Foe is a 1986 novel by South African-born Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee. Woven around the existing plot of Robinson Crusoe, Foe is written from the perspective of Susan Barton, a castaway who landed on the same island inhabited by "Cruso" and Friday as their adventures were already underway. Like Robinson Crusoe, it is a frame story, unfolded as Barton's narrative while in England attempting to convince the writer Daniel Foe to help transform her tale into popular fiction. Focused primarily on themes of language and power, the novel was the subject of criticism in South Africa, where it was regarded as politically irrelevant on its release. Coetzee revisited the composition of Robinson Crusoein 2003 in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
Nobel acceptance speech
When Coetzee was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature, he revisited the theme of composition as self-definition in his acceptance speech, entitled "He and his Man". Coetzee, who had lectured in character before, narrated a situation in which an elderly Crusoe quietly living in Bristol becomes the ambivalent muse of Defoe. According to The Guardian, this act of composition "write[s] "Defoe into existence, rather than the other way around." Although Crusoe is the narrator of the piece, Coetzee indicated he did not know whether Crusoe or Defoe represented him in the lecture. By contrast, he clearly identified himself with Barton in Foe: "the unsuccessful author—worse authoress."