A megalomaniac Boer frontiersman wreaks hideous vengeance on a Hottentot tribe for undermining the ‘natural’ order of his universe with their anarchic rival order, mocking him, and subjecting him to the humiliations of his own all too palpable flesh.
A specialist in psychological warfare is driven to breakdown and madness by the stresses of a project of macabre ingenuity to win the war in Vietnam. Both the 18th-century Jacobus Coetzee and the 20th-century Eugene Dawn are in the business of pushing back the frontiers of knowledge and are dealers in death who denounce their own humanity and spurn their feelings of guilt.
In these two narratives, Coetzee has crystallized in their absurdity and horror the extremes of scientific evangelism and heroic exploration.
Cowboys, ‘Hottentots’ and the Vietcong
Though J. M. Coetzee is now internationally fêted as South Africa’s second Nobel Laureate in Literature, his early novels remain largely ignored. His first, Dusklands, is especially worth...Read more