Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

From Waiting for the Barbarians

From <i>Waiting for the Barbarians</i>

Photograph via Flickr by shutterhacks

J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians

“The stars twinkle out of a clear black sky. Through the bars of the yard gate comes the gleam of a fire on the square beyond. Beside the gate, if I strain my eyes, I can make out a dark shape, a man sitting against the wall or curled up in sleep. Does he see me in the doorway of my cell? For minutes I stand alert. He does not stir. Then I begin to edge along the wall, my bare feet making whispering noises on the patches of gravel.”

The narrative of this short novel is so utterly disturbing due to the fact that humans are reduced to the basest of emotions and are driven by the instinct to live and achieve power.