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    Sobriquet 46.11

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008
    All right. Since it seems like my internet is functioning at the moment, I'll try to get a post online this evening.

    Today was a remarkably productive day, surprisingly. Not only did I get myself up and out of bed relatively early, I read two articles, got quite a bit of prep work done for my classes, and hiked a beautiful mountain trail.

    That said, I still have a good deal of work I want to get done before bed, so I won't write nearly as long an entry as I would like. I will, however, review some of the critical reading I have done this past week in an effort to make up for the string of "I'm too tired to write anything" entries preceding this one.

    Of the critical essays I read over the past week, Louis Tremaine's "The Embodied Soul: Animal Being in the Work of J. M. Coetzee" is, by far, the most interesting. Animals, Tremaine asserts, are almost always associated with death and decline in Coetzee's fiction. In his analysis, Tremaine convincingly argues that the role of animals in works such as Age of Iron, Disgrace, and Elizabeth Costello is, at least partially, aimed at addressing "that perpetually recurring question in Coetzee's writing: how to live with the knowledge of impending death" (594).

    Although all of the essays I read address Disgrace, only two -- Ranajit Das's "Prophet of Pain" and Lucy Graham's "Reading the Unspeakable" -- deal exclusively with Coetzee's novel. Das's essay is peculiarly charming in its unabashed enthusiasm for Disgrace. With a reverential tone more commonly found in medieval hagiographical writing than in contemporary literary criticism, "Prophet of Pain" dismisses the significance of the "'local history' factor" so many critics have viewed as central to the novel as secondary to universal existential allegory Das sees as the book's most important aspect (219). Graham's essay, on the other hand, is intensely local in its focus. Using the widespread outrage at Coetzee's depiction of the rape of a white woman by three black assailants as her starting point, Graham discusses both David Lurie's rape of Melanie Isaacs and Lucy Lurie's rape at the hands of Pollux and his two comrades as key elements in Coetzee's subtle inversion of the racist "black peril" narratives reflecting white anxieties in post-Apartheid South Africa. Among her many insightful comments, Graham makes a compelling argument for Lucy's silence as a catalyst for the evolution of her father's sympathetic imagination.

    For tomorrow: Read another essay.


    Works Cited

    Das, Ranajit. "Prophet of Pain: J. M. Coetzee and His Novel Disgrace." Indian Literature 48.1 (2004): 165-173.

    Graham, Lucy Valerie. "Reading the Unspeakable: Rape in J . M. Coetzee's Disgrace." 29.2 (2003): 433-444.

    Tremaine, Louis. "The Embodied Soul: Animal Being in the Work of J. M. Coetzee." Contemporary Literature 44.4 (2003): 587-612.

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