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Coetzee, Blanchot, and the Work of Writing: The Impersonality of Childhood

Mike Piero

Abstract


This essay pursues an articulation of the relation between the personal and impersonal as they relate to the artistic work of writing, particularly as seen in the work of South African author J.M. Coetzee. Taking the critical theory of Maurice Blanchot as its touchstone on im-personal-ity, the essay aims to uncover how Coetzee’s writing simultaneously negotiates and foregrounds a middle ground between the personal and impersonal as well as between persons and personalities, which issues in the construction of works of art that are personally impersonal in a way that distinguishes authors like Coetzee and Blanchot from others who are, perhaps, more interested in their own personal expression and ‘celebrity.’ Starting with an analysis of these matters as they appear in his memoir-novels, this essay ultimately pursues the consummation of this impersonal discourse and the work of writing in Coetzee’s most recent novel, The Childhood of Jesus (2013).

Keywords


J.M. Coetzee; Maurice Blanchot; impersonal; personality; childhood; writing; goodwill

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