How I spent my friday night.. Elizabeth Costello by J.M Coetzee

“Yo don’t be a hater!”

Tutors try, very hard I might add, to get university students to appreciate the powers of the Coetzee, or Coetz as I like to call him. But he is hated. His slick literary name-dropping, his sly sexism and long ramblings about arty-farty schtik. Perhaps expected for a literature nobel prize winner. But I’m no hater, Coetz I am starting to you respecct you a little bit more.

It is the characters I hate, in Disgrace it was Lurie who was a chavanistic pig. A literary one who seemed to reflect that selfish human raw quality that I hated because its real. But I am starting to learn that hated characters can teach you things, if you are responding to the work in a passionate nature (even if a hated one) then the writer is doing a brilliant job.

Elizabeth Costello’s character is not as dislikeable as David Lurie. She is head-strong and reminded me of Germaine Greer throughout the text, wanting her own way, arguing against a widely held belief like eating meat. What I think Coetzee does extremely well is dialogue and dropping little intimate details about the characters in the text. He doesn’t get caught up in epic like descriptions but can sum a character up neatly. However Elizabeth Costello does have an extensive amount of dialogue in the form of lectures. Yes, it contains a complete lecture, which Coetzee has conducted.

This book doesn’t have much a plot like Disgrace does but it does say alot about Elizabeth’s life as an academic and writer. It is a book that would appeal to students or academics, it is depressing and very heavy on philosophy. Not an enjoyable read but there were small nuggets of dialogue and action that I seized with great joy.

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