Sunday, July 15, 2007

Foe 3

"... the history you write ... must not only tell the truth about us but please its readers too. Will you not bear it in mind, however, that my life is drearily suspended till your writing is done?"

Here, Susan Barton in Coetzee's Foe is writing to Daniel Foe (Defoe), asking him how much longer it will take him to turn the story of Barton, Crusoe, and Friday as castaways into a book.

To me, in my recent re-reading of Foe, it read like an anachronistic reference to Coetzee's most recent novel, Slow Man, in which the main character, Paul Rayment, turns out to be a character in a novel by Coetzee's figure Elizabeth Costello. In Slow Man, Costello finds her own life "drearily suspended" while she waits for the "slow man" to decide what to do with his life. In Foe, it is the character who finds her life "suspended" while she waits for the novelist to finish writing her story.

"He has turned his mind from us, I told myself, as easily as if we were two of his grenadiers in Flanders, forgetting that while his grenadiers falls into an enchanted sleep whenever he absents himself, Friday and I continue to eat and drink and fret."

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