Cover image for J.M. Coetzee
J.M. Coetzee
Head, Dominic.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Physical Description:
xvi, 192 pages ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR9369.3.C58 Z68 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The importance of J. M. Coetzee in the development of twentieth-century fiction is widely recognised. His work addresses some of the key issues of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries: the relationship between postmodernism and postcolonialism, the role of history in the novel, and the question of how the author can combine an ethical and political consciousness with a commitment to the novel as a work of fiction. In this study, written in 1998, Dominic Head assesses Coetzee's position as a white South African writer engaged with the legacy of colonialism. Through close readings of all the novels, Head shows how Coetzee inhabits a transitional site between Europe and Africa, and it is from this position that his more general concerns emerge. Coetzee's engagement with the problems facing the postcolonial writer, Head argues, is always enriched by his awareness of a wider literary tradition.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In the context of the critical debates about Coetzee, Head (Univ. of Central England, UK) puts himself squarely among those concerned with locating the postcolonial writer's place in South African literature in particular and in the late-20th-century novel in general. Defining him as the first South African writer to produce fictions that consciously draw on international postmodernism, Head argues that Coetzee occupies a transitional space between Europe and Africa. This perspective shapes Coetzee's approach to some of the key issues of the late 20th century: the challenges of postmodernism and postcolonialism, the problem of history, the reconciliation of political and ethical commitments with an allegiance to the discourse of fiction. Through a close reading of Coetzee's seven novels, from Dusklands (1974) through The Master of Petersburg (1994), Head makes a convincing argument. Also author of Nadine Gordimer (CH, Nov'95), Head has written a study that is both intellectually challenging and accessible to nonspecialist readers. His significant contribution to Coetzee scholarship belongs on the same bookshelf as Teresa Dovey's The Novels of J.M. Coetzee: Lacanian Allegories (1988), Dick Penner's Countries of the Mind: The Fiction of J.M. Coetzee (CH, Feb'90), Susan VanZanten Gallagher's A Story of South Africa: J.M. Coetzee's Fiction in Context (CH, Mar'92), and David Attwell's J.M. Coetzee: South Africa and the Politics of Writing, (CH, Nov'93). All general and academic collections J. A. Miller University of South Carolina

Table of Contents

1 The writer's place: Coetzee and postcolonial literature
2 Writing violence: Dusklands
3 The wrong kind of love: In the Heart of the Country
4 An ethical awakening: Waiting for the Barbarians
5 Gardening as resistance: Life and Times of Michael K
6 The maze of doubting: Foe
7 A true confession: Age of Iron
8 Producing the demon: The Master of Petersburg