Thesis Eleven 162 (1):137-154 (2021)

J.M. Coetzee has unquestionably achieved the status of ‘international author’ within dominant conceptions of world literature: his works circulate widely in both English and translation and have been legitimated by the principal arbitrators of the global cultural industry. He has, however, recently positioned himself as ‘an international author, but in a different sense’; that is, as a writer whose internationalism is achieved through his location in ‘the South’. This article considers how Coetzee’s narratives thematize being ‘international’ in this ‘different sense’. It focuses on the pivotal works of Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life and the opening chapters of Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons while tracking an orientation southward across his oeuvre in allusions to Joseph Conrad, Jorge Luis Borges and, in particular, Pablo Neruda as well as in Coetzee’s repeated turn to littoral settings. These settings open to what the article describes as the ‘blue southern hemisphere’, implicating narrative world-making in the geophysical properties and ‘troubled histories’ that constitute the South and recasting the act of writing from ‘the far edges’ into a planetary perspective that contends with the uncanny nature of settler societies in the southern temperate zone.
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DOI 10.1177/0725513621991003
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