Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This article details the political significance of Booker Prize-winning novelist J. M. Coetzee queering a longstanding slave character trope. After briefly sketching how Shakespeare's Caliban and Daniel Defoe's Friday operate narratively, I demonstrate that Coetzee's Friday in Foe (1986), in contradistinction to his literary predecessors, refuses protocols attached to language, music, dance, and sex. That is, by disavowing all forms of intercourse with white heteropatriarchy, Coetzee's Friday averts his own erasure precisely by espousing a politics of castration. This castration—or refusal to be made intelligible and thereby appropriable to European interlocutors during the time of slavery—directs readerly scrutiny to the imperialist self-regard exemplified in Shakespeare's Prospero and Defoe's Crusoe. Distinct from the seeming critical consensus that dismisses Coetzee's Friday as "the castrated mute," I thus show that his castration produces a political alternative that commands recognition of the inconvenient, unsanitized history of the Atlantic.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2044
Print ISSN
0034-5210
Pages
pp. 182-198
Launched on MUSE
2018-11-21
Open Access
No
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