Waiting for the Barbarians
infobox Book |
name = Waiting for the Barbarians
image_caption = First edition cover
language = English
Secker & Warburg
release_date = 27 October 1980
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 156 pp (hardback edition)
isbn = ISBN 0-436-10295-1 (hardback edition)
"Waiting for the Barbarians" is a
novelby the South African author J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literaturein 2003. The novel was published in 1980 and is regarded as one of Coetzee's finest pieces of writing.Fact|date=February 2007 It was chosen by Penguin for their series " Great Books of the 20th Century" and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prizefor fiction. American composer Philip Glasshas also written an opera of the same name based on the book which premiered in September 2005in Erfurt, Germany.
Explanation of the novel's title
It has been said that Coetzee took his title from the poem "Waiting for the Barbarians" by
Greek-Egyptianpoet Constantine P. Cavafy. [ Citation | last = Howe | first = Irving | author-link = Irving Howe| title = A STARK POLITICAL FABLE OF SOUTH AFRICA | newspaper = The New York Times| date = April 18, 1982| url = http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/11/02/home/coetzee-barbarians.html|accessdate =2007-12-30 Book Review Desk] [ [http://cavafis.compupress.gr/kave_32.htm "Waiting for the Barbarians"] . Constantine P. Cavafy. Retrieved May 27, 2008.] It may also be an allusion to Samuel Beckett's " Waiting for Godot". Inspiration from Dino Buzzati's novel " The Tartar Steppe" is also evident, both for the title and the plot.
The story is set in small frontier town of a nameless empire. The town's magistrate is the story's main protagonist and narrator. His rather peaceful existence on the frontier comes to an end with the arrival of some special forces of the Empire, led by a sinister Colonel Joll. There are rumours that the
barbarians are preparing an attack on the Empire, and so Colonel Joll and his men conduct an expedition into the land beyond the frontier. They capture a number of "barbarians," bring them back to town, torture them, kill some of them, and leave for the capital in order to prepare a larger campaign against the barbarians. In the meantime, the Magistrate becomes involved with a "barbarian girl" who was left behind crippled and blinded by the torturers. Eventually, he decides to take her back to her people. After a life-threatening trip through the barren land he succeeds in his objective and returns to his town. Shortly thereafter, the Empire's forces return and the Magistrate's own plight begins.
Coetzee is generally considered to be a postcolonial and postmodern writer who utilizes the nameless empire as an allegory. The magistrate is a figure searching for meaning on the outskirts of an unjust, cruel empire. His love for the barbarian girl is both paternalistic, fetishistic, and misguided. Ultimately, the magistrate learns he is too entrenched within his imperial breeding to make sense of the frontier (the plight of his own people and the barbarians).
Awards and nominations
After Coetzee won of the
Nobel Prize in Literaturein 2003, "Waiting for the Barbarians" was chosen by Penguin Booksfor their series " Great Books of the 20th Century". The Nobel Prize committee called "Waiting for the Barbarians" "a political thriller in the tradition of Joseph Conrad, in which the idealist’s naivete opens the gates to horror".Fact|date=May 2008
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
The opera by Philip Glass is based on Coetzee's book and Christopher Hampton's libretto adapts the story faithfully. The opera premiered on
September 10, 2005, at the Theater of Erfurt, Germany, under the direction of Guy Montavon. The lead role of the Magistrate was sung by British baritone Richard Salter, Colonel Joll by American baritone Eugene Perry, who has starred in a number of Glass operas, and the barbarian girl by Elvira Soukop. The musical director of the premiere was Dennis Russell Davies. As Glass told journalists and the Erfurt audience at a matinée, he sees scary parallels between the opera's story and the Iraq War: a military campaign, scenes of torture, talk about threats to the Empire's peace and safety, but no proof. The Austin Lyric Operaperformed the American premiere of "Waiting for the Barbarians" on January 19, 2007, conducted by Richard Buckleyand under the direction of Guy Montavon, who was joined again by Richard Salter and Eugene Perry as the Magistrate and Colonel Joll, respectively.
*ISBN 0-09-946593-0 (UK paperback, Virago)
* [http://cavafis.compupress.gr/kave_32.htm Cavafy's poem "Waiting for the Barbarians"]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Waiting for the Barbarians (opera) — Waiting for the Barbarians is an opera in two acts composed by Philip Glass, with libretto by Christopher Hampton based on the 1980 novel of the same name by South African born author John M. Coetzee. The opera was commissioned by the Erfurt… … Wikipedia
The Tartar Steppe — ( it. Il deserto dei Tartari) is a novel written by Dino Buzzati and published in 1940. The novel tells the story of a young officer, Giovanni Drogo, and his life spent guarding the Bastiani Fortress, an old, unmaintained border fortress. The… … Wikipedia
The Counter-Reformation — The Counter Reformation † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Counter Reformation The subject will be considered under the following heads: I. Significance of the term II. Low ebb of Catholic fortunes III. St. Ignatius and the Jesuits,… … Catholic encyclopedia
The Irish (in Countries Other Than Ireland) — The Irish (in countries other than Ireland) † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Irish (in countries other than Ireland) I. IN THE UNITED STATES Who were the first Irish to land on the American continent and the time of their arrival are … Catholic encyclopedia
The Rolling Stones — Para la revista musical, véase Rolling Stone. The Rolling Stones … Wikipedia Español
The Rolling Stones — Rolling Stones redirects here. For other uses, see Rolling Stones (disambiguation). The Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts … Wikipedia
The Ancient Art of War — Infobox VG| title = Ancient Art of War developer = Evryware publisher = Broderbund designer = engine = released = 1984 genre = real time strategy modes = Single player ratings = platforms = Apple IIe, Macintosh, TRS 80, DOS media = requirements … Wikipedia
The Prince — This article is about the book by Niccolò Machiavelli. For other uses, see Prince (disambiguation). The Prince … Wikipedia
The Winshaw Legacy — Infobox Book name = The Winshaw Legacy AKA What a Carve Up! author = Jonathan Coe cover artist = Owen Smith cover design= Susan Mitchell country = London, Great Britain language = English genre = Mystery/Drama publisher = Random House Inc pub… … Wikipedia
The Promise (2005 film) — Infobox Film name = The Promise caption = director = Chen Kaige writer = Chen Kaige starring = Jang Dong gun Hiroyuki Sanada Cecilia Cheung Nicholas Tse Liu Ye Chen Hong producer = Kim Dong ju Chen Hong distributor = flagicon|China China Film… … Wikipedia