30.1 | Gregory Stephens

Fathering Rescripted: The Shadow of the Son in Coetzee’s Late Fiction


The issue of late fatherhood and the role children play in creative works of senior writers frame my discussion of representations of fathering in the late work of J.M. Coetzee. I focus on Coetzee’s allegorical treatment of fractured father-son relationships in The Childhood of Jesus and The Schooldays of Jesus. Drawing on the literary nonfiction which I teach, and have employed to narrate my own experience of “senior fathering,” I critique the dystopian outcomes of the father-figure’s (Simón’s) compulsive self-erasure. His “blind faith” in a mother’s innate superiority represents not only the author’s reflections on his own shortcomings as a father, but his interrogation of the absence of the father in literary traditions.