AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2018... 2018 Eurydice’s Curse : J. M. Coetzee and the Prospect of Death
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The prospect of death is one of J. M. Coetzee’s central and enduring concerns. As David Attwell observes in his biography, ‘The most trenchant of the purposes of Coetzee’s metafiction . . . is that it is a means whereby he challenges himself with sharply existential questions’. My claim in this essay is that Coetzee uses the act of writing existentially to orient himself and his readers to the prospect of death. I argue that Coetzee treats the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as a story about how to deal with the prospect of death. What seems to terrify the Coetzeean protagonist is the thought of the absolute solitariness of death. I call this the curse of Eurydice. Eurydice’s fate in the myth is to be left alone in the Underworld, dying for a second time after her impatient lover turns to gaze at her before they have safely reached the surface of the earth. To take Eurydice’s point of view in the story is to begin to glimpse the solitariness of death. One of the roles of women in Coetzee’s fiction, I suggest, is to mitigate the male character’s fear of this solitariness by conducting him to the threshold of death, but no further.'  (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Literary Studies Thematising Women in the Work of J. M. Coetzee vol. 33 no. 1 February 2018 12964671 2018 periodical issue

    'All but one of the essays in this special issue called ‘Thematising Women in the Work of J. M. Coetzee’ were first presented at the 'Reading Coetzee’s Women' conference convened by Prof. Sue Kossew and Dr Melinda Harvey at Monash University’s Prato Centre in Italy in September 2016. We gratefully acknowledge the support provided by the Faculty of Arts at Monash University that enabled the conference to take place. The topic of women in Coetzee’s writing is of ongoing interest and importance, and the essays in this special issue address it in different ways – although most, to some extent, ponder the intentions and effects of what Carrol Clarkson in her lead essay memorably dubs his narrative strategy of ‘womanizing’. One of the features of the conference was a translators’ panel where a number of Coetzee’s translators discussed their approaches to the challenges presented by his work, and this discussion is represented here by a standalone essay by Coetzee’s Italian translator, Franca Cavagnoli.' (Introduction)

Last amended 27 Feb 2018 08:30:11 Eurydice’s Curse : J. M. Coetzee and the Prospect of Deathsmall AustLit logo Australian Literary Studies
    Powered by Trove