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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.66, No.2, 305 ~ 328, 2020
Beyond Personal Tragedy and Psychic Wound: A Poetics of Pain and Suffering in J. M. Coetzee’s The Master of Petersburg
왕은철 Eunchull Wang
J. M. Coetzee’s The Master of Petersburg can be read as a long, sustained “work of mourning” in which the fictional Dostoevsky tries to come to terms with his stepson’s death. Similarly it can be read as Coetzee’s own effort to mourn his own son’s tragic death. What Dostoevsky goes though in the narrative is then somewhat similar to what Coetzee went through when his son died. The novel shows how Coetzee writes about himself in the fictionalized Dostoevsky. At the same time, Coetzee tries to go beyond his traumatic experience and extend the narrative to a point in which he could explore the political, cultural, spiritual condition of Dostoevsky’s Russia as well as of his native South Africa. This paper argues that Coetzee vacillates between a need to mourn his son and a need to go beyond his personal tragedy and strive for, to use T.S. Eliot’s phrase, “a continual extinction of personality.” In between lies Coetzee’s painful loss of his son. As such Coetzee writes himself in and out. The novel is a curious amalgam in which Coetzee both succeeds and fails to bury his own self beneath the superstructure of the narrative. The novel painfully testifies to what he means by saying that “All writing is storytelling, all writing is autobiography.” It is a poetics of pain and suffering that informs and permeates every aspect of Coetzee’s emotionally laden text. Pain writes itself into and out of the text.
Key Words
쿳시, 『페테르부르크의 대가』, 『악령』, 프로이트, 애도작업, Coetzee, The Master of Petersburg, Dostoevsky, The Possessed, Freud
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