Beyond the Ancient Quarrel: Literature, Philosophy, and J.M. Coetzee

ISBN : 9780198805281

Patrick Hayes ; Jan Wilm
272 ページ
156 x 234 mm

In Plato's Republic, Socrates spoke of an 'ancient quarrel between literature and philosophy' which he offered to resolve once and for all by banning the poets from his ideal city. Few philosophers have taken Socrates at his word, and out of the ancient quarrel there has emerged a long tradition that has sought to value literature chiefly as a useful supplement to philosophical reasoning. The fiction of J.M. Coetzee makes a striking challenge to this tradition. While his writing has frequently engaged philosophical subjects in explicit ways, it has done so with an emphasis on the dissonance between literary expression and philosophical reasoning. And while Coetzee has often overtly engaged with academic literary theory, his fiction has done so in a way that has tended to disorient rather than affirm those same theories, wrong-footing the normal processes of literary interpretation. This volume brings together philosophers and literary theorists to reflect upon the challenge Coetzee has made to their respective disciplines, and to the disciplinary distinctions at stake in the ancient quarrel. The essays use his fiction to explore questions about the boundaries between literature, philosophy, and literary criticism; the relationship between literature, theology, and post-secularism; the particular ways in which literature engages reality; how literature interacts with the philosophies of language, action, subjectivity, and ethics; and the institutions that govern the distinctions between literature and philosophy. It will be of importance not only to readers of Coetzee, but to anyone interested in the ancient quarrel itself.


1 Patrick Hayes and Jan Wilm: Ancient Quarrels, Modern Contexts: An Introduction'

Part I. Unsettling Boundaries: Philosophy, Literature, and Literary Criticism
2 Stephen Mulhall: Health and Deviance, Irony and Incarnation: Embedding and Embodying Philosophy in The Childhood of Jesus
3 Max De Gaynesford: Attuning Philosophy and Literary Criticism: A Response to In the Heart of the Country'
4 Andrew Dean: Double Thoughts: Coetzee and the Philosophy of Literary Criticism
5 Julika Griem: 'Good paragraphing. Unusual content': On the Making and Unmaking of Novelistic Worlds

Par II. Ethics and Moral Philosophy
6 Derek Attridge: 'A Yes without a No': Philosophical Reason and the Ethics of Conversion in Coetzee's Fiction'
7 Eileen John: Coetzee and Eros: A Critique of Moral Philosophy

Part III. Reality, Language, and Subjectivity
8 Alice Crary: Coetzee's Quest for Reality
9 Martin Woessner: Beyond Realism: Coetzee's Post-Secular Imagination
10 Peter McDonald: Coetzee's Critique of Language
11 Jean-Michel Rabate: Coetzee and Psychoanalysis: from Paranoia to Aporia

Part IV. Contexts and Institutions
12 Carrol Clarkson: 'Wisselbare Woorde': Coetzee and Postcolonial Philosophy
13 Jan Wilm: The J.M. Coetzee Archive and the Archive in J.M. Coetzee


Patrick Hayes is Associate Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, and a Fellow of St John's College. He is the author of Philip Roth: Fiction and Power (OUP, 2014) and J. M. Coetzee and the Novel: Writing and Politics after Beckett (OUP, 2010). ; Jan Wilm is a Lecturer in English Literature at Goethe University. He is co-editor, with Mark Nixon, of Samuel Beckett und die deutsche Literatur (Transcript, 2013) and author of The Slow Philosophy of J. M. Coetzee (Bloomsbury, 2016). He also works as a literary critic and a literary translator.