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y Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 2003 2003
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

In Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons, the eponymous protagonist is a retired author of international literary acclaim, who now spends her time giving guest lectures and interviews at scholarly events around the world. Old age has loosened, rather than reified, her ethical and literary convictions, and swelled her emotional reserves; rather than provide the staid academic wisdom expected of her, Costello offers provocative, unsettling opinions on issues such as animal rights, literary censorship, and the nature of belief - opinions she may or may not believe in herself. Profoundly aware of itself, Coetzee's novel is about human morality and mortality, but above all, about literature itself and the ethical responsibilities of writers and readers.

Notes

  • Acknowledgements

    An earlier version of Lesson 1 appeared under the title 'What is Realism?' in Salmagundi nos. 114-15 (1997).

    An earlier version of Lesson 2 appeared as 'The Novel in Africa', Occasional Paper no. 17 of the Townsend Center for the Humanities, University of California at Berkeley, 1999. Cheikh Hamidou Kane is quoted from Phanuel Akubueze Egejuru, Towards African Literary Independence (Greenwood Press, Westport, 1980), by permission of the author. Paul Zumthor is quoted from Introduction à la poésie orale, by permission of Éditions du Seuil.

    Lessons 3 and 4 were published, with responses by Peter Singer, Marjorie Garber, Wendy Doniger and Barbara Smuts, as The Lives of Animals (Princeton University Press, 1999).

    An earlier version of Lesson 5 appeared as 'Die Menschenwissenschaften in Afrika' / 'The Humanities in Africa' (Siemens Stifung, Munich, 2001).

    An earlier version of Lesson 6 appeared in Salmagundi nos. 137-38 (2003).

    'Letter of Elizabeth, Lady Chandos' was published by Intermezzo Press, Austin, Texas, in 2002.

    Some chapters of this book are revised versions of essays previously published in literary and cultural journals.

  • Listed in The New York Times Book Review's list of Notable Books for 2003.
  • Editions and translations have been updated for Elizabeth Costelle: Eight Lessons by Eilish Copelin as part of a Semester 2, 2013 scholar's internship. The selection and inclusion of these editions and translations was based on their availability through Australian libraries, namely through the search facilities of Libraries Australia and Trove (National Library of Australia).

    Given the international popularity of Coetzee's work, however, this record is not yet comprehensive. Editions and translations not widely available in Australia may not have been indexed. Furthermore, due to the enormous breadth of critical material on Coetzee's work, indexing of secondary sources is also not complete.

  • Other formats: Also large print, sound recording, and electronic resource.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Milsons Point, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Knopf , 2003 .
      999431723395770344.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 233p.
      Edition info: 1st Australian ed.
      ISBN: 1740512650 (hbk.), 9781740512657 (hbk.)
    • London,
      c
      England,
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      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
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      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Secker and Warburg , 2003 .
      1525286347506128137.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 233p.
      Edition info: 1st UK ed.
      ISBN: 0436206161 (hbk.), 9780436206160 (hbk.)
    • New York (City), New York (State),
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      United States of America (USA),
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      Americas,
      :
      Viking , 2003 .
      8512450360336980019.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 230p.
      Edition info: 1st US ed.
      ISBN: 0670031305 (hbk.), 9780670031306 (hbk.)
    • Milsons Point, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Vintage , 2004 .
      5039564226247093454.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 233p.
      ISBN: 1740512758 (pbk.), 9781740512756 (pbk.)
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Vintage , 2004 .
      515064854305441457.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 233p.
      ISBN: 0099461927 (pbk.), 9781740512756 (pbk.)
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Penguin Books , 2004 .
      3295358805516888432.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 231p.
      ISBN: 0142004812 (pbk.), 9780142004814 (pbk.)
Alternative title: Elizabeth Costello
Language: Swedish
    • Stockholm,
      c
      Sweden,
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      Scandinavia, Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Brombergs Bokforlag , 2003 .
      1878076164951844688.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 196p.
      Edition info: 1st ed.
      Note/s:
      • "Av författaren till Onåd"
      ISBN: 9176089371, 9789176089378

Works about this Work

“A Face Without Personality” : Coetzee’s Swiftian Narrators Gillian Dooley , Robert Phiddian , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Ariel , July vol. 47 no. 3 2016; (p. 1-22)
'Much has been written about the complicated intertextual relationships between J. M. Coetzee’s novels and previous works by writers such as Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Samuel Beckett, and, especially, Daniel Defoe. Relatively little has been written, in comparison, about any relationship between Coetzee and Defoe’s great contemporary, Jonathan Swift. We claim no extensive structural relationship between Coetzee’s novels and Swift’s works—nothing like the formal interlace between Robinson Crusoe and Foe, for example. We do claim, however, a strong and explicitly signalled likeness of narrative stance, marked especially by the ironic distance between author and protagonist in Gulliver’s Travels and Elizabeth Costello. We rehearse the extensive evidence of Coetzee’s attention to Swift (both in novels and criticism) and suggest that there is a Swiftian dimension to Coetzee’s oeuvre that is evident in several books, including Dusklands, Youth, Elizabeth Costello, and Diary of a Bad Year.' (Publication abstract)
y Sympathy for the Animal(ized) Other in Selected Works of J. M. Coetzee On Yue Joyce Chan , Hong Kong : 2015 8424922 2015 single work thesis

'Sympathy, understood to be the capacity to suffer with the other, has long been regarded as one of the major vehicles to inspire an ethical communion. By minimizing differences through identification, sympathy helps us resonate with other beings and to exist in relation to them. This thesis examines the ethical endeavors on the vexed question of sympathy in four works by J. M. Coetzee - - The Lives of Animals (1999), Disgrace (1999), Elizabeth Costello (2003) and Slow Man (2005), all of which manifest Coetzee's notable interest in a fully-engaged sympathetic imagination into depraved and deprived human or nonhuman subjects. ' (Thesis summary)

Feste Ansichten in His Own Person : J.M. Coetzee Speaks Gillian Dooley , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: MediaTropes , vol. 4 no. 2 2014; (p. 31-45)
'Three recent books by J.M. Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello (2003), Diary of a Bad Year (2007), and Here and Now (2013), have included extensive expressions of opinion. The wide-ranging discussions in these books cover topics from political philosophy, language, animal rights, and paedophilia to music, food, and sport. There is substantial continuity in the opinions expressed, and the characters or personae expressing these views also have a good deal in common. Nevertheless, these opinions are expressed in three explicitly different personae. With each of these books the personae are progressively more closely identifiable with Coetzee himself. Elizabeth Costello, in the book of that name, is a character who crosses gender and national boundaries from her creator. JC in Diary of a Bad Year shares at least some biographical circumstances with Coetzee—land of birth, gender, initials, occupation, for example. Then, in Here and Now, we are presented with what purports transparently to be the author J.M. Coetzee’s own voice in correspondence with Paul Auster. How do I, as a reader and a critic, negotiate this progression? Just how much license does the apparently closer correspondence between author and writing persona give me to believe that I know what Coetzee ‘really’ thinks or believes?' (Publication abstract)
Slow Man Overboard : J.M. Coetzee on Australian Hospitality Maria Takolander , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Telling Stories : Australian Life and Literature 1935–2012 2013; (p. 539-545)
Animal Poetics : Singing the Scorched Tongue Meera Anne Atkinson , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 73 no. 2 2013; (p. 114-121)
The Dog and the Chameleon Poet Anne Collett , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Captured : The Animal within Culture 2013; (p. 131-151)
The Gate Deferred : J.M. Coetzee and the Battle Against Doubt Scott Esposito , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 73 no. 3 2013; (p. 90-111)
'Esposito writes of Coetzee's characters (it is not Elizabeth Costello alone) in effect morally naked at the Gate, awaiting admission after - or so they think - the passing of a last judgement, but what is it that is expected of them, and what is this a gate to? (David Brooks, 'Editorial' p. 6)
Strange Kinships : Embodiment and Belief in J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello Fiona Jenkins , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , October vol. 28 no. 3 2013; (p. 15-27)
The ‘Hermeneutics of Equivocation’ in JM Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello Fiona Hile , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 12 no. 1 2012;
'Much has been made of the purported insignificance of the postscript that appends JM Coetzee's eleventh novel, Elizabeth Costello. In J.M. Coetzee's Austerities, Graham Bradshaw writes that 'Apart from some searching pages in an essay by Lucy Graham on "Textual Transvestism", Coetzee's "Letter" has barely been discussed, and when it became the "Postscript" to Elizabeth Costello one reviewer complained that it had no connection with that work'. In "The Subject and Infinity", the French philosopher Alain Badiou re-evaluates Jacques Lacan's notorious formulas of sexuation to argue that 'Lacan only summons the infinite to dismiss it.' What Badiou wants to do then is give 'full recognition to the existence of the infinite' and to insist that 'the infinite of inaccessibility is not adequate. What must be discovered is the affirmative force of the infinite, which is always lodged in some axiomatic decision' (227). This essay argues that the reader needs to axiomatically decide to further investigate the seemingly nonsensical inclusion of the Postscript in Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello, in order to encounter this affirmative force.' (Author's abstract)
Arias in the Prison of Opinion : Coetzee's Late Novels Robert Hahn , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Kenyon Review , Winter vol. 34 no. 1 2012; (p. 176-196, 200)
'Hahn shares the opinions of J. M. Coetzee's late novels. The appearance of Disgrace (1999) solidified the already ample prestige of Coetzee, garnering him a rare second Booker Prize and providing the final piece of evidence for his Nobel Prize. The awards and the critical acclaim were not unexpected, since Coetzee's seven previous novels (notably Waiting for the Barbarians and Life & Times of Michael K) had by then secured their author a prodigious international reputation and made him the subject of intense scholarly attention and discussion. The surprise of Disgrace was its popular success.' (Editor's abstract)
Elizabeth Costello and the Ethics of Embodiment Elizabeth MacFarlane , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: New Scholar , 1 September vol. 1 no. 1 2011; (p. 57-68)
'In J. M. Coetzee's 2003 book Elizabeth Costello, the title character's son watches as she gives a painful radio interview, and thinks: 'A writer, not a thinker. Writers and thinkers: chalk and cheese. No, not chalk and cheese: fish and fowl. But which is she, the fish or the fowl? Which is her medium: water or air?' Coetzee's Costello books challenge the common divide between writing and thinking and raise various questions around the traditional elevation of reason above embodiment in contemporary scholarship. This paper takes the 'late style' of J. M. Coetzee's 2003 book Elizabeth Costello and 2005 book Slow Man and uses them as a lens through which to reread his previous books, both novels and criticism, while exploring Coetzee's preoccupation with the act of writing and the position of the writer. It also addresses the ethical questions surrounding fictional embodiment: Why embody another? what good does it do? could it, in fact, do harm? and in what terms are we to describe the relationship between author and character? In this paper I posit the language of analogy and metaphor, of figures of speech, as neither 'human weaknesses,' as philosophers like Thomas Nagel and Peter Singer may see them, nor as 'contagions,' but as sites of clarification, equivalent in many ways to the uneasy ethical lines between writer and written.' (Author's abstract)
Giving Up Control: Narrative Authority and Animal Experience in Coetzee and Kafka Michael O'Sullivan , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Mosaic , June vol. 44 no. 2 2011; (p. 119-135)
Animal experience is central to the fiction of J.M. Coetzee and Franz Kafka. In light of new approaches to animal awareness in science and philosophy, this essay investigates how Coetzee's deliberations on the animal, initially by way of Kafka, extend the range of narrative authority and reappraise human empathy.
Metaphor as Contagion : Notes on the Postscript of JM Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello Elizabeth MacFarlane , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT : Journal of Writing and Writing Programs , October vol. 15 no. 2 2011;

'This paper engages with the postscript of JM Coetzee's 2003 novel Elizabeth Costello with the intention of introducing the concept that Coetzee's late works act as 'postscripts' to his previous body of writing. It proposes that every act of writing, as particularly demonstrated in the suspended poetics of metaphor and analogy, is an act of sacrifice, as evinced by Lady Chandos in Coetzee's Postscript: 'Always it is not what I say, but something else!' (Coetzee 2003: 228). The paper observes the deficiency of language, the writer's attempt nonetheless, and the inevitable resultant ruptures in text and self. The article pursues these ideas through both critical and creative writing. ' (Author's abstract)

Secular Study and Suffering: J.M. Coetzee's 'The Humanities in Africa' Katherine Hallemeier , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Scrutiny2 , vol. 16 no. 1 2011; (p. 42-52)
'Prominent literary philosophers as diverse as Martha Nussbaum, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak have envisioned a role for the humanities in fostering more ethical relationships on a global scale. Through a close reading of JM Coetzee's fifth “lesson” in Elizabeth Costello: eight lessons, this paper interrogates the limits of the humanities for promoting secular salvation. “Lesson five: the humanities in Africa”, I argue, troubles the distinction between secular teaching and religious faith as alternatives to living in a world imbued with suffering, by suggesting that neither the humanities nor religion materially offers an escape from suffering – that neither secular nor divine salvation exists beyond hope and faith. The lesson asks: do the humanities offer anything besides the promise of salvation to its students? If the secular salvation offered by the humanities fails to engage substantively with what one of Coetzee's characters calls “the reality of Africa”, despite calls for mutual understanding or an understanding of mutuality, how do we rethink the humanities? How do we imagine, and how might we re-imagine, the relationship between the humanities and quotidian suffering? Perhaps as obsessive, repetitive, imperfect performances, both the humanities and religion exist as rituals through which to live with others who are (also) suffering.'
The Other Voice : J. M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello Mahrukh Khan , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Aumla , May no. 115 2011; (p. 1-19)
J. M. Coetzee's Australian Realism Elleke Boehmer , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Postcolonial Poetics : Genre and Form 2011; (p. 202-218) Strong Opinions : J. M. Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction 2011; (p. 3-18)
y Acts of Visitation : The Narrative of J.M. Coetzee María J. López , Amsterdam New York (City) : Rodopi , 2011 Z1880004 2011 single work criticism

'This study traces, in J.M. Coetzee's fictional and non-fictional production, an imaginative and intellectual masterplot deriving from Coetzee's perception of European presence in (South) Africa as having its origin in an act of illegitimate penetration and fraudulent visitation. In Coetzee's novels, the historical and political problem of a hostile occupation and unfair distribution of the land finds a correspondence in the domestic space of house and farm, and the uneasy cohabitation of its occupants, along with the relation between hosts and guests. The seminal dimension of the categories of penetration and visitation is highlighted, as these are shown to operate not only on a spatial level but also on an epistemological, physical, psychological, hermeneutic, metafictional and ethical one: we encounter literary and psychological secrets that resist decipherment, bodies that cannot be penetrated, writers depicted as intruders, parents that ask to be welcomed by their children.
This study also identifies, in Coetzee's narrative, an ethical proposal grounded on a logic of excess and unconditionality - a logic of 'not enough' - lying behind certain acts of hospitality, friendship, kindness, care, and guidance to the gate of death, acts that may transform prevailing unequal socio-historical conditions and hostile personal relationships, characterized by a logic of parasitism and intrusion. As the figure of the writer progressively gains explicit prominence in Coetzee's literary production, special attention will be paid to it, as it alternately appears as secretary and master, migrant and intruder, pervert and foe, citizen and neighbour. Overall, Acts of Visitation analyzes how Coetzee's works depict the (South) African land, the Karoo farm, the familial household or the writer's and literary character's house as simultaneously contending and redemptive sites in which urgent historical, ethical, and metafictional issues are spatially explored and dramatized.' (Publishers' website)

Works published before Coetzee's arrival in Australia including, Dusklands, In the Heart of the Country, Waiting for the Barbarians, Life &​ Times of Michael K, Age of Iron, Disgrace, Foe, Boyhood and The Master of Petersburg are also discussed in this critical work.

Proximate Reading : Australian Literature in Transnational Reading Frameworks Ken Gelder , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , Special Issue 2010;
Ken Gelder introduces the concept of proximate reading as: ‘a way of thinking about reading practices broadly speaking, but in particular, a way of conceptualizing reading and literary writing in contemporary transnational frameworks. Proximate reading opens up a number of aspects of reading and literary practice that are to do with the way readers negotiate place, position and what can be called literary sociality (that is, relations between readers, texts and the meanings that bind these relations together), where these things are understood and evaluated in terms of degrees of closeness and/or distance, that is, proximity.' (1)
Cultural Criticism in the Australian Fiction Patrick Hayes , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: J. M. Coetzee and the Novel : Writing and Politics after Beckett 2010; (p. 223-259)
'This concluding chapter considers Coetzee's Australian fiction in relation to a longstanding tradition of cultural criticism directed at the moral and political condition of modernity. It has recently been argued that this tradition, for all its many differences of emphasis, has as its shared characteristic the deployment of a ‘cultural principle’ that displaces politics and itself lays claim to the role of social authority: this chapter sets Coetzee in the context of the most important new thinking about the tradition of cultural criticism, making special reference to the recent debate between Stefan Collini and Francis Mulhern. It shows that Coetzee sustainedly tries to refuse the moral and political simplifications that at times have characterized this tradition—allusion is made in particular to the work of Benda, Arnold, Nietzsche, and T. S. Eliot—and that his fiction opens up a line of cultural criticism that more subtly navigates the complex terrain of political modernity.' Source: Patrick Hayes.
Writers Go to the Dogs ... and Cats, Birds, Monkeys, Pigs Stephen Downes , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Australian Literary Review , February vol. 4 no. 1 2009; (p. 24-25)
Eventful Event Katharine England , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 6 September 2003; (p. 13)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
An Invitation to Think Stella Clarke , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 6-7 September 2003; (p. 13)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Beyond Belief Anthony Macris , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 9 September vol. 121 no. 6389 2003; (p. 76-77)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Coetzee's Questions David Cohen , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The West Australian , 13 September 2003; (p. 14)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Shortcuts : The Essential Week : Fiction 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 13-14 September 2003; (p. 10)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
A Marriage of One Man's Two Minds A. P. Riemer , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 13-14 September 2003; (p. 16)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
The Jaws of the Trap Kerryn Goldsworthy , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , October no. 255 2003; (p. 41-42)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Lucidity and Grace Mark Lessons Jennifer Moran , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 18 October 2003; (p. 1a-2a)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Author Tour Judith Shulevitz , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The New York Times Book Review , 26 October vol. 108 no. 43 2003; (p. 15-16)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Lecture a Delicious Device Don Riddell , David Sly , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The Adelaide Review , December no. 243 2003; (p. 30)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel ; A Death in Brazil : A Book of Omissions Peter Robb 2003 single work autobiography
Tears for Dead Fish Oliver Herford , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: The Times Literary Supplement , 5 September no. 5240 2003; (p. 5-6)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
A Frog's Life James Wood , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: London Review of Books , 23 October vol. 25 no. 20 2003; (p. 15-16)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
J M Coetzee: Interrogation of a Writer Giles Hugo , 2004 single work review
— Appears in: Island , Autumn no. 96 2004; (p. 80-84)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Six Prizes but Only One Award Malcolm Knox , 2004 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 17 June 2004; (p. 14)

— Review of Three Dog Night Peter Goldsworthy 2003 single work novel ; Slow Water Annamarie Rustom Jagose 2003 single work novel ; Seven Types of Ambiguity Elliot Perlman 2003 single work novel ; My Life as a Fake Peter Carey 2003 single work novel ; The Great Fire Shirley Hazzard 2003 single work novel ; Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Knox reviews each of the six novels nominated for the 2004 Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Second Look Peter Craven , 2005 single work review
— Appears in: The Sunday Age , 4 September 2005; (p. 16)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Untitled Vicky Lebeau , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die 2006; (p. 933)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Untitled Bradley Poole , 2007 single work review
— Appears in: Colloquy : Text Theory Critique , May no. 13 2007;

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Love and Death, and Animals Too David H Lynn , 2005 single work review
— Appears in: Kenyon Review , Winter vol. 27 no. 1 2005; (p. 124-133)

— Review of Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons J. M. Coetzee 2003 single work novel
Literary Names Give Award Fresh Life James Hall , 2004 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 30 April 2004; (p. 15)
The Tyranny of the Literal James Ley , 2005 single work essay
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , April no. 270 2005; (p. 32-38)
James Ley examines the act of reading literary novels and the interpretation that must occur within each reader, including understanding the author's use of irony. Although the task may sometimes be challenging, Ley concludes that reading is 'a creative act. Unlike almost everything we are encouraged to consider entertainment, it is an active pursuit. Without this process of interpretation we cannot know ourselves.'
The Babushka Doll of Narrative Jane Sullivan , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 3 February 2007; (p. 30)
Tilting on the Axis of Evil: Australian Literature and Moral Relativism Dennis Haskell , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: Explorations in Australian Literature 2006; (p. 1-16)
Dennis Haskell discusses depictions of moral relativism in Australian literature. He cites various examples including the characters of Elizabeth Costello (in Elizabeth Costello) and Ellen Roxburgh (in A Fringe of Leaves).
Shattering the Word-Mirror in Elizabeth Costello : J. M. Coetzee's Deconstructive Experiment Thorsten Carstensen , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Journal of Commonwealth Literature , vol. 42 no. 1 2007; (p. 79-96)
The author aims to demonstrate 'how Elizabeth Costello undermines the conventions of mimetic referentiality and blends narrative and essay' (80), offering a Barthean 'writerly text,' 'allowing for an interpretive pluralism that elevates the reader to the rank of co-writer' (81).
Coetzee's Haunting of Australian Literature Maria Takolander , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , Special Issue 2007; (p. 37-51)
Takolander argues that: 'Literary texts, or arguably any texts -- including genre fiction, television soaps and blockbuster films -- in making possible an experience of haunting and thus of transformation occupy an ethical space'. She discusses ways in which J. M. Coetzee's novels Elizabeth Costello and Slow Man 'manifest a deep engagement with the transformative and ethical potentialities of literature'.
Re-Imagining Communities Helen Tiffin , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Nation in Imagination : Essays on Nationalism, Sub-Nationalisms and Narration 2007; (p. 21-36)
Helen Tiffin illustrates her argument about the re-imagining of relations between humans and animals with references to J. M. Coetzee's The Lives of Animals and Elizabeth Costello, Yann Martel's Life of Pi and Timothy Findley's Not Wanted on the Voyage. Tiffin concludes: 'Though their approaches to the issue are very different, all regard the connections between linguistic cognition, carnivorousness, and animal sacrifice as areas to be addressed in the conceptualising of less anthropomorphic and imperialist ideas of community'.
Criticism and Fiction in Australia Ken Gelder , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: Overland , Spring no. 192 2008; (p. 71-76)
This paper is a reworked version of Ken Gelder's presentation for his debate with Peter Craven during the 2008 Sydney Writers' Festival.
Writers Go to the Dogs ... and Cats, Birds, Monkeys, Pigs Stephen Downes , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Australian Literary Review , February vol. 4 no. 1 2009; (p. 24-25)
Staging John Coetzee/Elizabeth Costello Heather Waldon , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: Literature and Theology , vol. 22 no. 3 2008; (p. 280-294)

This article examines the persona of Elizabeth Costello as performed by J.M. Coetzee in public lectures, articles, and the novels Elizabeth Costello and Slow Man. She rejects one of the most common critical responses to this staging – that Coetzee cowardly uses Costello to voice his own provocative, eccentric views, conveniently heaping the burden upon a far more vulnerable female character. Instead, she argues that Coetzee deliberately removes himself from the position of the “great male author” to speak from a position which lacks authority. He mobilises the “destabilising energies of the feminine” to engage with subjects which are gendered feminine in our culture – “embodiment, death, the imaginary, evil, animals, literature herself” – and to do so “outside the terms established by the dominant discourse”.

Walton also argues that Coetzee uses Costello to explore the responsibilities of the novelist, and the ultimate failure of literature to achieve those responsibilities. For example, just as Costello is convinced that humans are distinct in their ability to enter imaginatively into the consciousness of others, yet never justifies this belief with convincing examples, Coetzee’s staging of Costello “impresses upon us the obligation of literature to respond through imaginative association to the claims of others as well as the impossibility of meeting this demand”.

Rex Oedipus : The Ethics of Sympathy in Recent Work by J. M. Coetzee Kate McInturff , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Postcolonial Text , vol. 3 no. 4 2007;
'The article considers Judith Butler's proposition that state and patriarchal family relations cannot be separated. It further considers J.M. Coetzee's proposition that the assertion of kinship is a first step in more sympathetic and ultimately more ethical relations between beings (between men and women, between humans of different races, and between humans and animals). The article argues that the assertion of kinship (and of sympathy for one's kin) is not ethical in itself if kinship relations are still figured in a patriarchal model. Coetzee's depiction of sexual and racial violence in contemporary South Africa provides a useful model for the interrogation of the violence concomitant to patriarchal state and family relations. It further provides the basis for an interrogation of the ethics of extending sympathy for other beings without first considering the respective positions of power held by the person who is sympathising and the person to whom the sympathy is extended.' -- from the Postcolonial Text website.
A Curse on Literature! A Discussion of the Eighth Lesson of J M Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello Elizabeth MacFarlane , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: Traffic , no. 8 2006; (p. 181-195)

'In the final "lesson" of Coetzee's 2003 novel, Elizabeth Costello, the title character is faced with a courtroom straight out of Kafka. She must here confront her identity as a writer and provide what is ultimately a performance of belief. My discussion uses Kafka's precedent story "Before the Law" and Derrida's essay of the same name to enquire into what, for Coetzee, are the questions surrounding the author on the stand about the difference between the event or practice of literature and the Law of literature. And further: how does an author reconcile of embody both timelessness and transience when the pen hits the page? Coetzee has created a specific character with strangely universal motives; the discussion addresses the kinds of divides this engenders on the page and in the reader.' ( Source: Elizabeth MacFarlane)

Coetzee's Acts of Genre in the Later Works: Truth-Telling, Fiction and the Public Intellectual Jane Poyner , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: J. M. Coetzee and the Paradox of Postcolonial Authorship 2009; (p. 167-184)
Poyner argues that 'an increasingly meta-discursive mode in Coetzee's fiction ... coincides with his departure from South Africa for Adelaide, Australia' and that, while Coetzee's 'later works may seem to have less relevance in a book about postcolonial authorship, they do make important contributions to debates on intellectualism and the author's authority pertinent to the postcolonial field'.
Coetzee's Estrangements David Attwell , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: Novel : A Forum on Fiction , Spring/Summer vol. 41 no. 2/3 2008; (p. 229-243)
'Place in J.M. Coetzee's writing is seldom just home, in any comfortable sense, nor is there the process of re-familiarization that one finds in so much postcolonial writing that answers metropolitan representations of colonial space. On the contrary, place in Coetzee is a site of epistemological dualisms, of failed self/other relationships, of incommensurability, of aesthetic destruction: "too much truth for art to hold" (Doubling 99). Intimacy and detachment, in equal measure, in Coetzee's relationship with South Africa: that is the dynamic I wish to explore in this essay.' (p.229)
Proximate Reading : Australian Literature in Transnational Reading Frameworks Ken Gelder , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , Special Issue 2010;
Ken Gelder introduces the concept of proximate reading as: ‘a way of thinking about reading practices broadly speaking, but in particular, a way of conceptualizing reading and literary writing in contemporary transnational frameworks. Proximate reading opens up a number of aspects of reading and literary practice that are to do with the way readers negotiate place, position and what can be called literary sociality (that is, relations between readers, texts and the meanings that bind these relations together), where these things are understood and evaluated in terms of degrees of closeness and/or distance, that is, proximity.' (1)
y The Wounded Animal: J. M. Coetzee and the Difficulty of Reality in Literature and Philosophy Stephen Mulhall , Princeton : Princeton University Press , 2009 Z1735643 2009 single work criticism

'In 1997, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist J. M. Coetzee, invited to Princeton University to lecture on the moral status of animals, read a work of fiction about an eminent novelist, Elizabeth Costello, invited to lecture on the moral status of animals at an American college. Coetzee's lectures were published in 1999 as The Lives of Animals, and reappeared in 2003 as part of his novel Elizabeth Costello; and both lectures and novel have attracted the critical attention of a number of influential philosophers–including Peter Singer, Cora Diamond, Stanley Cavell, and John McDowell.

'In The Wounded Animal, Stephen Mulhall closely examines Coetzee's writings about Costello, and the ways in which philosophers have responded to them, focusing in particular on their powerful presentation of both literature and philosophy as seeking, and failing, to represent reality–in part because of reality's resistance to such projects of understanding, but also because of philosophy's unwillingness to learn from literature how best to acknowledge that resistance. In so doing, Mulhall is led to consider the relations among reason, language, and the imagination, as well as more specific ethical issues concerning the moral status of animals, the meaning of mortality, the nature of evil, and the demands of religion. The ancient quarrel between philosophy and literature here displays undiminished vigor and renewed significance.' (Publisher's summary)

y The Politics of Humiliation in the Novels of J.M. Coetzee Hania A. M. Nashef , New York (City) : Routledge , 2009 Z1781914 2009 single work criticism 'In this volume, Nashef looks at J.M. Coetzee's concern with universal suffering and the inevitable humiliation of the human being as manifest in his novels. Though several theorists have referred to the theme of human degradation in Coetzee's work, no detailed study has been made of this area of concern especially with respect to how pervasive it is across Coetzee's literary output to date. This study examines what J.M. Coetzee's novels portray as the circumstances that contribute to the humiliation of the individual--namely the abuse of language, master and slave interplay, aging and senseless waiting--and how these conditions can lead to the alienation and marginalization of the individual' (Publisher's blurb)
Elizabeth Costello and the Ethics of Embodiment Elizabeth MacFarlane , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: New Scholar , 1 September vol. 1 no. 1 2011; (p. 57-68)
'In J. M. Coetzee's 2003 book Elizabeth Costello, the title character's son watches as she gives a painful radio interview, and thinks: 'A writer, not a thinker. Writers and thinkers: chalk and cheese. No, not chalk and cheese: fish and fowl. But which is she, the fish or the fowl? Which is her medium: water or air?' Coetzee's Costello books challenge the common divide between writing and thinking and raise various questions around the traditional elevation of reason above embodiment in contemporary scholarship. This paper takes the 'late style' of J. M. Coetzee's 2003 book Elizabeth Costello and 2005 book Slow Man and uses them as a lens through which to reread his previous books, both novels and criticism, while exploring Coetzee's preoccupation with the act of writing and the position of the writer. It also addresses the ethical questions surrounding fictional embodiment: Why embody another? what good does it do? could it, in fact, do harm? and in what terms are we to describe the relationship between author and character? In this paper I posit the language of analogy and metaphor, of figures of speech, as neither 'human weaknesses,' as philosophers like Thomas Nagel and Peter Singer may see them, nor as 'contagions,' but as sites of clarification, equivalent in many ways to the uneasy ethical lines between writer and written.' (Author's abstract)
Giving Up Control: Narrative Authority and Animal Experience in Coetzee and Kafka Michael O'Sullivan , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Mosaic , June vol. 44 no. 2 2011; (p. 119-135)
Animal experience is central to the fiction of J.M. Coetzee and Franz Kafka. In light of new approaches to animal awareness in science and philosophy, this essay investigates how Coetzee's deliberations on the animal, initially by way of Kafka, extend the range of narrative authority and reappraise human empathy.
Metaphor as Contagion : Notes on the Postscript of JM Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello Elizabeth MacFarlane , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT : Journal of Writing and Writing Programs , October vol. 15 no. 2 2011;

'This paper engages with the postscript of JM Coetzee's 2003 novel Elizabeth Costello with the intention of introducing the concept that Coetzee's late works act as 'postscripts' to his previous body of writing. It proposes that every act of writing, as particularly demonstrated in the suspended poetics of metaphor and analogy, is an act of sacrifice, as evinced by Lady Chandos in Coetzee's Postscript: 'Always it is not what I say, but something else!' (Coetzee 2003: 228). The paper observes the deficiency of language, the writer's attempt nonetheless, and the inevitable resultant ruptures in text and self. The article pursues these ideas through both critical and creative writing. ' (Author's abstract)

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