Embodied Ghosts: Coetzee’s Realist Modernism

  • Ana Falcato


Philosophers writing on J. M. Coetzee’s literary project have described it as “realist-modernist”. This is due to a combination of the prose’s stylistic features and more substantial issues developed in his novels. Coetzee’s prose is extremely sober, compact, dry, and overtly self-conscious; it contains his reflections on features of the prose itself (a technique strongly associated with the great names of literary modernism) and on the historic-literary conflict between realism and modernism in the modern novel. In this paper, I discuss the relevance of Coetzee’s use of the split page in Diary of a Bad Year, focusing on its role in undermining “ersatz ethical thought”, and develop a model for explaining Coetzee’s realist modernism. This model is situated within a broader, self-critical project that traces the significance of my analysis for the form of philosophical discourse.


J.M. Coetzee Diary of a bad year Dialectic of responsibility Realist modernism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Falcato
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Philosophy of Nova (IFILNOVA)New University of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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