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    Sobriquet 46.3

    Tuesday, September 2, 2008
    Here's a strange phenomenon: I've been getting my work done earlier since the semester started. I'm even blogging before noon today. I mean, it makes sense. After all, now that I have classes to prepare for, my days aren't nearly as open as they've been. Now, if I want to be certain that I get my dissertation work and my prep work done every day, I need to crack open the books earlier in the morning and work later in the evening, cramming my empty space with productivity. Audiobooks help.

    At any rate, thanks to the rather rude awakening I had this morning courtesy of the staccato bleat of a neighbor's car alarm, I was up a bit earlier than I would have liked. Since it took me quite a bit longer to fall asleep last night and because I was awake so early, I reasoned, I wouldn't get much reading done this evening after work and I decided to read John Banville's oft-cited review of Disgrace. Despite having to pay The New York Review of Books a whopping three dollars for the privilege of accessing the online archives (I do realise, of course, that it costs money to provide such conveniences as immediate access to half a century of text, but I was bleary-eyed and vexed by the knowledge that I would not be getting any additional sleep, so I am expressing a hyperbolic exasperation for comedic -- albeit as unfunny a variety as possible -- effect), I found the essay well worth the effort of obtaining (you know, a click here, a click there . . . real tough stuff).

    All joking aside, The New York Review of Books is undoubtedly one of the best resources out there for people researching contemporary literature and John Banville is a fantastic, erudite novelist in his own right and a first-rate critic to boot. Though Banville's assessment of the novel is largely a positive one, he does seem to feel that there is a disjuncture between Disgrace's opening segment and the longer middle section devoted to David's time on the smallholding with Lucy. Indeed, Banville appears to rate Coetzee's account of the Luries' time together as one of the author's finest, most provocative pieces of writing. Significantly, Banville pays particularly close attention to the author's treatment of Petrus, rightfully reading the man as the novel's most fully realized -- and potentially disturbing -- character:
    For all his taciturnity, Petrus is perhaps the most convincing character in the book. In his strength, his tenacity, his peasant slyness, and his ruthlessness, he represents something as ancient and elemental as the land itself, yet never does he become a mere symbol; craggy and dangerous, he is, as his name implies, the rock on which, for better or worse, a new South Africa will be built.
    Elsewhere, Banville astutely notes what many fellow critics have not been able to locate within the novel, namely a sense of humor. From the novel's first sentence, which Banville suggests opens "with what might be a sly wink" to the book's culminating scene of canine euthanasia, Coetzee lightens the gloom with discreet humor, even "allow[ing] himself now and then a Dantesque wan smile." Indeed, satire and irony do permeate the narrative, though in a muted, "moderated" sort of way.

    I'd write more, but I have some chores to get done between now and my next class . . .

    For tomorrow: Read another essay.

    Work Cited

    Banville, John. "Endgame." Rev. of Disgrace, by J . M. Coetzee. The New York Review of Books 47.1. Available online.

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  1. From Minxy:

    It seems like the semester is starting to settle into being a good one for you, what with being able to get school and dissertation work done earlier than you're used to. YAY!!! :)

    By Blogger Sobriquet Magazine on 03 September, 2008
     

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