Drawing the Divine Seed

India, Alterity and the Real in the Works of J.M. Coetzee

In: Matatu


This article connects the disparate references to India in Coetzee’s writings to his core debate on ethics. Coetzee’s novels are in dialogue with the Western philosophical and psychoanalytic tradition that privileges an intersubjective reality over the reality of the objective world. This tradition sees the common Indians, and the natives of colonies, indifferently poised at the threshold of humanity. Being barely human these indifferent multitudes are seen as dispensable objects devoid of ethical claims. Coetzee’s metafiction highlights the ways in which the intersubjective community uses language and signification to produce a closed consensual reality against the open truths of the objective world. Coetzee’s snippets from India interweave the reality of a world oblivious to Western sentience and cognition. His efforts at pulling the obscure into the divine light of the rational community becomes comparable to drawing the divine seed to fertilize an abandoned and banished version of the Eternal Feminine.

  • Coetzee J.M. Dusklands (London: Penguin 1983).

  • Coetzee J.M. Master of Petersburg (London: Vintage 1994).

  • Coetzee J.M. Boyhood (London: Vintage 1998).

  • Coetzee J.M. Disgrace (London: Penguin 2000).

  • Coetzee J.M. Youth (London: Vintage 2003).

  • Coetzee J.M. Elizabeth Costello (London: Vintage 2004).

  • Coetzee J.M. & Paul Auster. Here and Now: Letters (2008–2011) (London: Vintage 2014).

  • de Kesel Marc. Eros and Ethics: Reading Jacques Lacan’s Seminar VII trans. Sigi Jöttkandt (New York: SUNY Press 2009).

  • Fink Bruce. The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance (New Jersey: Princeton University Press 2005).

  • Kristeva Julia. Revolution in Poetic Language (New York: Columbia University Press 1984).

  • Lacan Jacques. The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: (1954–1955) trans. Sylvana Tomaselli (New York: Norton 1988).

  • Lacan Jacques. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton 1978).

  • Scarry Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (New York: Oxford University Press 1985).

  • Walker Michelle Boulous. Philosophy and the Maternal Body: Reading Silence (London: Routledge 1998).

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 44 44 6
Full Text Views 2 2 0
PDF Downloads 0 0 0