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The Found VoiceWriters' Beginnings$
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Denis Sampson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198752998

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198752998.001.0001

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J. M. Coetzee’s Dusklands

J. M. Coetzee’s Dusklands

‘The voice of the doubting self’

(p.111) 5 J. M. Coetzee’s Dusklands
The Found Voice

Denis Sampson

Oxford University Press

Dusklands consists of two novellas, ‘The Vietnam Project’, a confession by an army psychologist, and ‘The Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee’, a ‘memoir’ of a Dutch explorer, in South Africa in 1760; both narrators are complicit in barbaric activities and their voices represent a compulsive deception. ‘The Narrative’ is presented as an authentic document of an Afrikaner ancestor, recovered in a pseudo-scholarly edition by ‘the author’s father’ and translated by the novelist, or one who bears the same name. The novella’s larger concern is with ideas of narrative/authorial voice, especially in traditions of fictional realism and historical writing, in particular the representation of Africans. That concern, rooted in Coetzee’s own academic work in linguistic and textual study (notably, of Beckett), translation and anthropology, becomes central to much of his fictional career, especially in his experiments in the confessional genre. Its personal origins are explored in the trilogy, Scenes of Provincial Life.

Keywords:   J. M. Coetzee, Dusklands, Afrikaner, Vietnam, Beckett, translation, confession, Scenes of Provincial Life

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