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.
'In her well-read work on contemporary feminist theory titled Nomadic Subjects (2011), Rosi Braidotti gets to grips with the Deleuzian notion of ‘becoming-woman’. Noting that the concept has experienced a good deal of criticism in feminist circles (and from some important feminists too, such as Luce Irigaray), Braidotti argues that there is still something of extreme importance in this concept for the feminist to recover. For Braidotti, ‘becoming-woman’ allows for ‘a nonunitary and multi-layered vision’ of the subject. That is to say, it allows for the description of ‘a dynamic and changing entity’ (5) – one that challenges the striated formulations of ‘woman’ found in phallo- and Euro-centric master codes. Importantly, however, it does so not by posing an essentialised subject position of ‘woman’ for others either to mimic or aspire to (often the grounds for the misreading of the concept), but rather by referencing ‘woman’ as an intensity of sorts, an intensity that is the pre-condition for both revolutionary thought and action (249-250).
'This paper takes the Deleuzian concept of ‘becoming-woman’ and uses it as a way to understand the enigmatic relationship that develops between the Magistrate and the barbarian girl in Coetzee’s early novel, Waiting for the Barbarians (1980). Beginning with a brief characterisation of the barbarian girl as an agent of transformation, this paper goes on to offer an explanation for why the encounter between the Magistrate and the barbarian girl necessarily results in the Magistrate’s turn away from the State.' (Publication abstract)
‘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)