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postgraduate thesis: Problematizing allegory and interpretation in J. M. Coetzee's The childhood of Jesus

TitleProblematizing allegory and interpretation in J. M. Coetzee's The childhood of Jesus
Authors
Issue Date2015
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Tay, K. K. J. [鄭鏡琨]. (2015). Problematizing allegory and interpretation in J. M. Coetzee's The childhood of Jesus. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5611504
AbstractThis dissertation addresses problems of reading and interpretation presented by J. M. Coetzee’s latest novel, The Childhood of Jesus. Despite his celebrated career as a writer of difficult texts, the novel has drawn surprisingly heated criticism from readers who described it as obfuscating, plotless and pseudo-allegorical. The novel indeed challenges conventions about how we should read. I argue that the novel’s resistance to interpretation is due to Coetzee’s strategies that challenge our expectations about stable contexts of reading. I explore how this effect is achieved through three key literary techniques: allegory, intertextuality and metafiction. Coetzee’s use of unstable allegories blurs distinctions between allegory and allegoresis. When we are unable to differentiate between the author’s allegorical intent and the reader’s desire to read allegorically, this undermines the closure that allegory as a reading strategy provides. Through metafiction, intertextuality and the adaptation of Don Quixote, the novel challenges the authority traditionally given the author and raises issues about how we resolve ambiguity in a text. By staging metafictional acts of reading and interpretation, Coetzee underscores how writing is subject to différance and dissemination, and interpretations are thus contingent on chosen contexts of reading that cannot be definitive. The novel as a whole could be read as an allegory about interpretation that advocates an open and unassuming approach towards reading by resisting singular interpretations that seek to master the text.
DegreeMaster of Arts
Dept/ProgramLiterary and Cultural Studies
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/221306

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorTay, Kiah Koon, Jeremy-
dc.contributor.author鄭鏡琨-
dc.date.accessioned2015-11-17T23:11:52Z-
dc.date.available2015-11-17T23:11:52Z-
dc.date.issued2015-
dc.identifier.citationTay, K. K. J. [鄭鏡琨]. (2015). Problematizing allegory and interpretation in J. M. Coetzee's The childhood of Jesus. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5611504-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/221306-
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation addresses problems of reading and interpretation presented by J. M. Coetzee’s latest novel, The Childhood of Jesus. Despite his celebrated career as a writer of difficult texts, the novel has drawn surprisingly heated criticism from readers who described it as obfuscating, plotless and pseudo-allegorical. The novel indeed challenges conventions about how we should read. I argue that the novel’s resistance to interpretation is due to Coetzee’s strategies that challenge our expectations about stable contexts of reading. I explore how this effect is achieved through three key literary techniques: allegory, intertextuality and metafiction. Coetzee’s use of unstable allegories blurs distinctions between allegory and allegoresis. When we are unable to differentiate between the author’s allegorical intent and the reader’s desire to read allegorically, this undermines the closure that allegory as a reading strategy provides. Through metafiction, intertextuality and the adaptation of Don Quixote, the novel challenges the authority traditionally given the author and raises issues about how we resolve ambiguity in a text. By staging metafictional acts of reading and interpretation, Coetzee underscores how writing is subject to différance and dissemination, and interpretations are thus contingent on chosen contexts of reading that cannot be definitive. The novel as a whole could be read as an allegory about interpretation that advocates an open and unassuming approach towards reading by resisting singular interpretations that seek to master the text.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.titleProblematizing allegory and interpretation in J. M. Coetzee's The childhood of Jesus-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5611504-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Arts-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineLiterary and Cultural Studies-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-

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