Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Afrikaans Gothic

In the Heart of the Country can be considered Afrikaans Gothic.  This is Coetzee’s  Titus Andronicus, full of blood, fear and violence.  Coetzee goes all out to present a grim and mannerist vision of life in the South African heartland.  

The novel is narrated through the voice of a single unmarried woman, and her interactions with her domineering father, her house servants, all of them colored (i.e. of mixed African and White ancestry). Coetzee does not pull any stops.  It is all here: miscegenation, madness, rape, murder, colonial excesses, abuse of corpses, to name but a few.

While not as subtle as Coetzee’s later works, In the Heart of the Country is an excellent primer for what he would do later with a lighter but no less effective touch. 

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