The trouble, if it can really be named as such, for many contemporary authors is the baggage that comes with national identity. For many, to. A modern classic by Nobel Laureate J.M. Coetzee. His latest novel, The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking. Late Essays: will be. J. M. COETZEE’S WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS. Susan Van Zanten Gallagher. One of the most horrifying realities of the twentieth century is the wide- .

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As we feel its aftershocks how can we not taste the same bitter impotence of those stranded in other periods of darkness that derive simply from the worst parts of human nature; or how can we not feel a premonition of doom that there is not much that can be done.

In the fashion of Coetzee’s signature didacticism the novel is rife with allegorical implications but as much as these can be deeply thought-provoking, sometimes they also resemble conveniently inserted contrivances. It may be true that the world as it stands is no illusion, no evil dream of a night. View all 68 comments. To ask other readers questions about Waiting for the Barbariansplease sign up.

Coetzee Sharif Hamadeh 3 November Coetzee borrowed the title of his novel from the poetry of the Alexandria-born Greek poet Constantine P.

Despite those smug pronouncements of the 21st century being an era of a fair and equitable world and the hard battles won in favor of interracial harmony, there’s the fact of your friend barely suppressing a squawk of alarm when you express your admiration for Idris Elba – no female I am acquainted with in real life h It is impossible to read this and not be reminded of an almost genetically programmed inferiority complex, the burden of history only the descendants of the colonized have to bear.


The story is narrated in the first person by the unnamed magistrate of a small colonial town that exists as the territorial frontier of “the Empire”.

Waiting for the Barbarians

This page was last jjm on 19 Novemberat Yesterday it was a terrorist attack and perhaps no direct result of imperialism, but maybe the fears that the recent events provoked in me are somewhat akin to those suffered in this tiny frontier settlement with the arrival of interrogation experts.

Despite the scarce descriptions in many parts of this story, he managed to create vivid characters. Seizing the Magistrate, a group of soldiers hangs him up by his armsdeepening his understanding of imperialistic violence by a personal experience of torture. It is also to this young barbarian woman that the magistrate reveals a central theme of the novel: As an executive with Canada’s refugee program, I was once given access to a rather lengthy document provided as ocetzee guideline to US officials involved questioning captured suspected ‘enemies’.


Refresh and try again. The Empire is not named, the Barbarians are not specified, and though the particulars of the settings are echoed by historical counterparts, Coetzee leaves out enough details to make the place timeless, universal, fabulistic.

On a more personal, human level, we see in the Magistrate the simple shame of old age, with its accompanying loss of virility and strength.

The first, in italics, is the one that someone seems to expect, the second is the one I would normally write. The first is Col.


Waiting for the Barbarians – Wikipedia

It is the tale of The Magistrate, a mid-level bureaucrat who presides over a small settlement on the edge of a pre-industrial Empire. They only appear as prisoners who are subsequently tortured. A copy should come in every newborn’s gift package. Although the crowd is encouraged to participate in their wiating, the Magistrate bursts onto the scene to stop it, but is subdued.

South African Apartheid collapsed in part because of novels like this – and those it provoked to take action. Would it make any difference to you if you were rooted in a cat or a dog instead of in me?

View all 8 comments. Take that away, and the proponents of the colonial mission to civilise find themselves disoriented and redundant, deserted in the desert. I may or not be nodding my head.

When interrogation experts arrive, however, he witnesses the Empire’s cruel and unjust treatment of prisoners of war.

Magistrate’s emotions 6 11 Aug 04, There is nothing barbrians can do about that. As the magistrate relates:. He seems to regain part of his whole as he stands up to the brutal agents of the state, albeit at the price of pain, humiliation, and loss of status.

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