Towards the Garden of the Mothers

Relocating the Capacity to Narrate in J.M. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K

in Theoria
Author: Erin Mitchell
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In Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee, K stays on the plot of land on which he believes his grandmother raised his mother. His appropriation of this land affords him control of space, a control he could not have acquired in apartheid-riven Cape Town. His sojourn in the garden, however, takes him out of historical time, and stunts his capacity to narrate his story and thus to take control over historical time. In the garden of his foremothers, K inhabits time measured by the growth of plants. Isolated on his pumpkin-patch, K learns to cultivate and protect his plants; when he is hauled to the medical clinic, he retains this knowledge, while he also begins to learn that narrative skills can permit him to inhabit human history.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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