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“Stands for Itself Certainly”Coetzee's Jesus Trilogy

“Stands for Itself Certainly”Coetzee's Jesus Trilogy J. M. Coetzee's trilogy of novels with Jesus in their titles, published between 2013 and 2019, has bewildered many reviewers. This essay review proposes that that bewilderment stems from a misconception of the novels’ allegorical dimension and of the possible meanings evoked by their titles. The trilogy is the consummation of Coetzee's meditations on analogy and linguistic skepticism; on the ontological status of fictions; on the eschatological impulsion of writing; and on memory's capacity for true recognitions that have no empirical basis. The trilogy presents us with a world that affirms a purely immanent life. Coetzee tests this world dialogically by subjecting its self-identical “here” to the nonidentical repetitions of analogical thought, through which an “elsewhere” impinges on the “here.” The trilogy's deepest questions turn on the metaphysical scope of this “elsewhere”: that is, on whether the vertiginous depths of analogy participate in an underlying substrate of meaning, recognizable as “the Word of God.” http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

“Stands for Itself Certainly”Coetzee's Jesus Trilogy

Common Knowledge , Volume 27 (3) – Aug 1, 2021

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Copyright
Copyright © 2021 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754x-9265297
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

J. M. Coetzee's trilogy of novels with Jesus in their titles, published between 2013 and 2019, has bewildered many reviewers. This essay review proposes that that bewilderment stems from a misconception of the novels’ allegorical dimension and of the possible meanings evoked by their titles. The trilogy is the consummation of Coetzee's meditations on analogy and linguistic skepticism; on the ontological status of fictions; on the eschatological impulsion of writing; and on memory's capacity for true recognitions that have no empirical basis. The trilogy presents us with a world that affirms a purely immanent life. Coetzee tests this world dialogically by subjecting its self-identical “here” to the nonidentical repetitions of analogical thought, through which an “elsewhere” impinges on the “here.” The trilogy's deepest questions turn on the metaphysical scope of this “elsewhere”: that is, on whether the vertiginous depths of analogy participate in an underlying substrate of meaning, recognizable as “the Word of God.”

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Aug 1, 2021

References