Waiting for the Barbarians: Conrad, Kafka, Coetzee

  • Simona Micali
Keywords: Barbarism, Civilization, Otherness, Narration, Colonial


The threat of the “Barbarians at the gates”, who bring chaos and death upon civilization, has gradually become one of the thematic obsessions of contemporary imagination. Along the course of the 20th century, the Enemy became less and less the bearer of another culture, and more and more the carrier of a Nonculture or an Anticulture. Such evolution is particularly evident in popular imagination, in all the comics and blockbuster films which stage the final battle between the heros of (white, Western) civilization against a dreadful army of barbarian enemies. The article focus on three works – Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Beim Bau der chinesischen Mauer by Franz Kafka, Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee – which investigate on this mechanism from within, highlighting its ideological implications and its tragic potential.


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How to Cite
Micali, S. (2017). Waiting for the Barbarians: Conrad, Kafka, Coetzee. Between, 7(14). https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/2794
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