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    Sobriquet 44.1

    Tuesday, July 1, 2008
    Rita Barnard, in my opinion, is one of the most consistently excellent Coetzee scholars around. Although "Coetzee's Country Ways" does not appear to figure into my discussion of Disgrace, I would like to at least mention the essay because I appreciate the depth of thought and clarity of language in Barnard's article. Part adroit linguistic analysis, part intertextual exploration, "Coetzee's Country Ways" examines the novel's contribution to and commentary on the South African pastoral tradition. Contrasting Disgrace with Life & Times of Michael K and Charles van Onselen's The Seed is Mine, Barnard makes a convincing case for reading Coetzee's novel as the author's "anti-pastoral . . . contribution to a larger discursive and narrative project of re-imaging rural life in South Africa" in the still-nascent post-Apartheid era (393).

    For tomorrow: Largely because I really need a break from reading nothing but literary criticism, I will give myself the option of starting Boyhood if I do not feel like reading another essay tomorrow.

    Work Cited

    Barnard, Rita. "Coetzee's Country Ways." interventions 4.3 (2002): 384-394.

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    Tuesday, June 10, 2008
    I just finished reading Rita Barnard's excellent essay, "J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace and the South African Pastoral." Written in the sort of clear-yet-erudite prose one does not encounter nearly as often as one would like, Barnard's paper examines the ways in which Coetzee's language conveys alienation and the impossibility of cultural translation in the "new South Africa," while thoughtfully touching upon the book's play on the plaasroman form and the troubling presence of potentially racist content. In stark contrast to Florance Strattion's extremely negative reading of David Lurie's racist comments, however, Barnard views the former professor's "cartoonish colonial stereotypes" and his "ridiculous, hopelessly dated vocabulary" as signs not of intolerance but of a failure to effectively translate the traumatic experience of the attack linguistically or culturally (211). I am also impressed by the critic's refusal to "beat [the novel's final scene] into a convenient shape with a critical shovel," a decision that encourages reader to continue asking the questions Coetzee raises in his novel. Bravo, Rita!

    For tomorrow: Read another article or, if I'd like, work on my bibliography or watch Dust.

    Work Cited

    Barnard, Rita. "J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace and the South African Pastoral." Contemporary Literature 44.2 (2003): 199-224.

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