J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians examines the actions and thoughts of the Magistrate, who becomes conflicted as the Empire he is a part of becomes increasingly violent against the perceived barbarian threat. Central to the Magistrate’s turmoil is the perceived superlative nature of the Empire with its objective history and absolute truths, and the irreconcilably immoral actions the Empire performs. The idea of history being written on the body is integral to this supposed unequivocal nature and history of the Empire. Literally, the barbarian captives are written upon. On a more metaphorical level, the torture of prisoners can be seen as an extension of the Empire’s writings. Torture provides an objective narrative, pain, on the subjective body. It absorbs and converts the subjective into the objective, so that only the history of the writer (i.e. the history of the Empire). remains. As articulated by Hegel, the modern Western idea of civilization has long rested on the union of history and its written record(Moses 117). The writing of history on the body then is the Empire, representing Western civilization and colonization, consuming the uncivilized colonized. At its core, Waiting for the Barbarians is about the Magistrate’s search for truth. Coetzee charts the evolution of the Magistrate’s beliefs from objective to subjective, from a Hegelian and teleological perspective to a post-modern and post-structural perspective.