[[ eBook ]] Waiting for the BarbariansAuthor J.M. Coetzee – Autowiringdiagram.co

For Decades The Magistrate Has Been A Loyal Servant Of The Empire, Running The Affairs Of A Tiny Frontier Settlement And Ignoring The Impending War With The Barbarians When Interrogation Experts Arrive, However, He Witnesses The Empire S Cruel And Unjust Treatment Of Prisoners Of War Jolted Into Sympathy For Their Victims, He Commits A Quixotic Act Of Rebellion That Brands Him An Enemy Of The StateJ M Coetzee S Prize Winning Novel Is A Startling Allegory Of The War Between Oppressor And Oppressed The Magistrate Is Not Simply A Man Living Through A Crisis Of Conscience In An Obscure Place In Remote Times His Situation Is That Of All Men Living In Unbearable Complicity With Regimes That Ignore Justice And Decency

10 thoughts on “Waiting for the Barbarians

  1. says:

    It is impossible to read this and not be reminded of an almost genetically programmed inferiority complex, the burden of history only the descendants of the colonized have to bear Despite those smug pronouncements of the 21st century being an era of a fair and equitable world and the hard battles won in favor of interracial harmony, there s the fact of your friend barely suppressing a squawk of alarm when you express your admiration for Idris Elba no female I am acquainted with in real life has learned to wean herself away from the fixation with a white complexion Scrub your skin raw till it bleeds but never fall behind in the race to make it whiter because that s the color the world approves of You can fawn over Simon Baker s blonde, light eyed glory but not over Elba s hulking, ruggedly handsome perfection heaven forbid you prefer the latter over the former The 21st century is yet to cast its magic spell over the standards of physical beauty So if I, a citizen of a purportedly newer and better social order, can still feel the rippling aftershocks of the catastrophe called Imperialism from across the barrier of decades and centuries, what would a man like Coetzee have experienced, stranded in the middle of the suffocating sociopolitical stasis of Apartheid Moral anguish A bitter impotence A premonitory sense of doom Anger Fiction, I believe, must have been his preferred method of exorcizing these demons And purge these emotions he did through the composition of this slim little novel which can be aptly described as a most heart wrenching lament on the condition of the world of his times It may be true that the world as it stands is no illusion, no evil dream of a night It may be that we wake up to it ineluctably, that we can neither forget it nor dispense with it But I find it as hard as ever to believe that the end is near. An anonymous magistrate stationed at a farthest corner of an unspecified Empire witnesses the death throes of its reign while recovering his own humanity at the loss of his position of power and influence In the beginning he is convinced of his righteousness as a dutiful servant of the Empire who oversees the welfare his subjects with moderation but with the arrival of a bluntly tyrannical figure of authority whose methods differ vastly from his, he begins to question his own collusion in the maintenance of an unnatural order Unable to stand as a mute witness to the horrendous abuse inflicted on innocent natives on the false suspicion of their complicity with barbarians or armed rebels who threaten the stability of the Empire, he clashes with the aforementioned administrator who undoubtedly represents the true face of any oppressor when divested of its sheen of sophistication And thus begins his fall from grace culminating in a kind of metaphorical rebirth through extreme physical abasement I was the lie that Empire tells itself when times are easy, he the truth that Empire tells when harsh winds blow Two sides of imperial rule, no , no less. In the fashion of Coetzee s signature didacticism the novel is rife with allegorical implications but as much as these can be deeply thought provoking, sometimes they also resemble conveniently inserted contrivances Like the pseudo erotic entanglement that develops between the ageing magistrate and a young barbarian girl who is left maimed and partially blinded after a violent bout of interrogation is amply demonstrative of a colonizer colonized arrangement the one bereft of power to drive the relationship in a desired direction becomes dependent on the volatile benevolence of the other party Or the mounting paranoia about the anticipated attack of the barbarians who, much like Godot, fail to appear and remain a myth till the end although emerging as the key factor hastening the impending demise of Empire All the layers of meaning and symbolism could send a dedicated literature student into paroxysms of pleasure no doubt With the buck before me suspended in immobility, there seems to be time for all things, time even to turn my gaze inward and see what it is that has robbed the hunt of its savour the sense that this has become no longer a morning s hunting but an occasion on which either the proud ram bleeds to death on the ice or the old hunter misses his aim that for the duration of its frozen moment the stars are locked in a configuration in which events are not themselves but stand for other things. Wary as I am of Coetzee s often stilted world building, my 5 star rating was an inevitability given my obsession with narratives containing a discernible vein of literary activism in harmony with notions of social justice Here he also seems to have successfully reined in his pesky habit of turning his characters into sockpuppet ish mouthpieces to tout his own passage length worldviews The narrator does occasionally morph into a pedagogue but his inner monologues never seem out of place given his unique circumstances Besides it takes courage to acknowledge the fact of white man s guilt in a world which is yet to discard the rhetoric of white man s burden.

  2. says:


  3. says:

    They do not care that once the ground is cleared the wind begins to eat at the soil and the desert advances Thus the expeditionary force against the barbarians prepared for its campaign, ravaging the earth, wasting our patrimony Is this my 5th one read THE quintessential Coetzee I may or not be nodding my head Earlier than Life and Times of Micheal K , it is here that we see the true beginnings of Coetzee s motifs, as well as the accomplished writer s poetics A man whose fortune is reversed a war torn stage a modern Holocaust sadistic regimes Waiting for the Barbarians is the Schindler legend reproduced it evokes the same tension of living lives in a death camp, all the while keeping the First Person POV pulsating with life, afire, though always dwindling between morality and evil, between life and death.Not so strange that of Waiting for the Barbarians Graham Greene wrote A remarkable original book His spectacular The Quiet American , also a novella robust with pathos and adventure, is emulated here as the Magistrate, torn apart over his conscience and his duties to the Empire, finds solace in one of the enemy Because the voice of the protagonist is so damn credible, full of contradictions and deep thoughts it is that verisimilitude is fully achieved We get both a man in complete Hamlet gear perhaps as ill equipped as Coetzee s Slow Man, or his doe eyed, hare lipped Michael K to the ravishes of a deeply apathetic world and a lesson in far flung, private, hidden history.It s pretty obvious to see why this deserves a very coveted place in the canon, in literature Here a prime example of Post Colonial Lit And also, let s not forget, a prime reason Coetzee got his Nobel Prize.

  4. says:

    After the shock of the recent Paris attacks I don t know precisely why it made me recall Coetzee s Waiting for the Barbarians that I read a few years ago Yesterday it was a terrorist attack and perhaps no direct result of imperialism, but maybe the fears that the recent events provoked in me are somewhat akin to those suffered in this tiny frontier settlement with the arrival of interrogation experts Today we don t know how to defend ourselves against such tragedy, how can we escape or where next will it hit As we feel its aftershocks how can we not taste the same bitter impotence of those stranded in other periods of darkness that derive simply from the worst parts of human nature or how can we not feel a premonition of doom that there is not much that can be done Waiting for the Barbarians is superb and a relatively easy book to read despite its deeper meanings Coetzee states simply Pain is truth all else is subject to doubt He is probably right There is much in this brief 150 pages book You think you know what is just and what is not I understand We all think we know I had no doubt, myself, then, that at each moment each one of us, man, woman, child, perhaps even the poor old horse turning the mill wheel, knew what was just all creatures come into the world bringing with them the memory of justice But we live in a world of laws, I said to my poor prisoner, a world of the second best There is nothing we can do about that We are fallen creatures All we can do is to uphold the laws, all of us, without allowing the memory of justice to fade Not much that I can say Just read Waiting for the Barbarians, and appreciate Coetzee at his best.____

  5. says:

    287 Waiting For The Barbarians, J.M CoetzeeWaiting for the Barbarians is a novel by the South African born Nobel laureate J M Coetzee First published in 1980 The story is narrated in the first person by the unnamed magistrate of a small colonial town that exists as the territorial frontier of the Empire The Magistrate s rather peaceful existence comes to an end with the Empire s declaration of a state of emergency and with the deployment of the Third Bureau special forces of the Empire due to rumours that the area s indigenous people, called barbarians by the colonists, might be preparing to attack the town Consequently, the Third Bureau conducts an expedition into the land beyond the frontier Led by a sinister Colonel Joll, the Third Bureau captures a number of barbarians, brings them back to town, tortures them, kills some of them, and leaves for the capital in order to prepare a larger campaign.In the meantime, the Magistrate begins to question the legitimacy of imperialism and personally nurses a barbarian girl who was left crippled and partly blinded by the Third Bureau s torturers The Magistrate has an intimate yet uncertain relationship with the girl Eventually, he decides to take her back to her people After a life threatening trip through the barren land, during which they have sex, he succeeds in returning her finally asking, to no avail, if she will stay with him and returns to his own town The Third Bureau soldiers have reappeared there and now arrest the Magistrate for having deserted his post and consorting with the enemy Without much possibility of a trial during such emergency circumstances, the Magistrate remains in a locked cellar for an indefinite period, experiencing for the first time a near complete lack of basic freedoms He finally acquires a key that allows him to leave the makeshift jail, but finds that he has no place to escape to and only spends his time outside the jail scavenging for scraps of food 2009 1383 260 20 1382 180 9649542027 1383 252 9648554013 1385 226 9642647087 1384 206 964862433 1386 232 9789643059378

  6. says:

    KAFKA TRA I BOSCIMANIQual compito della letteratura, rassicurarci o metterci paura Con questo libro, Coetzee risponde senza dubbio adottando la seconda ipotesi.Accogliendo i barbariElizabeth Costello, nel romanzo omonimo, si descrive cos , come se dovesse pubblicare un annuncio personale Divorziata, bianca, altezza 1.70, sessantenne, in corsa verso la morte che le corre incontro allo stesso passo, cerco dio, immortale, in qualunque forma terrestre, per fini per i quali non bastano le parole.Coetzee ormai settantenne, credo sia pi alto di 1.70, se sia divorziato non saprei, ma immagino di s e soprattutto, suppongo che quale sia la risposta, lui la conservi nascosta, lontano dai riflettori e dalla curiosit pubblica A parte queste differenze, penso, che le parole di Elizabeth Costello descrivano a meraviglia lo stesso Coetzee.Aspettando i tartari, il deserto dei barbari

  7. says:

    Pain is truth Maybe, according to the obscure man in power who thinks people lie until they are broken by torture However, the truth he gets is not factual truth, but rather psychological nakedness And it is not the pain, but the fear that guides the narrative Fear of pain, fear of change, fear of the Barbarians Each dictatorship built on injustice needs Barbarians for protection Or fear of barbarians, to be precise As long as they lurk in the desert, brutal laws seem to make sense.The need for a wall is an effective way of staying in power so than the alternative of actually having a wall, or of building a relationship to the Barbarians.Apart from La Peste and 1984 this probably is the scariest description of the human condition I know It doesn t need a realistic setting to be true Fear and pain are there already The rest is doubtful in any case.

  8. says:

    I m going to write two Waiting for the Barbarians reviews The first, in italics, is the one that someone seems to expect, the second is the one I would normally write Take your pick Waiting for the Barbarians always reminds me of this time I was on a cross country flight from DC to Oakland This 400 pound Samoan guy in a black silk suit sat across the aisle from me He feverishly wrote in his journal the entire flight, whispering things like holy fuck and yes, shit, I ve got it to himself over and over again until the flight attendants asked him to stop before they had to kick his fat ass off the plane for scaring the shit out of the old ladies who thought he might be a terrorist and didn t realize his sumo knot wasn t the same as a turban By the way, a Samoan once almost sodomized me it was an honest misunderstanding in the Thai embassy in Paris I d tell you about that but I don t want to get too far away from the book Finally curiosity got the best of me and I leaned over and asked the Samoan what he was doing He looked me up and down, well, as much up and down as you can look while the object of your attention is sitting in an airline seat, and said, Fuck you I said, Fuck you back, asshole Who do you think you are, Joll or Mandel He froze and responded, What the fuck did you say So I repeated what I said Then he said, So you ve read Waiting for the Barbarians What did you think I told him I thought it was pretty good He said, Fuck that pretty good shit I wrote my dissertation on that book I immediately regretted asking because everybody knows that anybody talking about his dissertation is boring as shit, but I had just pissed, and I couldn t pretend I had to go again, so I politely listened He continued, Remember that show called Designing Women That one with Delta Burke, the lady who married that guy from the show where he drove around in an RV and helped people Listen Designing Women IS Waiting for the Barbarians Delta Burke, or Suzanne Sugarbaker, is the Empire And remember her sister Julia Sugarbaker The one Dixie Carter played She was the magistrate, the one they put in jail Julia was always trying to be reasonable and keep the peace and Suzanne kept messing things up Holy fuck, my dissertation chair creamed his pants when he read my final draft He said it was the best literary analysis he had ever read, especially since I focused on the temporal nature of government and the ever shifting role of fortune by focusing on the way that Charlene was first played by Jean Smart and then replaced by Jan Hooks I was in awe Man, I used to watch that show all the time I think my first masturbatory fantasies were about Delta Burke I still like big girls I m with ya, brother We high fived across the aisle and he went back to writing He never told me what he was writing about.Ok, here s my real review Waiting for the Barbarians was my introduction to Coetzee, and I m glad for goodreaders for pointing me in the direction of a guy who can flat out write Now, there are a slew of good reviews of this book Tadpole s, Donald s so rather than copy my esteemed peers I ll add a few elements I felt were particularly important First, I admire Coetzee s handling of the psychology of isolation and persecution At no point does the author paint the magistrate as a noble hero a lesser author, I think, would have played up that angle to the text s detriment The passages about the magistrate alone, in the granary, are quite powerful Second, I admire the author s description of the breakdown of the body He does a fantastic job of describing how quickly one can fade while at the same time acknowledging the toughness of the desire to keep breathing I had a hard time, and this is my fault, with the desire to overlay South African history about which I know next to nothing over my interpretation of the text My gut tells me that Coetzee wanted to transcend South African, and even governmental, overtones and delve deeper into the darkest parts of human nature He does a fine job in a quick 150 pages Maybe I ll read Disgrace in the future as well.

  9. says:

    , , , , , ,

  10. says:

    Coetzee has written a great little novel for us all You should read it A novel to be read by every generation An allegory of every empire including those past, those current and those to come Empires need enemies in order to maintain control Hence the infidels, savages, Jews, Muslims, barbarians and terrorists that we civilized empires constantly hold up as threats to our very existence And how do empires respond to real or imagined barbarians By behaving like barbarians, by becoming barbarians Think Guantanamo As an executive with Canada s refugee program, I was once given access to a rather lengthy document provided as a guideline to US officials involved questioning captured suspected enemies It was a guideline to being barbarian Guantanamo still exists Indeed, when reading the book, I had to go back and check the publication date 1980 to assure myself that it was not written as a condemnation of G.W.Bush and his War on Terror Of course it isn t I suspect that it has a lot to do with South Africa and it s horror of apartheid Here the memory of Steve Biko and his fellow apartheid colleagues comes to mind Basically, this story is about the wrongness of empire Empire leads to a need for them and us , usually in the form of racism, the lowest humanity can go This in turn leads to the adoption of methods for which the enemy is condemned Inhumanity breeds inhumanity Those who support the empire, such as the Magistrate in this story, are often blissfully, perhaps willingly, unaware of the evil of the empire They support the empire unquestionably until, perhaps, their humanity comes through One can always hope Were the Barbarians really a threat It is doubtful They only appear as prisoners who are subsequently tortured The Empire needs enemies Think of the British Empire They had constant little wars against anyone who spoke against them in the colonies The mess and the tactics we see in Syria, Iraq, Egypt etc today all copy those of the British Empire The American Empire carries that British legacy forward Indeed, think of an American president since the end of World War II who has not sent US forces to fight the undemocratic barbarians out there We can give Jimmy Carter a break here It s time to admit that empire leads to evil Even the best of us get sucked into the vortex of this evil Coetzee has given us a strong message A copy should come in every newborn s gift package A great way to learn to read.