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Bufo_1st English classtest
[author: Sara Bufo - postdate: 2007-10-02]

 1st English Classtest


J.M.Coetzee's "Foe" is a postmodern rendering of Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe".  

In order to rewrite this classical novel, Mr Coetzee goes back and beyond the architext. As a matter of fact, he puts into question the idea of reality of Defoe's time (reality equals actions, events) by adding a fundamental deviation: a female narrator.

Since women are emotional and high-sensitive, reality isn't simply composed of matter of facts, but is strictly connected to emotions and feelings.

Furthermore, there is evidence that whereas men develop a linear way of thinking, women develop a webbed one. This gender-differenced way of thinking reflects the prevalent idea of what "to think" meant in Defoe's time and means nowadays. What's more, it is reflected in the structure of the two books. "Robinson Crusoe" follows a chronological order. On the contrary, Foe starts in medias res and has a much more complex structure (flashbacks, description of inner thoughts and so on).

Following a chronological order scheme, Daniel Defoe doesn't only represent men's way of thinking, but also the way the concept of "time" was conceived of in his time. Time was seen as a straight line. It went from the past to the recent and from the recent to today. No much effort was given to the bond which linked them.

On the contrary, nowadays' idea of "time" is much more complex. Past, present and reality interact, and one changes the other. The present is seen as a result of the past, and the past is changed by the present. The past isn't a reality on its own, but depends on who considers it. Sice it is a dynamic reality, "the past is not a given, not a natural actuality, but something that has to be written and rewritten".

Coetzee brilliantly rewrites the past of Defoe's time, and contextualizes it "in today".