“To Know Where I Have Got To”: The Postmodern Chronotope in Beckett’s Malone Dies and Coetzee’s Foe
Degree Granting Department
Susan Mooney, Ph.D.
Sara Deats, Ph.D.
Hunt Hawkins, Ph.D.
M. M. Bakhtin, Samuel Beckett, J. M. Coetzee, Narrative, Postmodernism, Space, Time
This study addresses two works of fiction--Samuel Beckett's Malone Dies and J. M. Coetzee's Foe--and is separated into two chapters. The first chapter analyzes the indeterminate nature of postmodern space within the two novels as related to M. M. Bakhtin's idea of the chronotope found in his work The Dialogic Imagination. The second chapter addresses the self-reflexive creation of this postmodern space within each novel's hypodiegetic narratives and discussions of narrative creation within each respective diegetic narratives.
In each novel, characters as authors create or discuss "inner" narratives that reflect upon the way chronotopes are created in fiction and reveal problematic aspects of those chronotopes. This narrative creation produces what I call a "postmodern creative chronotope" that self-reflexively embraces indeterminacy at the same time that it critiques the elements that produce this indefinite relationship between time and space, a strategy that is especially postmodern. I contextualize the discussion by introducing theories of postmodernism, specifically those of Jean-François Lyotard and Linda Hutcheon. Lyotard's claim that postmodernism resists totalizing structures and Hutcheon's contention that it engages in a simultaneous complicity and critique inform the relationships between time and space in both Beckett's and Coetzee's text.
Additionally, theories of postmodern space contribute to the more specific discussion of the postmodern chronotopes in both novels. Spatial theorists like Edward Soja and Henri Lefebvre, among others, have attempted to reassert issues of space in what has been an ontological and epistemological framework that has prioritized time. Their reassertion of spatiality reconnects the two halves of the spatio-temporal framework of the chronotope in narrative. Beckett and Coetzee employ similar indeterminate and self-reflexive chronotopal strategies in their novels. Coetzee, however, inserts a number of global/political issues into his self-reflexive discussion of chronotopal creation and definition.
Scholar Commons Citation
McAllister, Brian J., "“To Know Where I Have Got To”: The Postmodern Chronotope in Beckett’s Malone Dies and Coetzee’s Foe" (2008). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.