Discovering Robinson Crusoe’s Others: J.M. Coetzee’s Foe
Ansi Sev (Ege University, Izmir, Turkey) [BIO]
Robinson Crusoe is a text that reveals the ideological bases underlying its author’s hegemonic perspective. Although it seems to be the simple story of a man who manages to survive on an island, the novel is also the story of the white man Crusoe’s turning the island into his empire. With his servant Friday and his ability to cultivate nature according to his needs, Crusoe is the prototype of the imperial man. By contrast, Foe, by J.M. Coetzee, a rewriting of Robinson Crusoe, is the story of the possible other stories and voices that were excluded by Daniel De/Foe’s text.
Foe reveals that the witness of Crusoe and Friday’s story is a woman, and that she is the true storyteller. In the text, Friday is depicted as a slave who does not have a language, a voice, the right to express himself. Both the woman and the slave need an author to tell their stories on their behalf. Coetzee, by exploring the process of writing, reveals the distortion of Robinson Crusoe and others’ story in the hands of Daniel De/Foe, who does not take into account any marginalized voices. This paper focuses on how Coetzee presents the practice of writing as something that can be exploited to ideological ends, as well as on how he describes the tension between political structures and marginalized or silenced parties.