Chapter

Cultural Criticism in the Australian Fiction

Patrick Hayes

in J.M. Coetzee and the Novel

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199587957
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723292 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587957.003.0009

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Cultural Criticism in the Australian Fiction

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This concluding chapter considers Coetzee's Australian fiction in relation to a longstanding tradition of cultural criticism directed at the moral and political condition of modernity. It has recently been argued that this tradition, for all its many differences of emphasis, has as its shared characteristic the deployment of a ‘cultural principle’ that displaces politics and itself lays claim to the role of social authority: this chapter sets Coetzee in the context of the most important new thinking about the tradition of cultural criticism, making special reference to the recent debate between Stefan Collini and Francis Mulhern. It shows that Coetzee sustainedly tries to refuse the moral and political simplifications that at times have characterized this tradition—allusion is made in particular to the work of Benda, Arnold, Nietzsche, and T. S. Eliot—and that his fiction opens up a line of cultural criticism that more subtly navigates the complex terrain of political modernity.

Keywords: cultural criticism; political modernity; Benda; Arnold; Eliot; Nietzsche; Collini; Mulhern

Chapter.  13992 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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