2017 J. M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron and the Poetics of Resistance
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'Since the beginning of his career, J. M. Coetzee’s writing has occupied an uneasy threshold between the literary ideals of European modernism, with its emphasis on aesthetic autonomy, and the demands of socio-historical accountability that derives from his background as a South African novelist. This article revisits one of Coetzee’s novels in which these tensions come to the fore most explicitly, namely Age of Iron, to argue that it is precisely from the generative friction that arises between these two opposing fields that his writing draws its singularly affective force. I begin by considering the agonistic relationship between transcendent ideals and socio-material demands that marks Coetzee’s account of the classic (“What is a Classic?: A Lecture”), describing it as a defining feature of his literary sensibility. The article then moves on to a reading of Age of Iron that focuses on the protagonist Mrs Curren’s efforts, in the midst of the violent political struggle in apartheid South Africa, to speak in her own voice. My thoughts conclude with the suggestion that Coetzee’s perennial staging of the conflict between a desire for autonomous expression and a socio-historical milieu that is indifferent to that desire can be read as an imaginative form of resistance, in the field of literary expression, to both the pressures of historical determinism and the dangers of postmodern insularity.' (Publication abstract)

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Last amended 21 Apr 2017 12:01:10
70-83 J. M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron and the Poetics of Resistancesmall AustLit logo The Journal of Commonwealth Literature
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    South Africa,
    Southern Africa, Africa,
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