A Gesture of Refusal: An Analysis of J.M. Coetzee’s Fictionalised Memoirs
Sienna Tori Barton
This dissertation analyses J. M. Coetzee’s trilogy of fictionalised memoir – Boyhood, Youth, and Summertime – with regard to the author’s self-representation within these works. Using the definitions of memoir given in the essays of Virginia Woolf and Robert McGill, this dissertation seeks to demonstrate how Coetzee subverts traditional expectations of autobiographical representation. I o er analysis of how he uses multiple self-constructions and third-person narration to obliterate his self in writing, arguing that Coetzee persuades the reader to determine which constructions are true to fact. On the basis of this analysis, I draw upon Dan P. McAdams’ theory of imagoes and Coetzee’s own critical writings, to investigate if there is a compelling truth among Coetzee’s different self-constructions, and how the reader might go about measuring its veracity. A Gesture of Refusal takes into consideration both Barthes’ and Coetzee’s definitions of authorship, and works to posit a style of reading memoir that adequately responds to Coetzee’s refusal of static authorial representation.