Belonging to the Human and Non-human Animals in J. M. Coetzee's Recent Novels. Articles uri icon



publication date

  • February 2018


  • 1


  • 6

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2045-5224


  • This essay places Coetzee's writing within the context of the recent posthumanist debate concerning the distinction between human and non-human animals, whose contributors include Giorgio Agamben, Rosi Braidotti, Jacques Derrida and Cary Wolfe. I propose a reading of the figures of animals in Coetzee's recent novels, The Childhood of Jesus (2013) and The Schooldays of Jesus (2016), which contributes to the questioning of the divide, particularly with reference to such markers of the limits between humanity and animality as taste. Coetzee's characters from his recent novels are an exercise in the adoption of non-anthropocentric positions: they transgress and contest the borders between the human and the non-human configured as angelic, divine, animalistic, or non-material. Coetzee's recent novels question the divide and suggest new ways of understanding the human&-non-human continuum. By rejecting binary divisions between human and non-human animals, Coetzee's prose illustrates the idea of entanglement, in which light his characters cannot be perceived as traditional agents endowed with unified identities, but rather, must be seen as radically entangled, with matter and meaning inextricably connected.