The Master of Petersburg: Coetzee and Dostoevsky Merging Through Fiction

Alice Civieri


In 1994, John Maxwell Coetzee,  the white South African writer recipient of the Nobel prize for literature in 2003, writes The Master of Petersburg, a novel different in style and narrative structure from his previous works that  features  the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky as its main character. The article aims to focus on the functions of biography and autobiography (or better, autre-biography) in the novel. The ‘lies’ of identity and of History, an important theme in Coetzee’s fiction, will be highlighted in relation to the role of the writing process, and the parallelism between Dostoevsky’s predicament in Russia and Coetzee’s in South Africa will be attempted. Particular attention will be given to the role of art and writing in such peculiar historical contexts.

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