To Write Liberty
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The keynote for the International Conference, Writing for Liberty, held in Cape Town in 2017 is a response to the contradictory demands made on writers: to respond to the suffering in the world and to refrain from appropriating the pain of the marginalised. Taking a cue from Isaiah Berlin’s analysis of the two kinds of liberties: liberty to be free and liberty from interference with freedom, an argument is made for the freedom of a writer to write what she wants. This freedom is radically tempered in a reading of some novels by JM Coetzee. Here I explore the quality of skill, anguish and powerlessness to which a writer has to submit within the structure of her text.