The Power of Non-Verbal Communication in J. M. Coetzee’s Foe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBN

Abstract

J. M. Coetzee’s Foe (1986) has been heralded as a record of the trajectory of the English novel and as a postcolonial retelling of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719). It is also a testament both to the power and, ironically, to the latent limitations of language - language as an expression of truth and as the antithesis of silence. With the sleight-of-hand of a magician, the wordsmith is seen as being divinely inspired. Logocentrism is considered as a challenge to phonocentrism. However, Friday’s truth is witnessed through non-verbal communication via the medium of the performing arts, in its variety of forms. In ascertaining his true identity, the reader is taken on a journey through the pain of the untold history of slavery and subjugation in the hope of reaching a post-colonial utopia. The divine dimensions associated with Friday - ensnared in a mesh of words - are revealed in the magic of his respectful, Sangha-, or Buddhist–like rituals. Acting as a subaltern, he resorts to mimicry to express defiance of the Other as a muted form of protest. Highly receptive to the dynamic, liberating influence of music and dance, Friday spins - in his dervish-like way - not a tale, but an unnamed jig akin to the sixteenth-century, African Capoeira; to the cathartic, Trinidadian Calypso; and to the venerating, Buddhist Circumbulation. Indeed, it is Friday’s non-verbal communicative abilities which empower him to speak his mind – not through words, but through “the slow stream” of his uninterrupted, syllabic, aquatic messages.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationECAH2013 IAFOR: Official Conference Proceedings
Place of PublicationOsaka, Japan
PublisherIAFOR
Pages346-357
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013
EventECAH2013 IAFOR: Official Conference Proceedings - Brighton, 18-21 July, 2013
Duration: 1 Oct 2013 → …

Publication series

NameECAH IAFOR Conference Proceedings

Conference

ConferenceECAH2013 IAFOR: Official Conference Proceedings
Period1/10/13 → …

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  • Cite this

    Foxcroft, N. (2013). The Power of Non-Verbal Communication in J. M. Coetzee’s Foe. In ECAH2013 IAFOR: Official Conference Proceedings (pp. 346-357). (ECAH IAFOR Conference Proceedings). IAFOR. http://iafor.org/Proceedings/ECAH/ECAH2013_proceedings.pdf