Original Research

Beckett and Coetzee: alternative identities

N.C.T. Meihuizen
Literator | Vol 32, No 1 | a1 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v32i1.1 | © 2011 N.C.T. Meihuizen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2011 | Published: 22 June 2011

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N.C.T. Meihuizen, Department of English, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa

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Abstract

Coetzee’s scholarly interest in Beckett, and his aesthetic interest in the same (which carries a strong measure of readily acknowledged influence), diverge in the case Coetzee presents in a recent mini-biography cum autobiography, “Samuel Beckett in Cape Town – an imaginary history” (Coetzee, 2006:74-77), where both he and Beckett are imagined as having experienced alternative pasts in South Africa. Considering this acknowledged influence, which Coetzee (1992b) mentions in an interview with David Attwell in “Doubling the point”, one might assume that it followed an initial scholarly interest in Beckett(Coetzee’s Ph.D. was on Beckett, and was completed years before he himself became a creative writer). However, in the case at hand this causal sequence is broken, because the doubled Coetzee, though under the spell of Beckett’s prose, does not wish to do scholarly work on the doubled Beckett. What is it about Coetzee’s imagined Beckett that has this effect on him? And why is it that Coetzee engages in such metafictional blurred doubling when it comes to himself and Beckett? This article attempts to shed light on the problems that surround Coetzee’s crafted interaction between authors who are also (in this rather odd context) characters.

Keywords

Antigrammar; Autobiography; Beckett; Samuel; Defamiliarisation

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