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Coetzee’s Deconstruction of Robinson Crusoe in Foe

Author LiYanZi
Tutor JiangHongXin
School Hunan Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords J.M. Coetzee Foe Robinson Crusoe deconstruction colonialism discourse
Type Master's thesis
Year 2007
Downloads 839
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J.M. Coetzee’s Foe, published in 1986, is a postmodern revision of the 18th century English classic writer Daniel Defoe’s masterpiece Robinson Crusoe, is the postmodern version of the desert island story, and is Coetzee’s deconstruction of the island story in the rising period of capitalism in the three aspects of textual content, textual form and the colonial discourse.Chapter One analyzes Coetzee’s deconstruction of the textual content of Robinson Crusoe. The setting, plot, and character in the original work reflect faithfully the history of colonial expansion along with the rising of capitalism. In Coetzee’s rewriting, the island is no more the fertile land to be cultivated by the European civilization, but the spiritual prison of the postmodern people; the plot of Robinson Crusoe’s successful colonialization is taken place by the recording of Susan Barton’s efforts to tell the island story in vain; and the white male’s dominant center position in the novel is also taken place by the inferior female Susan and the black Friday, subverting the primary position of the white male in the patriarchal structure.Chapter Two is devoted to the deconstruction of the textual form of Robinson Crusoe, which reveals the author’s social ideal of the colonial expansion and the heroic individual. The canonical realistic fiction emphasizes the integrity of the plot, the logicality of the expression, and the order of sequences. In the pastiche work of Coetzee, the postmodern narrative strategies of pastiche, intertextuality, metafiction and the open ending combine to subvert this convention, focusing on the relations between truth and fiction, reality and narration, and history and text, as revealed by Susan’s quest to tell her own island experience truthfully.Chapter Three examines the deconstruction of the colonial discourse as reflected in Robinson Crusoe. By embedding the oppressed "voices" back into the patriarchal discourse power, Coetzee overturns in Foe this power structure enjoyed by Crusoe with his successful colonialization. In Coetzee’s Foe, the female and the black both struggles to maintain their discourse power in some way while that of the white male is enfeebled to some extent.Robinson Crusoe is a reflection of the ideology of the Enlightenment in the rising stage of capitalism. In the process of rewriting, Coetzee interrogates the grand narrative since the Enlightenment, posits a challenge to the universal hegemony, and expresses his human concern on the coexistence of all nations.

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