UNIVERSITE DE LA REUNION |
Waiting For the Barbarians |
J.M COETZEE |
[Tapez le résumé du document ici. Il s'agit généralement d'une courte synthèse du document. Tapez le résumé du document ici. Il s'agit généralement d'une courte synthèse du document.] |
After so many readings and so many reflections upon Coetzee’s Waiting For The Barbarians we shall agree that the novel cannotbe reduced to a mere historical illustration of South African troubles from whom it has disfranchised to become an allegory. An allegory which gives a symbolical representation of human history shaped by wars and oppression. As a consequence It is because of the author’s “allegiance with the discourse of the novels and not with the discourse of politics” that Waiting For The Barbarians hasuniversal scope and is so powerful.
It is the reason why language will be at the core of my presentation.
While discussing its power and limitations, first I will focus on the relation between language and Truth and then I will deal with the power of language itself when freed from oppression and fear.
1. Language and Truth
Language is the human ability to communicate his thoughts and feelingsthrough as system of linguistic signs or not linguistics such as voice , sounds , gestures or written symbols. All these components are to found in Waiting For The Barbarians. But more specifically I have chosen to discuss language in relation with truth and pain. In the novel we have in one hand the “devotees of Truth, doctors of interrogation” (page 9) and the beggar of Truth namely ColonelJoll, Mandel and The Magistrate. But to some extent both fail in their charge due to their blindness. To illustrate this idea I will refer to the two prisoners who are captured by newly-arrived Colonel Joll : the old man and the boy. Eventually after the elder’s death the boy who has been tortured makes a false confession whose veracity is questioned by the Magistrate.
“Listen,” I say. “They tellme you have made a confession. They say you have admitted that you and the old man and other men from your clan have stolen sheep and horses. You have said that the men of your clan are arming themselves, that in the spring you are all going to join in a great war on the Empire. Are you telling the truth ? Do you understand what this confession of yours will mean?”(p11)
Indeed in Waiting For TheBarbarians language and body in pain are deeply connected. Truth is extorted out of physical torture. Consequently the delivering of Truth is not achieved by a cute questioning but through violence and suffering. Colonel puts it clearly. “Pain is truth; all else is subject to doubt.” (p.5).
But what could be expected from a torturer, I mean what kind of language but violence and which truth ifnot a distorted one. As a result Truth both for the couple of the empire’s executives and the Magistrate remain unattainable. Why so? Because of fear and ignorance. Indeed nobody knows about the Barbarians and the threat they represent is only built upon rumors and prejudices hence the fear and resentment of the empire’s executives and the people in the settlement. So first it could be assumed thatlanguage is misleading people. In the same way through the use of violence language both abuses the interrogator and is misused by the victim. Moreover, the boy’s language dispossession and at the same the Magistrate reporting his confession disguise the truth.
For Colonel Joll it is only the language of pain which is meaningful and valid. But what is the true mission of Colonel Joll.? Is itonly to fulfill the Empire’s mission find the truth about a possible Barbarian invasion (still based on rumors)? .Or is this quest relevant of the Empire powerlessness and fear of the unknown ? .Violence then in this search for truth becomes a coercive means to assert the Empire’s domination and foster the idea of its invulnerability.
As for the Magistrate, his quest of Truth is vain because of...
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