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Issue Details: First known date: 2018... 2018 Coetzee and Wicomb : Writers Giving an Account of Themselves in Age of Iron and October
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'J. M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron and Zoë Wicomb’s October feature female writers who are also academics giving an account of themselves through an autobiographical project engaging the genres, respectively, of the epistle and the memoir. While the aim is, ostensibly, to reach an understanding of the historically situated self – Mrs Curren in state-of-emergency apartheid South Africa and Mercia Murray in a conflicted family history – each narrative is punctuated with moments of profound self-questioning with answers, if any are attempted, formulated only as conditional and deferred. This article argues that Mrs Curren’s and Mercia’s ‘incoherencies’, what Judith Butler in Giving an Account of Oneself calls ‘moments of interruption, stoppage, open-endedness . . . enigmatic articulations that cannot easily be translated into narrative form’ signal each writer’s increasing awareness that she is ‘implicated, beholden, derived, sustained by a social world’ (64) that renders impossible fully knowing both the self and the other and includes her dispossession in the very language with which she attempts to represent herself. It is significant, I claim, that each novel stages an encounter with the figure of the other – Vercueil in Age of Iron and Sylvie in October – that is mediated through a non-linguistic art form, namely music and photography. Temporarily revealing the opacities created by each writer’s normative framework, these scenes demonstrate the possibility of a full responsiveness to and experience of knowing the other that cannot, however, be narrated.'  (Publication abstract)

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  • 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 09:33:12 Coetzee and Wicomb : Writers Giving an Account of Themselves in Age of Iron and Octobersmall AustLit logo Australian Literary Studies