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Foe by J. M. Coetzee

Foe (original 1986; edition 1988)

by J. M. Coetzee (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,388325,480 (3.49)98
Authors:J. M. Coetzee (Author)
Info:PENGUIN GROUP (1988), Edition: Revised
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, Africa, 1980's

Work details

Foe by J. M. Coetzee (1986)

  1. 00
    Jack Maggs by Peter Carey (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Post-Colonial novel appropriating classic characters and fictionalized versions of their creators.
  2. 00
    The Magus by John Fowles (Hibou8)

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English (29)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  All (32)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
My first - but not my last - Coetzee. I was fascinated by this tale of a lady castaway who finds herself on Crusoe's island and then tries to sell her story to Defoe. Part homage to the one of the earliest of novels, part fable, the novel has a wonderful twist about midway through and then continues to spiral into fantasies about writing, authorship, and speechlessness.

I loved it. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
In the spirit of Foe, a story about this book... I bought this book at a recent $5 A Bag book sale at the library. Having walked away with 4 bags of books, it seemed like a pretty successful sale in and of itself. However, fate intervenes (dun dun DUN) and, picking it up to read tonight, I see a very familiar name scrawled in the front cover, a date/locale, and a seal imprinted on the title page. None other than the name of my favorite teacher back in high school and the date of my graduation. A favorite teacher that has since passed away but is sorely missed. Coincidence might be the invention of the storyteller here, but it's a coincidence I'm very happy about.

The book itself was interesting, both as a reinvention of Crusoe and a stand-alone. I was almost expecting a The Yellow Wallpaper twist to come into play. Definitely worth the read. ( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
A fascinating look at storytelling--approached through another author's story.

Coetzee introduces Susan Barton, lately a female castaway, as she approaches the author Foe to tell the story of herself and the late Cruso on their desert island before rescue. Friday, Crusoe's servant/slave and now hers (for whom she has forged a note stating he is freed), is a mute with no tongue. Just as Friday cannot tell his story, can Susan tell hers? Is it worth telling, or must Foe make it more interesting? Is it then her story? What was her real story?

Fascinating and clever--and I am SO glad I read Robinson Crusoe first! ( )
  Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
Not my favorite Coetzee. The story didn't engage me the way other of his stories have. Perhaps I have a psychological block on the epistolary form--I don't care for the characters the way I should. ( )
  jtodd1973 | Aug 26, 2014 |
At only 157 pages, Foe is a rather short novel that reinvents Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. While the novel is still set in the eighteenth century, a new character is introduced in the form of Susan Barton, a woman stranded on the same island as Robinson Crusoe, who is just 'Cruso' in this novel. Foe is divided into several parts. It starts by relating the life of Susan Barton, Cruso and Friday on the island. After the death of Cruso and the rescue of Friday and Barton, the female protagonist returns to England and wants Cruso's story to be told. As she does not consider herself creative enough to tell the story herself, she turns to the author Foe for help. This makes for the second part of the novel, which for the main part consists of letters of Barton to Foe. Throughout the whole novel, a strong focus is placed on the relationships between Susan Barton and the respective male characters, namely Cruso, Foe and Friday. This is especially true for the third and fourth part of the novel, which focus on the relationship between Susan Barton and Foe, on the one hand, and the protagonist's relationship to Friday on the other hand. Towards the ending, there is a twist in the story and it ends on a somewhat strange note.

Since I liked the original Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe a lot, I definitely wanted to give this novel a try. After finishing the novel, I still have not decided which reading of it I like most. Actually, the ending left me a little confused, which I find is a good quality in a book. The novel lends itself to several kinds of reading, the most prominent one probably placing a focus on words and language. As Friday had his tongue cut out by slavers, he is not able to speak and communication with him is only possible on a very low level. This theme is prevalent throughout the book. A second theme that I find quite intriguing is the different kinds of relationship between Susan Barton and the male characters in the book. Coetzee's choice to introduce a female character and thereby rewrite the story of Robinson Crusoe with a woman on the island provides a fresh and interesting perspective. To my mind, this almost begs for a gender reading of Foe.

What I especially liked about the novel is the perspective and the themes mentioned above. This novel is moving, interesting, different, thought-provoking, and beautifully composed. On the whole, 4 stars for this reading experience. ( )
1 vote OscarWilde87 | Aug 13, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
J. M. Coetzeeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bergsma, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Average: (3.49)
1 5
1.5 4
2 24
2.5 6
3 92
3.5 32
4 87
4.5 10
5 34

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0241950112, 0141399384

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