The Life Of Jm Coetzee Commuter Programmer English Literature Essay

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During his early years, his studies were done in Cape Town where he obtained his B.A. in 1960 and his M.A. in 1963.  He then traveled the world working as a systems programmer for International Computers in Bracknell, Berkshire from 1964-1965.  He later obtained his Ph.D. in literature from the University of Texas at Austin in 1969.  Upon completion of these studies, he returned to his native land of South Africa to join up as a lecturer at the University of Cape Town in 1972 until 1983.  In 1984 and 1986 he would again journey overseas to become the Butler Professor of English at the State University of New York in Buffalo.  He was then the Hinckley Professor of English at John Hopkins University in 1986 and 1989 and the Visiting Professor of English at Harvard University in 1991.

J.M. Coetzee was married in 1963 and then divorced in 1980.  He had one son and one daughter from the marriage.  His son was killed in an accident at the age of 23.  Coetzee's separation from his wife before his divorce was widely expected by his friends as many labeled him as a reclusive and private man.  This label was further evidenced by the fact that he did not journey to London to receive the Booker Prize in 1984 for his novel: The Life and Times of Michael K, nor when he again won the honor for his novel Disgrace in 1999. Author Rian Malan describes Coetzee as: "a man of almost monkish self-discipline and dedication. He does not drink, smoke or eat meat. He cycles vast distances to keep fit and spends at least an hour at his writing-desk each morning, seven days a week. A colleague who has worked with him for more than a decade claims to have seen him laugh just once. An acquaintance

Coetzee represented a large variety of concepts with different characters and events in his works. Each novel is about some particular characters who are trapped in the complications of life from which there is no way to escape. On the surface, the details may differ from one story to another, but some general points can be identified that show the reaction of the writer against the post modern world. One of these important points is about the condition of women in the society. The female characters are not the same in all his novels. They can be black or white, married or unmarried, old or young; they may have different temperaments and very contradictory conditions of life, but all of them show a very important fact that is the marginalization of women and destruction of their identity. In fact, they introduce woman as the Other that is different from man and should be subdued to him. If we study the female characters closely, we can find the same concept as a governing factor in their lives.

Coetzee is an exceptional writer in the way that he has created several works concerning different aspects of post-modern life and a large variety of characters. He represented instinctive desires and the relationships between the two sexes and also the reactions of the people, both men and women, to the circumstances very clearly. But this thesis tries to show the situation of women and the destruction of their identity in a post-modern society that is governed by men. The major attempt is to depict the factors that marginalize women and make them indifferent and also to show how they are the victims of the circumstances.

There are several concepts that can be studied in Coetzee's novels with either post colonial or psychoanalytic outlook. But marginalization of women and destruction of her identity is a key concept that the writer represented in different forms in his works. This thesis tries to cast light on three novels to show the condition of woman as the Other whose life is under the dominance of man.

Women find different conditions and experience various forms of limitation in Coetzee's novels but the fact is that in all cases the real identity of women is ignored and they respond to the circumstances in their own way. These conditions even affect the way they see themselves.

The present thesis starts with an introduction that elaborates on Coetzee, his style, and his way of thinking. The general points in the introduction help to support the particular points in the following chapters. The three other chapters deal with the mentioned novels; Disgrace, Waiting for Barbarians, and In the Heart of the Country; respectively.

In each chapter in the body of the thesis, one of these novels is evaluated to show the marginalization of woman as the Other and her condition in male-dominated society.

The last chapter will be a conclusion that goes far beyond the limitation of these three novels to show the same concept as a dominant factor in all Cpetzee's.

Review of Literature

Coetzee's novels occupy a special place in South African Literature, and this is a context that inevitably affects his writing; yet his work influences the development of the novel into the twenty-first century and the great concept of internationalization of the novel is increasingly relevant to the appreciation of his achievements.

Coetzee was the first South African writer to produce greatly experimental and self-conscious fictions that draw their energies from the intellectual charge of the postmodernist moment. From one side, he was influenced by the European literary

movements of his own time; from the other side, he was faithful to his South African traditions.

Coetzee was strongly against the concept of realism that dominated the South African fiction, especially during the apartheid era. His intellectual influences have taken his work in the direction of the complex literary questions raised in Post modernism. As a result he developed an indirect manner of expression in his works even about social and political matters.

A key document in this connection is Nadine Gordimer's review of Life and Times of Michael K. Gordimer is widely perceived to belong to an opposing camp in the debate about realism in African fiction, having been influenced by Georg Luk'acs's prescriptions for critical realism in the novel. In particular, her novels seek to enact the Luk'acsian typification of character, where the realization of individual characters is coupled with a recognition of a prevailing historical dynamic, so that public and private realms are rendered in a process of dialectical interaction. It is this concept of typicality that Gordimer uses as a yardstick in her evaluation of Michael K, arguing that K's passivity is historically unfaithful. (Head 26)