Autofiction and Fictionalisation: J.M. Coetzee’s Novels and Boyhood

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Neimneh, Shadi
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This article tackles the issue of autobiography or self-representation in J.M. Coetzee's fictionalised memoir Boyhood in terms of the useful insights of fictionalised autobiographies to the study of fictional ones by the same author. I seek to resolve the tension between fiction and autobiography in the aforementioned works. My goal is showing how a fictionalised memoir with autobiographical value like Boyhood is a helpful tool for understanding and engaging Coetzee’s other fictions. Therefore, and using textual evidence, I draw parallels between Boyhood and other representative novels from Coetzee’s oeuvre like Life and Times of Michael K, Disgrace, and Waiting for the Barbarians. Among the intertextual clues I discuss are notions like desire/the body, animals, and farm life. The study concludes by recommending an intra-comparative approach to Coetzee’s works whereby we gain so much by juxtaposing one Coetzee work against another in a process of mirroring or doubling. This article is significant because it elaborates an intertextual model for reading Coetzee’s fictionalised autobiographies and ‘autobiographical’ novels against each other, and away from the muddle of existing theory and Coetzee criticism. The autobiographical value of Coetzee’s fiction is worth analysis, and genre distinctions between autobiographies disguised/fictionalised as novels (autofictions) and novels with autobiographical import are flimsy.
AutoFiction, Autobiographical Memoir, Boyhood, Fictionalised Autobiography, Genre, J.M. Coetzee, Life-Writing, Self-representation