An interruptive gesture: J.M. Coetzee's Landscape with Rowers (2004)
Van Schalkwyk, Phillippus Lodewikus
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In Landscape with Rowers: Poetry From the Netherlands, J. M. has collected his own translations of poetic cycles and sequences by six poets: Gerrit Achterberg, Sybren Polet, Hugo Claus, Cees Nooteboom, Hans Faverey, and Rutger Kopland. I argue that with this rather anachronistic collection of poems, all predating the 1990s and to a greater or lesser extent associated with the artistic drive during the third and part of the fourth quarter of the twentieth century toward exploring more ‘objective’ compositional methods and in several instances also the ‘hyperreal’, Coetzee has not attempted to introduce the world to a representative set of modern Dutch poems — much rather, he has utilized a very specific selection of poems from a small continental literature to produce, in Peircean terms, a higher translation or, to borrow St-Pierre’s (2007: 6) formulation in In Translation — Reflections, Refractions, Transformations, ‘a new reading, a new writing’. Drawing on, amongst others, Amit Pinchevski’s (2005) By Way of Interruption and Slavoj Z ˇizˇek’s Welcome to the Desert of the Real, I show that Landscape with Rowers can be seen as a conscious and conscientious interruption tailor made for the decade(s) following the historic interruption that 9/11 constituted.
- Faculty of Humanities