The Postcolonial Writer in Performance: J. M. Coetzee’s Summertime

Serena Guarracino

Abstract

This essay focuses on the elaboration of postcolonial literature as an event emerging from the interaction among the many and diverse agencies which allow the postcolonial work to come into being. This formulation both highlights the repetition of tropes in postcolonial literature and the variations to the tropes themselves, which can become ethically and politically relevant by creating an interruption in accepted notions of what a postcolonial work should sound like. Following this lead, the essay will outline a methodological approach which interprets the literary work as a performative act in the complex nexus of discourses constituting the postcolonial writer as a figure of the global collective imaginary, taking as case study J. M. Coetzee’s work with particular focus on his Nobel Prize lecture and the third instalment of his memoir series, Summertime (2009). His work, together with others, is taken as a symptom of how public lectures and statements, together with the literary work proper, have all become an expression of the writer’s own performativity as a writer; while these phenomena have an impact on literature as a whole, the essay focuses on the postcolonial writer figure as historically endowed with what Kobena Mercer has famously termed “the burden of representation.”

Keywords

Postcolonial literature; Performance; Coetzee, J.M.; Summertime



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2013.26.08

Copyright (c) 2013 Serena Guarracino

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