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The Art of HungerAesthetic Autonomy and the Afterlives of Modernism$
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Alys Moody

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198828891

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198828891.001.0001

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Starving Across the Color Line

Starving Across the Color Line

J. M. Coetzee in Apartheid South Africa

Chapter:
(p.156) 4 Starving Across the Color Line
Source:
The Art of Hunger
Author(s):

Alys Moody

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198828891.003.0005

Chapter 4 examines the writing of J. M. Coetzee in the context of late apartheid South Africa, where the call to political responsibility returns with a new urgency. Coetzee breaks with this consensus, maintaining a commitment to aesthetic autonomy through his investment in a European modernist tradition that incorporates the art of hunger. In a context where hunger itself was highly politicized, Coetzee’s 1983 novel Life & Times of Michael K produces an anti-politics of hunger, whose autonomy rests in the disjuncture between its white author and its Coloured protagonist. Pursuing this argument through a genetic reading of the novel’s drafts, this chapter shows how this novel was written out of and against both the debates about art and politics in apartheid-era South Africa, and the emerging theoretical positions that governed Coetzee’s international anglophone academic context at this moment.

Keywords:   J. M. Coetzee, South Africa, apartheid, race, hunger, Life & Times of Michael K

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