Philosophy Today

Volume 68, Issue 2, Spring 2024

Teresa Álvarez MateosOrcid-ID
Pages 307-325

Language and Silence in the Novels of J. M. Coetzee

Silence is reserved for what cannot be verbally expressed. The well-known Wittgensteinian quote summarizes an established understanding of the relationship between language and silence: because language is not enough to account for reality and thinking, it must be transcended by other means of expression, like music or silence. But what if the opposite is the case and silence is not the extension but the precondition of language, the ultimate source of meaning? This paper explores how this is the phenomenological and Derridean philosophical framework of Coetzee’s novels, a literary universe created from the will to signify and build singular meanings.