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Title:Forays into the attic: The postcolonial fiction of Jean Rhys and J. M. Coetzee
Author(s):Sagar, Aparajita
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hurt, James R.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Modern
Literature, African
Literature, Caribbean
Literature, English
Abstract:The dissertation examines the writing of Jean Rhys and J. M. Coetzee and its postcolonial interventions in modernism and postmodernism. Chapter I, "The Postcolonial Sensibilities of the Native Alien," focuses on current postcolonial theoretical debates on resistance and authenticity; it then positions Rhys and Coetzee as "native alien" or postcolonized elite writers, problematizing their presentation of difference and resistance. Chapters II and III are titled "Voyage in the Dark: Inscriptions in Text and History," and "Receding/Recursive Margins in Wide Sargasso Sea: 'Who Knows What's Up in the Attic?' thinspace"; they focus on Rhys's fictional strategy of borrowing the rage and resistances of other narratives of dispossession. In both chapters, I examine Rhys's formal dismantling of the epistemes of humanist-modernism, particularly her use of mimicry, the uncanny and anti-Bildung, her denaturalizing of literary impressionism and the gothic, and the resistance to "knowability" in her landscaping of the Caribbean.
If Rhys undertakes her forays into the attics of the canon in order, as she puts it, to "write ... a life" for the figure banished to its recesses, Coetzee's fiction can be called a direct reversal of this project: a demonstration of its own complicity in received knowledges, and thus the impossibility of recovering this banished other. The complicity of the postcolonial native alien, Coetzee once said, is "far too complex a notion for the time being," a claim Chapter IV examines in a reading of his postcolonial criticism and fiction. Titled " thinspace'Models and Theories' That Make Possible Life and Times of Michael K," the chapter focuses on Coetzee's fourth novel, often said to have departed from Coetzee's earlier postmodern textual practice, and consequently read as a modernist narrative of redemption. In a reversal of this reading, I trace Coetzee's collapse of even this redemptive narrative into the ideology of what he has described as "white writing." The postmodernist implosion of this redemptive modernist narrative is Coetzee's most artful demonstration yet of complicity; I ask whether there is a will to mastery and closure even in his austere refusal to claim resistance and alterity. A brief conclusion returns to the question of complicity and borrowed rages in the fiction of the postcolonial native alien.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Sagar, Aparajita
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9210973
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9210973

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