Foe: A Novel Paperback – Jan 5 1988
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From Publishers Weekly
This slim novel by the author of Waiting for the Barbarians is both a variant of Robinson Crusoe and a complex parable of art and life. PW noted that the characters' relationships are "an allegory of the evil social order that poisons the author's native South Africa."
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Cast adrift by a mutinous crew, Susan Barton washes ashore on an isle of classic fiction. For the next year, Robinson Cruso sculpts the land while Friday mutely watches Susan intrude upon their loneliness. Life is mere pattern for the two unquestioning castaways, but Susan is not of their story and she pushes Cruso for rationales that don't exist in a world of imagination. Finally rescued and returned to London, Susan leads Friday to Daniel Foe, the author who will write their tale. Foe, however, sees a different story and seeks "to tell the truth in all its substance." Discovering such truth is Coetzee's aim in Foe, an intriguing novel strikingly different from his earlier works. Here he scrutinizes the gulf between a story and its telling, giving us a thought-provoking text wonderfully rich in meaning and design. Paul E. Hutchison, English Dept., Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The primary concern of this novel is the art of storytelling. It is a story that is almost painfully conscious of its status as a story; as a narrative, or rather, collection of narratives. As such, it is continually punctuated with other stories and echoes of other stories - fairy tales, myths, other novels - and is continually debating the ownership and authorship of the tale being told. This narrative reflexivity becomes most apparent when Foe acknowledges that they (the characters) are themselves the creations, 'puppets', of some 'conjurer unknown to us'.
The relationships between the four main characters - Susan, Cruso, Friday and Foe - are constantly explored in terms of master/slave dialectics. The mutual dependency central to the master/slave dialectic is emphasized continually and the four characters form a complex web of relationships with reciprocating obligations and reliances resonating through the text. The most interesting of these bonds is Susan's relationship with Friday - a man whom she frequently regards as lacking even the most basic status as a person yet depends on nonetheless. Tellingly, Friday's lack of a tongue dooms his 'story' to be forever lost.Read more ›
"Foe" takes such preconceived ideas and shows that although we may feel comfortable with that basic narrative, comfortability can cause us to take stories for granted and make us complacent readers. In "Foe," Coetzee turns the story, characters, and subject positions of Defoe's foundational novel on their heads to disrupt our ready notions of truth, trust, and story. The major question we ask throughout the very short novel is 'Who's story is the right one?' Is there ever one right story?
Coetzee turns the autocratic, garrulous, enterprising Robinson Crusoe into Cruso, a stoic castaway who no longer cares to leave his island and spends each day in a futile pursuit. He builds terraces where nonexistent future generations can plant imported seeds. Friday, Cruso's servant, is changed from a subservient, excitable islander to a former African slave who may or may not have a tongue and does not speak at all.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
One of those books which is more fun and rewarding to discuss than to read.Published on July 13 2004 by algo41
FOE is a retelling of Robinson Crusoe in a dense, moralistic tale narrated from a woman's point of view. Read morePublished on July 6 2004 by C. Myers
First of all, I enjoyed this book. It's surreal and dreamy, and Cruso is a great character, undeserving of the scorn that has been heaped (in tiny, feckless,... Read morePublished on Oct. 18 2002 by Andrew Bruske
This slim volume was beautifully written and held a rich story. I have not read Robinson Crusoe, but I knew enough about the story to enjoy this version, that is a thoroughly... Read morePublished on Jan. 30 2002 by Stacey M Jones
This book was really boring. It had basically the same idea as Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, and the title, "FOE," came from Daniel DeFOE. Read morePublished on July 18 2001 by Valerie Lockhart
A rich, rewarding and complex work. Coetzee weaves a masterful tale, which I will not re-examine as other reviewers have so successfully and succinctly done. Read morePublished on Jan. 25 2001 by EriKa
I gaurantee that you won't be able to better spend 3-4 hours than to spend it reading this short novel! Read morePublished on July 12 2000