Waiting for the barbarians

September 1, 2020 cine

The barbarians are due here today. C.P. Cavafy Waiting for the Barbarians, written in 1898

J.M. Coetzee wrote a novel on the theme in 1980.

Phillip Glass premiered the opera in 2005, based on the book.

J.M. Coetzee wrote the screenplay for the movie released in August 2020.

Astonishing. Horrifying. Excruciating. Glacial. Painterly. Ambiguous. Unbearable. Discomfiting. Drab. Vivid. Still. Panoramic. Claustrophic. Suspensful. Unresolved.

And all other inadequate adjectives and gerundives.

The eye drowns, the ear strains1, breath catches. Not entertaining. Or cathartic. Or pleasurable.

It will not haunt dreams, but waking hours. I carry its brand.


  1. But for a single scene in which a angry soldier speaks↩︎