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Timely Meditations: Reflections on the Role of the Humanities in J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello and Diary of a Bad Year

Department of English Studies, University of Cyprus, 75 Kallipoleos Street, P.O. Box 20537, Nicosia 1678, Cyprus
Humanities 2014, 3(3), 379-397; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3030379
Received: 30 April 2014 / Revised: 8 August 2014 / Accepted: 11 August 2014 / Published: 15 August 2014
What may be the relevance of the European tradition of the humanities and of humanism today? In his novels, Elizabeth Costello and Diary of a Bad Year, the South-African writer, academic, and current resident of Australia, J.M. Coetzee, both enriches and puts into question the European traditions that have shaped scholarship, literary writers and academic professions in the humanities. His characters’ meditations on the value of literature, humanism, and the humanities, their present crisis and future possibilities, are timely interventions made from a complex, critical, comparative, cultural and geographic distance. The metafictional investigations of the two novels test the limits of the genre in a manner consistent with more experimental strains of postmodern fiction, while the two protagonists reflect two main personae of the author as itinerant, ageing academic and writer. It is the position of this paper that Coetzee constructs a minor literature within the major language of English; this is made evident by the entirety of his oeuvre to date though it becomes thematized in these two works. This paper will trace some of the contours, confrontations and dialogs of the two books and explore certain tangents of the radical quests and questions they put to their readership. View Full-Text
Keywords: humanism; humanities; value; crisis; Nietzsche; minor literature; Deleuze; Guattari humanism; humanities; value; crisis; Nietzsche; minor literature; Deleuze; Guattari
MDPI and ACS Style

Varsamopoulou, E. Timely Meditations: Reflections on the Role of the Humanities in J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello and Diary of a Bad Year. Humanities 2014, 3, 379-397. https://doi.org/10.3390/h3030379

AMA Style

Varsamopoulou E. Timely Meditations: Reflections on the Role of the Humanities in J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello and Diary of a Bad Year. Humanities. 2014; 3(3):379-397. https://doi.org/10.3390/h3030379

Chicago/Turabian Style

Varsamopoulou, Evy. 2014. "Timely Meditations: Reflections on the Role of the Humanities in J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello and Diary of a Bad Year" Humanities 3, no. 3: 379-397. https://doi.org/10.3390/h3030379

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