First edition (South Africa)
|Author||J. M. Coetzee|
|Publisher||Ravan Press (SA)
Secker and Warburg (UK)
Dusklands (1974) is the first novel by J. M. Coetzee, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is a presentation and critique of the violence inherent in the colonialist and imperialist mentality of the Western world.
The novel actually consists of two separate stories. The first one, "The Vietnam Project", relates the gradual descent into insanity of its protagonist Eugene Dawn. Eugene works for a U.S. government agency responsible for the psychological warfare in the Vietnam War. However, his work on mythography and psychological operations is taking a heavy toll on him; his fall culminates in him stabbing his own son, Martin.
The second story, "The Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee", which takes place in the 18th century, is an account of a hunting expedition into the then "unexplored" interior of South Africa. After crossing the Orange River, Jacobus meets with a Namaqua tribe to trade, but suddenly falls ill. He is attended to by the tribe and gradually recovers, only to get into a fight for which he is expelled from the village. His last slave dying on the way home, he returns alone and later organizes a punitive expedition against the Namaqua. The narrative concludes with his execution of the slaves that deserted him on the previous journey and the massacre of the tribe.
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