Writing and Politics: Contexts and Debates

Patrick Hayes

in J.M. Coetzee and the Novel

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199587957
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723292 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Writing and Politics: Contexts and Debates

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This chapter contextualizes Coetzee's fiction by placing it in relation to late twentieth‐century debates on the nature of a good community, and on the relationship between culture and politics. It argues that Coetzee presents political modernity as a divided moral legacy made up of two distinctively different interpretations of the ideal of equal recognition—the politics of equal dignity and the politics of difference. The chapter explores the different claims each form of politics tends to make upon literary expression with reference to a wide range of intellectuals—including Habermas, Charles Taylor, John Gray, Sartre, Fanon, and the South African Students' Organization (SASO). It relates Coetzee's approach to an alternative line of thinking about both culture and politics, which departs from the different forms of the politics of recognition by instead seeking to defend an anti‐foundational understanding of the good community.

Keywords: culture and politics; political modernity; difference; equal dignity; recognition; community; South Africa; Habermas; Sartre; Fanon; Charles Taylor; John Gray; SASO

Chapter.  9686 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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