Coetzee's Novels: Romanticism and Critique of Reason
Coetzee Enlightenment romanticism Adorno Rousseau fascism;
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Bringing to light Rousseau's romanticism and its Eastern philosophical implications, this thesis explores anarchistic and anti-rational spirits Coetzee's characters Michael K and the old magistrate convey in Life & Times of Michael K and Waiting for the Barbarians. In these two novels, Coetzee's critical stance is directed at the fascistic logic of political hegemony a privileged group holds over the underprivileged. Two different kinds of resistance to the fascistic collectivism come up in the two novels: Michael K takes the political stance of no man as everyman whose escapism from any form of political dogmatism is well accounted for by Taoism and Buddhist no-self; the old magistrate finds an irony of political fascism whose propagandist logic is based on a biased view of the underrepresented minority. In Waiting for the Barbarians, the opposition between the civilized and the barbarians is blurred. Coetzee's satirical voice is clear: the Enlightenment triggering civilization actually draws on superstitious myths, the paradox of which is critically noted by Horkheimer and Adorno.