Winter 1993 • Vol. XV No. 1 Nonfiction |

The Mark of Empire: Writing, History, and Torture in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians

We will not follow the Germans back into their forest, nor investigate the origin of their migrations. Those forests of theirs have always passed for the abodes of free peoples . . . but we must not on this account regard such a state of barbarism as an exalted one, or fall into some such error as Rousseau's, who represents the condition of the American savages as one in which man is in possession of true freedom. Certainly there is an immense amount of misfortune and sorrow of which the savage knows nothing; but this is a merely negative advantage, while freedom is essentially positive. It is only the blessings conferred by affirmative freedom that are regarded as such in the highest grade of consciousness. HEGEL, The Philosophy of History For nearly two decades, J. M. Coetzee has quietly produced a series of novels and critical essays whose philosophic depth and stylistic brilliance rival that of his two great literary masters, Kafka and Beckett. South Africa, his native

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