Searching for the Ideal: The Meaning of Compassion in J. M. Coetzee’s Novels

By Ekaterina Yasko.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: October 2, 2015 $US5.00

The problem of the ideal is the key to the history of literature. There is no major work of fiction which does not raise the question of the ideal and the truth, of good and beauty. Contemporary aesthetics reflects the state of loss of the ideals and value priorities, while blending progress and regress, humanism and anti-humane, good and evil, love and lust. All this leads to the necessity of reframing the sense of the human existence, its aesthetic and spiritual ideals. The moral responsibility of man for his deeds, actions, and thoughts has been one of the major issues of J. M. Coetzee’s creative pursuit. His novels express a powerful protest against the violence, examine human cruelty and insensitivity to the suffering the other. Compassion, being one of the dominant motifs, manifests itself as a crucial value. The author ruthlessly objects to the cruel rationalism and artificial morality of Western civilization, its spiritual isolation, as well as the tragedy of degeneration of the humanity in general. This paper aims at exploring J. M. Coetzee’s vision of the ideals for the currents state of humanity, and the possible ways out of the spiritual impasse, suggested by the author.

Keywords: Compassion, Transformation, Ideal

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 13, Issue 4, December 2015, pp.65-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: October 2, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 338.336KB)).

Ekaterina Yasko

Senior Teacher, English Department, Higher School of Economics, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation