Philosophical Perspectives on Literature
In 2003, South African writer J. M. Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his riveting portrayals of racial repression, sexual politics, the guises of reason, and the hypocrisy of human beings toward animals and nature. Coetzee was credited with being "a scrupulous doubter, ruthless in his criticism of the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of western civilization." The film of his novel Disgrace, starring John Malkovich, brought his challenging ideas to a new audience.
Anton Leist and Peter Singer have assembled an outstanding group of contributors who probe deeply into Coetzee's extensive and extraordinary corpus. They explore his approach to ethical theory and philosophy and pay particular attention to his representation of the human-animal relationship. They also confront Coetzee's depiction of the elementary conditions of life, the origins of morality, the recognition of value in others, the sexual dynamics between men and women, the normality of suppression, and the possibility of equality in postcolonial society. With its wide-ranging consideration of philosophical issues, especially in relation to fiction, this volume stands alone in its extraordinary exchange of ethical and literary inquiry.
Scholarly readers with an interest in Coetzee's novels or philosophy's relationship to literature will find this work highly rewarding.
Introduction: Coetzee and Philosophy, by Anton Leist and Peter SingerPart I. People, Human Relationships, and Politics 1. The Paradoxes of Power in the Early Novels of J. M. Coetzee, by Robert Pippin2. Disgrace, Desire, and the Dark Side of the New South Africa, by Adriaan van Heerden3. Ethical Thought and the Problem of Communication: A Strategy for Reading Diary of a Bad Year, by Jonathan Lear4. Torture and Collective Shame, by Jeff McMahanPart II. Humans, Animals, and Morality 5. Converging Convictions: Coetzee and His Characters on Animals, by Karen Dawn and Peter Singer6. Coetzee and Alternative Animal Ethics, by Elisa Aaltola7. Writing the Lives of Animals, by Ido Geiger8. Sympathy and Scapegoating in J. M. Coetzee, by Andy LameyPart III. Rationality and Human Lives 9. Against Society, Against History, Against Reason: Coetzee's Archaic Postmodernism, by Anton Leist10. Coetzee's Critique of Reason, by Martin Woessner11. J. M. Coetzee, Moral Thinker, by Alice Crary12. Being True to Fact: Coetzee's Prose of the World, by Pieter VermeulenPart IV. Literature, Literary Style, and Philosophy 13. Truth and Love Together at Last: Style, Form, and Moral Vision in Age of Iron, by Samantha Vice14. The Lives of Animals and the Form-Content Connection, by Jennifer Flynn15. Irony and Belief in Elizabeth Costello, by Michael Funk Deckard and Ralph Palm16. Coetzee's Hidden Polemic with Nietzsche, by Alena DvorakovaList of ContributorsIndex