Cinematic and Photographic Aesthetics in the Novels of J.M. Coetzee
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This thesis will examine the extensive cinematic and photographic visuality inscribed in the fictions of J. M. Coetzee. Coetzee's prose is inflected by a complex intermediality that references media aesthetics, practices, and genres, as well as creating linkages to specific film texts. This study will examine a range of Coetzee's writings but will pay particular attention to his second novel In the Heart of the Country (1977), which will be used as a lens to explore the visuality of Coetzee's earlier and later fictions. In the Heart of the Country, it will be shown, employs innovative film techniques that reflect the influence of 1960s avant-garde cinema, with strong ties to two films in particular: Andrzej Munk's Pasaerka (1963), and Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965). A comparative analysis of the novel with Coetzee's unrealised screenplay adaptation will be used to show that these cinematic influences extend to narrative experimentation and theoretical engagements with time. This will be followed by an intensive exploration of the cinematographic aesthetic in Life & Times of Michael K (1983). Coetzee's two Karoo novels, it will be shown, employ film effects to a degree that sets them apart from his other fictions, rendering these texts as cinematographic counterparts. The study of photography will then examine how Coetzee's theoretical understanding of the image enables him to utilise and extend the narrative power of the photographic medium in three ways: by inscribing important narratives within individual images, by employing the photograph as a method of characterisation, and by simulating the photographic processes of capture and development during key narrative events. Although this exploration of photography will reference several of Coetzee's fictions, analysis will focus predominantly on Dusklands (1974), In the Heart of the Country, and Slow Man (2005).