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y separately published work icon Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 2003... 2003 Elizabeth Costello : Eight Lessons
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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 .
      image of person or book cover 999431723395770344.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 233p.
      Edition info: 1st Australian ed.
      ISBN: 1740512650 (hbk.), 9781740512657 (hbk.)
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Secker and Warburg ,
      2003 .
      image of person or book cover 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),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Viking ,
      2003 .
      image of person or book cover 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 .
      image of person or book cover 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 .
      image of person or book cover 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 .
      image of person or book cover 3295358805516888432.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 231p.
      ISBN: 0142004812 (pbk.), 9780142004814 (pbk.)
Alternative title: Elizabeth Costello
Language: Swedish
    • Stockholm,
      c
      Sweden,
      c
      Scandinavia, Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Brombergs Bokforlag ,
      2003 .
      image of person or book cover 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

Interceptionality, or The Ambiguity of the Albatross Michelle Cahill , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: Sydney Review of Books , August 2018;

'Coleridge wrote that ‘Poetry gives most pleasure when only generally and not perfectly understood.’ In his epic, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ published in 1798, the albatross is an uncertain presence, neither its species or colour is specified. It displays affection, presaging hope, guiding the ship and accompanying its crew for ‘food or play.’ But once the mariner randomly shoots the bird, the albatross becomes a burden, morphing into a symbol of atonement. Unnaturally slung from the mariner’s neck it crosses a boundary between the physical and moral world. The mariner endures seven days without rain or wind, suffering fever, hallucinations, the death of his crew and shipwreck. Native to the south polar seas, albatrosses were rarely sighted by European sailors, an early source being Cook’s voyages. There is overall agreement that Coleridge’s source was George Shelvocke’s account of a black albatross, also known as ‘sooty albatross’ or ‘quakerbird’, which he encountered during his round the world voyage, 1719-22. The bird was shot by the second captain because it was considered an ill-omen when the winds were unfavourable. Certainly, the albatross is othered in the poem, not merely by the laws of hospitality but by its uncharacteristic depiction and by the mythical, male-centred language that Coleridge used.'  (Introduction)

Serving ‘a Male Philosophy’? Elizabeth Costello’s Feminism and Coetzee’s Dialogues with Joyce Michelle Kelly , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , February vol. 33 no. 1 2018;

'In this essay, I show that J. M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello is shaped fundamentally by an engagement with Joyce’s Ulysses. However, the relationship between the two does not reveal itself in the rewriting of Joyce’s ‘Penelope’ that Costello’s literary and feminist reputation relies on, but through a range of references to ‘Scylla and Charybdis’, the ninth episode of Ulysses set in the National Library of Ireland and populated exclusively by men. Elizabeth Costello alludes to ‘Scylla and Charybdis’, I argue, because its philosophical dialogue, its dramatic form, its preoccupation with creativity, its investment in the life and reputation of the writer, and its attentiveness to the materiality of writing, offer Coetzee a model for his literary-philosophical experiments of the period. Drawing on archival evidence and published sources, the essay explores the apparent contradiction between Costello’s avowed feminist reclamation of Molly Bloom and the consistent intertextual engagement with ‘Scylla and Charybdis’, positioning the question of gender centrally within Coetzee’s broader engagement with philosophy in this period.' (Publication abstract)

“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 separately published work icon 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)

The Power of Literature in J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello Suzie Gibson , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Folklore , November no. 30 2015; (p. 193-200)

'The power of literature has the ability to elevate the lives of others, including non-human animals. This is poignantly dramatised in J.M. Coetzee’s novel Elizabeth Costello. The titular character of this fiction asserts that literature has the capacity to imagine and inhabit the existence of others, including non-human animals. If this is possible then animal life can be represented as being just as valuable as a human life. In Elizabeth Costello we are confronted with ethical and moral questions to do with the valuing human above that of non-human animals.'

Source: Abstract.

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
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).
Last amended 2 Dec 2014 10:51:14
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