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J. M. Coetzee and modernist cinema: Viewing the legacy of modernism through film
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 22:10 authored by Guy Stephen Webster
This thesis considers the purpose of film in the works of South African author, J.M. Coetzee. Specifically, it aims to illustrate the influence of the films and practices synonymous with modernist cinema for Coetzee's writing practice. Using Youth (2002), The Life and Times of Michael K (1983), and the 1981 screenplay adaptation of In the Heart of the Country (1977), this thesis argues that film helped Coetzee grapple with, and reinterpret the legacy of modernism in his own writing. It focuses on Coetzee's admiration for cinematic modernism, especially in the films of Jean-Luc Godard, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alain Robbe-Grillet, and considers the effect of Coetzee's South African context on the way he re-interprets cinematic modernism in his writing. In doing so, this thesis will argue that Coetzee's relationship with cinematic modernism extends our understanding of the tension that exists between his writing practices and the realist modes of practice valued by apartheid-era South Africa. It consequently also highlights the importance of considering the continuing exchange between cinematic and literary modernism in theorising the legacy of modernism.