The Question of character in Modernist Fiction: Kafka and Coetzee
19 November 2014
Monash’s Centre for Writers and Writing and Literary and Cultural Research Network are delighted to present a public lecture entitled “The Question of Character in Modernist Fiction: Kafka and Coetzee” by distinguished scholar, Professor Derek Attridge from the University of York.
One of the distinctive features of Kafka’s brand of modernism is its handling of character. If Coetzee can be regarded as a late modernist, is it useful to see him as an heir of Kafka in this regard? Starting from John Frow’s recent study Character and Person, this talk will engage with the disagreement between Gayatri Spivak and Simon During over counter-focalization in Disgrace and offer some thoughts on the peculiarities of The Childhood of Jesus.
Derek Attridge is Professor of English at at the University of York, England. He is the author or editor of twenty-one books on literary theory, poetic form, South African literature, and the writings of James Joyce. A number of publications reflect his long association with the philosopher Jacques Derrida, a selection of whose work he has edited. His best-known work of literary theory, The Singularity of Literature, raises the question of the distinctiveness of literature as a linguistic and social practice, and argues that a crucial element is the response to otherness that characterises both the writing of an inventive literary work and the reading of it as literature. His forthcoming book, The Work of Literature, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2015, continues to explore the distinctiveness of the literary work.
Professor Attridge is well-known as a scholar of South African literature, and his publications include the Cambridge History of South African Literature (co-edited with David Attwell) and a study of the novels of J. M. Coetzee. He is also a Joyce scholar, having published several works on this author and served for many years as a Trustee of the International James Joyce Foundation. Another interest is poetic form, reflected most recently in his 2013 book Moving Words: Forms of English Poetry.
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