J.M. Coetzee . Presented by Emily, Candice, Tracy & Kiwi. J.M. Coetzee – Biography. Birthday: 2-9-1940 Where: Cape Town, South Africa Parents: Afrikaner Language: English Education: ☆1963, master’s degree at the University of Cape Town ☆1969,Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austain
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Emily, Candice, Tracy & Kiwi
☆1963, master’s degree at the University of Cape Town
☆1969,Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austain
☆1984, as professor of general literature at the University of Cape Town
Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize
James Tait Black Memorial Prize
． 1999Disgrace –
won the Nobel Prize in 2003
Coetzee often writes about racism and apartheid. This book is no exception. It is a story about a distant settlement at an unknown time. The settlement is being run by the Magistrate. They have for years lived a peaceful life in harmony with the surrounding natives.
One day Colonel Joll from the Third Bureau arrives to the settlement with orders from the Empire. The natives— known as barbarians to the Empire—are recognized as a threat. Colonel Joll and his men have come to distinguish that threat. Joll's interrogation methods are cruel and the natives living close to the settlement are imprisoned and tortured.
The people living in the settlement are becoming increasingly convinced that the barbarians are in fact a threat, and that a war has to be fought. They start living in fear and they feel that it is no longer safe to leave the settlement.
The one person who feels sympathy for the barbarians and objects to how they are being treated is the Magistrate. He is soon seen as a traitor when he helps a young woman back to her native people and is himself thrown in jail.
The relationship between the Magistrate and Colonel Joll is analogous to the relationship between the Magistrate and the barbarian girl. In both there are uneven relationships due to unequal social positions, one is superior and the other, subordinate.
Colonel Joll -- A representative of empire; he thinks except those who are dominated by imperialism, people are considered as barbarians.
Different thoughts for civilization and barbarians
Magistrate -- He thinks that the civilized people who live under the empire are real barbarians.
“ … ‘Did no one tell him these are fishing people? ......’ I fling the letter at the window.”
(2830, par 3 )
“… ‘ When they saw us coming they tried to hide… Because they were hiding.’”
(2830, par 5)
-- He is sleepy and sleeping with girl without sexual feeling.
The narrator, a country magistrate, a responsible official in the service of the Empire, accepts all of the order from the colonel to imprison the ‘barbarians’ before he realizes barbarians’ suffering and some unfair treatment.
Those so-called barbarian are nomads. Then, he seems to result from sympathy and fall in love with a barbarian girl. Finally, he helps the girl back to her hometown, but he is also suspected to be a traitor by colonel and then he is forced to be imprisoned.
Anonymous figures and Colonel Joll
Dreams from narrator
"A dead parrot: I hold it by the tail, its bedraggled feathers hang down, its soggy wings droop, its eyes sockets are empty. When I release it, it falls through the surface without a splash“ (p. 163).
“Is he blind? I could understand it if he wanted to hide blind eyes. But he is not blind. The discs are dark, they look opaque from the outside, but he can see through them.” (p.1)
“‘There is a certain tone,’ Joll says. ‘A certain tone enters the voice of a man who is telling the truth. Training and experience teach us to recognize that tone.’” (p. 5)
“Pain is truth; all else is subject to doubt. That is what I bear away from my conversation with Colonel Joll…” (p. 5)
“There has been something staring me in the face, and still I do not see it.” (p. 170)
“I myself sit ….making the day’s entry in the log-book but listening too. The banter goes on in the pidgin of the frontier, and she is at no loss for words. I am surprised by her fluency, he quickness, her self-possession.” (p. 68)
“When she does not look at me I am a grey form moving about unpredictably on the periphery of her vision. When she looks at me I am a blur, a voice, a smell, a centre of energy that one day…” (p. 31)
“They are welcome to whatever they want as long as they will stay and guard our lives. And the more they are fawned on, the more their arrogance grow. We know we cannot rely on them.” (p144)
“Empire dooms itself to live in history and plot against history. One thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of Empire: how not to end, how not to die, how to prolong its era. By day it pursues its enemies. It is cunning and ruthless, it sends its bloodhounds everywhere. By night it feeds on images of disaster; the sack of cities, the rape of populations, pyramids of bones, acres of desolation. A mad vision yet a virulent one…” (p. 146)
Coetzee, J.M. Waiting for the barbarians. London : Vintage, 2000.
Colonel Joll. 8 May 2006 <http://hem.passagen.se/vilia/colonel.html>.
Philip Glass: Waiting for the Barbarians, world premiere in Erfurt Theatre on September 10, 2005. 8 May 2006 <http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2005/Jul-Dec05/barbarians.htm>.