The Novel in Africa

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THE NOVEL IN AFRICA

John Maxwell Coetzee is a South African essayist, novelist , linguist, literary critic and translator. He has also won the Noble prize in the Literature category. The following lecture ‘The Novel in Africa’ was given by him in the University of California in Doreen B.Townsend Center for the Humanities. This lecture is a fictionalized creation of J.M .Coetzee, which upholds his belief that, “…a true sense in which writing is dialogic; a matter of awakening counter voices in oneself and embarking on speech with them.” The two central characters in this lecture, namely Elizabeth Costello a middle aged Australian lady novelist and Emmanuel Egudu are therefore the two counter voices in this piece which is both a lecture as well as a segment in a short story, with a surprise element at the end of it. Elisabeth gives a speech on how the novel has no future while Emmanuel gives a very passionate speech on how novel in Africa is a part of not the written tradition but of the oral tradition. These two topics themselves show how different these two people are in their thoughts and beliefs, and how differently they view the world around them. They both meet each other on board the S.S Northern Lights, which was going to sail from Christchurch to Ross Ice Shelf and then to Cape town. They both are there on the ship as a part of the education and entertainment staff. Elizabeth gives a speech which has its tittle as ‘The Future of the Novel’. She begins her lecture by trying to shock her listeners by telling them that she is really not interested in the future of the novel as it does not exist as “The future is, after all, only a structure of hopes and expectations. It resides in the mind , it has no reality.” For her past is way more concrete than the future as the mankind has been able to weave together all the individual happenings into one concrete story and presented it to itself. Whereas as the future is concerned it is still something that has...
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