'J. M. Coetzee'에 해당되는 글 1건

  1. 2008.11.07 [J. M. Coetzee] Waiting for the Barbarians
Scrap/Book2008. 11. 7. 01:41
. . . what I find myself beginning to write is not the annals of an Imperial outpost or an account of how the people of that outpost spent their last year composing their souls as they waited for the barbarians.

'No one who paid a visit to this oasis,' I write, 'failed to be struck by the charm of life here. We lived in the time of the seasons, of the harvests, of the migrations of the waterbirds. We lived with nothing between us and the stars. We would have made any concession, had we only known what, to go on living here. This was paradise on earth.'

For a long while I stare at the plea I have written. It would be disappointing to know that the people slips I have spent so much time on contain a message as devious, as equivocal, as reprehensible as this.

'Perhaps by the end of the winter,' I think, 'when hunger truly bites us, when we are cold and starving, or when the barbarian is truly at the gate, perhaps then I will abandon the locutions of a civil servant with literary ambitions and begin to tell the truth.'

I think: 'I wanted to live outside history. I wanted to live outside the history that Empire imposes on its subjects, even its lost subjects. I never wished it for the barbarians that they should have the history of Empire laid upon them. How can I believe that that is cause for shame?'

I think: ' I have lived through an eventful year, yet understand no more of it than a babe in arms. Of all the people of this town I am the one least fitted to write a memorial. Better the blacksmith with his cries of rage and woe.'

I think: 'But when the barbarians taste bread, new bread and mulberry jam, bread and gooseberry jam, they will be won over to our ways. They will find that they are unable to live without the skills of men who know how to rear the pacific grains, without the arts of women who knows how to use the benign fruits.'

I think: 'When one day people come scratching around in the ruins, they will be more interested in the relics from the desert than in anything I may leave behind. And rightly so.' (Thus I spend an evening coating the slips one by one in linseed oil and wrapping them in an oilcloth. When the wind lets up, I promise myself, I will go out and bury them where I found them.)

I think: 'There has been something staring me in the face, and still I do not see it.'

J. M. Coetzee
Waiting for the Barbarians (168-170)
London: Vintage(2004)

Posted by Lynn*

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