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Unhomed and Unstrung: Reflections on Hospitality in J.M. Coetzee's Slow Man
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English. (Literature)
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay is concerned with the workings of hospitality towards the other in J.M. Coetzee’s novel Slow Man. The reading proposed here is that the bicycle accident which befalls protagonist Paul Rayment on the novel’s first page, costing him his leg and a large portion of his previous vitality, renders him momentarily “unstrung,” understood here as a state of passive openness to the unknown, of absolute  responsiveness or hospitality towards the other. The other is here defined as that which is—more or less—ungraspable in the self, in another being or in an unexpected event. A key argument put forward is that the accident also accentuates Paul Rayment’s enduring sense of unhomedness, his alienation in relation to body, language and self. The desire for home or belonging with other people brings about deliberate acts of hospitality on his part, as he tries to find a home for himself by inviting others in. The essay examines how these two strands of ideas—being unhomed and being unstrung—intersect in moments of hospitality in Slow Man, and reflects on how hospitality can and cannot succeed in creating a home for the subject. Theories of hospitality by Jacques Derrida, Derek Attridge and Mike Marais are discussed and serve as inspiration to the reading.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 43 p.
Keyword [en]
hospitality, Coetzee, Slow Man, Derrida, Attridge, Marais
National Category
Humanities General Literature Studies Specific Literatures
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-77702OAI: diva2:535262
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2012-12-13 Created: 2012-06-19 Last updated: 2012-12-13Bibliographically approved

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