When one embarks on reading any of the novels J.M. Coetzee has produced over the last twenty-five years, one is struck by the prominence that problematics relating to language and the way language affects the human mind assume in the text. In particular - although each novel is obviously highly defined in itself - in all his texts the author sets out to investigate the role language plays in the constitution of identity (whether of an individual, a nation or a race). Because of the centrality this aspect assumes in Coetzee’s work, my article centres on the way each novel stages the confrontation between the “I”, the “You” and the “Other” - the basis of the achievement of identity. As I will argue, in fact, in all his novels Coetzee stages precisely the struggle which - just like the Oedipal father who must have his language recognised as the lawful language of authority - each individual enacts in the attempt to be recognised by Others and achieve an identity.
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