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Mobile Fences: J.M. Coetzee’s <i>Waiting for the Barbarians</i>

By Eleonora Pizzinat


<p>Fences usually enclose and separate, but they are also places of exchange neither inside nor outside. This concept is well represented in J.M. Coetzee&rsquo;s <em>Waiting for the Barbarians</em>, because not only this novel is setted on the border between an undefined Empire and the barbarians&rsquo; lands, but it also plays with various declinations of the idea of limit and boundary. Through a reading which intends to highlight every kind of frame in the novel, it will emerge that no border is fixed and conclusive. Namely, in this book every real or metaphoric fence is called into question: the distinction between the duality of &ldquo;us and them&rdquo; is actually determined by the Empire&rsquo;s walls which separate the inside from the outside in an arbitrary way; the magistrate (with the empathy he feels for the barbarian girl) is inevitably caught in a double bind; and, according to Emmanuel L&eacute;vinas&rsquo; philosophy, the desire to understand otherness reveals its predatory intentions from a post-colonial point of view. It is not possible to delineate an ultimate bordeline, and it will emerge that instead of a binary logic there is a more fruitful way of thinking, a way based on frames, paradoxes and literary texts which cannot be read as flat mirroring devices.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p

Topics: J.M. Coetzee, Cornice, Frame, Double Bind, Otherness, South-Africa, Postcolonial, Literature (General), PN1-6790, Language and Literature, P, Geography. Anthropology. Recreation, G, Language. Linguistic theory. Comparative grammar, P101-410, Translating and interpreting, P306-310
Publisher: Università degli Studi di Cagliari
Year: 2011
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