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Barbarism and Its Discontents$
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Maria Boletsi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804782760

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804782760.001.0001

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Barbarism in Repetition

Barbarism in Repetition

Literature's Waiting for the Barbarians

(p.139) 5 Barbarism in Repetition
Barbarism and Its Discontents
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the critical potential of the barbarians' absence by focusing on the topos of “waiting for the barbarians” through a comparative reading of C. P. Cavafy's poem “Waiting for the Barbarians” (1904) and J. M. Coetzee's homonymous novel (1980). It assesses the implications of the barbarians' failure to arrive in both works and considers repetition as a barbarian operation linked with foundational categories of civilization. Using a multiplying, kaleidoscopic lens, the chapter highlights barbarism in repetition and as repetition and discusses the ways in which the overdetermined name “barbarian” can be repeated into new senses in the space of literature. It also looks at the concept of repetition in relation to two other concepts: “history” and “allegory.”

Keywords:   barbarism, civilization, repetition, C. P. Cavafy, Waiting for the Barbarians, J. M. Coetzee, barbarian, history, allegory

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