Journal Article

The Review of English Studies Prize Essay ‘An Author I have not Read’: Coetzee's Foe, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, and the Problem of the Novel

Patrick Hayes

in The Review of English Studies

Volume 57, issue 230, pages 273-290
Published in print June 2006 | ISSN: 0034-6551
Published online June 2006 | e-ISSN: 1471-6968 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/res/hgl038
The Review of English Studies Prize Essay ‘An Author I have not Read’: Coetzee's Foe, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, and the Problem of the Novel

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J. M. Coetzee's Foe, one of the most discussed of his novels, is known for its intertextual relationship with Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Roxana. But despite the substantial body of criticism devoted to examining Foe's intertextuality, the allusions it makes to Crime and Punishment at crucial moments in the narrative have not so far been spotted. This essay argues that Dostoevsky's novel is of greater structural importance to Foe than those of Defoe, and that Foe's allusions to Dostoevsky enable an understanding of its hitherto baffling ending. It shows how the presence of Crime and Punishment in the text relates to the literary-critical study of Dostoevsky that Coetzee made just prior to composition, and argues that his engagement with Dostoevsky enjoins us to examine Foe more rigorously in terms of its handling of literary genre, particularly that of the novel itself. Through Dostoevsky a new reading of Foe emerges that throws the more established ways of dealing with the text into doubt; it becomes more complex, more witty, and more stubbornly paradoxical than previous criticism has been able to acknowledge.

Journal Article.  9779 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Postcolonial Literature) ; Literary Studies (American) ; Literary Studies (British and Irish)

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