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Beyond the Ancient QuarrelLiterature, Philosophy, and J.M. Coetzee$
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Patrick Hayes and Jan Wilm

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805281

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805281.001.0001

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Coetzee’s Quest for Reality

Coetzee’s Quest for Reality

Chapter:
(p.125) 8 Coetzee’s Quest for Reality
Source:
Beyond the Ancient Quarrel
Author(s):

Alice Crary

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198805281.003.0008

In this chapter, Alice Crary argues that a truly ‘realist’ work of literature might be one that, instead of conforming to familiar genre-specifications, attempts by other means to expose readers to the real—that is, to how things really are. Crary highlights Coetzee’s efforts to elicit what she calls ‘transformative thought’: a process that involves both delineating the progress of individual characters in their quests for reality, and, in formal terms, inviting readers to, for instance, imaginatively participate in such quests. With regard to The Childhood of Jesus, she highlights resonances between these features of Coetzee’s writing and Wittgenstein’s procedures in the Philosophical Investigations. In doing so, Crary brings out a respect in which literature and philosophy are complementary discourses: literature can deal in the sort of objective or universal truth that is philosophy’s touchstone, and philosophical discourse can have an essentially literary dimension.

Keywords:   Realism, genres, reality, transformative thought, The Childhood of Jesus, Wittgenstein

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