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    Sobriquet 56.11

    Monday, July 13, 2009
    Since I had earmarked today for socializing, I hadn't intended to get a whole lot done. What I did do was review a brief essay that, in the end, only touched upon Elizabeth Costello in the most cursory of ways: Lynn Meskell and Lindsay Weiss's "Coetzee on South Africa's Past: Remembering in the Time of Forgetting." Although it does not add much to my current project, the essay is a well-written and thought-provoking examination of J. M. Coetzee's engagement with South African history, especially in Waiting for the Barbarians.

    I also spent a bit of time reviewing some of the essays I encountered in May, when I first started reading up on Elizabeth Costello. The best essay I read then, Thorsten Carstensen's "Shattering the Word-Mirror in Elizabeth Costello: J. M. Coetzee's Deconstructive Experiment" includes one of the better discussions of the political implications of literary production while also interrogating the decidedly postmodernist structure of the novel.

    I also glanced over some of the book reviews I'd read:

    Oliver Herford's "Tears for Dead Fish" reads Elizabeth Costello as a deliberately confrontative text designed to rankle readers with its "terminal, comfortless" content.

    Siddhartha Deb's "Mind Into Matter" is a thoughtful, sympathetic reading of the novel that resists the temptation to dwell on formal issues in order to focus on deeper thematic concerns.

    Andrew Marr's "He is Both Fish and Fowl" is typical of many reviews, focusing largely on the difficulty of presenting serious philosophical inquiry as part of a serious literary project.

    Judith Shulevitz's "Author Tour" is one of the most comprehensive, penetrating reviews of Elizabeth Costello to appear outside of academic journals.

    Sarah Coleman's "Thanks, But No Thanks" is a fairly negative take on the form of Coetzee's fiction, though not  dismissively so.

    For tomorrow: Read or (preferably) write.

    Works Cited

    Carstensen, Thorsten. "Shattering the Word-Mirror in Elizabeth Costello: J.M. Coetzee's Deconstructive Experiment." Journal of Commonwealth Literature 42.1 (2007): 79-96.

    Coleman, Sarah. "Thanks, But No Thanks." Rev. of Elizabeth Costello, by J. M. Coetzee. San Francisco Chronicle 2 Nov. 2003.

    Deb, Siddhartha. "Mind Into Matter." Rev. of Elizabeth Costello, by J. M. Coetzee. Boston Globe 26 Oct. 2003.

    Herford, Oliver. "Tears for Dead Fish." Rev. of Elizabeth Costello, by J. M. Coetzee. The Times 5 Sept. 2003.

    Marr, Andrew. "He is Both Fish and Fowl." Rev. of Elizabeth Costello, by J. M. Coetzee. The Telegraph 8 Sept. 2003.

    Meskell, Lynn and Lindsay Weiss. "Coetzee on South Africa's Past: Remembering in the Time of Forgetting." American Anthropologist 108.1 (2006): 88-99.

    Shulevitz, Judith. "Author Tour." Rev. of Elizabeth Costello, by J. M. Coetzee. New York Times 26 Oct. 2003.

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    Tuesday, April 14, 2009
    Although I would have liked to have fit some writing into my schedule today, the reality is that my Tuesdays are simply too busy for me to find the time it takes for me to dissertate effectively. So, rather than frustrate myself by attempting to write, I decided to get a bit of reading done for the next chapter.

    I ended up selecting the introductory essay to the American Anthropologist symposium devoted addressing several of the anthropological issues Coetzee raises in Elizabeth Costello. As one might expect of an introduction, the essay offers relatively little insight into the novel. Instead, it provides a thoughtful, accessible overview of the critical reception of Elizabeth Costello while also, predictably, making a case for the sort of interdisciplinary discourse it introduces.

    For tomorrow: Read, write, or plan. Preferably write.

    Work Cited

    Mascia- Lees, Frances E. and Patricia Sharpe. "Introduction to 'Cruelty, Suffering, Imagination: The Lessons of J. M. Coetzee.'" American Anthropologist 108.1 (2006): 84-87.

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