'In this article, I argue that the epiphanies in J.M. Coetzee’s fiction can be read as literary enactments of the ‘creature-feeling’, a feeling of absolute dependence on one’s creatureliness that was first described by the theologian Rudolf Otto. I begin with a discussion of the creature-feeling with reference to William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) and Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy (1917). Critics have observed that Coetzee’s fictions suggest shared embodiment as the basis for humans’ ethical responsibility towards other humans and towards animals, and have focussed on Emmanuel Lévinas when addressing theological influences on Coetzee’s non-rational ethics. Bringing James and Otto into the discussion allows me to account for those epiphanic moments in Coetzee that do not overlap with the ethical or the aesthetic, moments in which characters experience what I call secular grace. Coetzee is not the first to enact the creature-feeling: he reworks earlier enactments by James Joyce.' (Publication abstract)
'J. M. Coetzee’s fourth Australian novel The Childhood of Jesus (2013) has all signs of a realistic refugee novel with its use of simple language, lucid plotline and stock characters. But it is another of Coetzee’s postmodern projects with its striking contingent of metafictional devices. This essay uses Jean-Francois Lyotard’s theory of the postmodern and attends to three metafictional details in the novel——the naming of Novilla, the boy protagonist’s handover to an alleged mother, and his "magical cloak of invisibility"——to delve into Coetzee’s allusive representation of the experience of displacement of two refugees, Simon and particularly David. It is contended that The Childhood of Jesus, through a postmodern representation of the double traumas of a child refugee who has lost his home and loved ones in war, constitutes a testament to Coetzee’s penetrating engagement with the global refugee problem in the 21st century.'
Source: CAOD database.