I got through another two essays today, which was a nice bit of progress. I'm still inching along at the proverbial snail's pace, but my "read" stack is beginning to hold its own when lined up next to the "unread" pile (I should emphasize that this is a figurative statement; I have not been spending time carefully piling photocopied journal articles).
The first essay I read, Gillian Gane's "Unspeakable Injuries in Disgrace and David's Story" addresses troubling representations of women in both Coetzee's and Wicomb's novels. Gane's reading of Lucy's rape and its aftermath in Disgrace, a topic to which she devotes significant attention, is among the more convincing interpretations of the scene I have seen. I also find her reading of the novel as "dis-raced" particularly interesting. Though I do not wholly agree with her, Gane's essay strikes me as an exceedingly solid example of an important, Lucy-centric strain in the novel's criticism.
The second essay I read (or, rather, re-read) was Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's essay "Ethics and Politics in Tagore, Coetzee, and Certain Scenes of Teaching." Spivak's paper is, as one familiar with the author might expect, rather heavily theory-laden. I mean Levinas enters in the second sentence of the paper, Derrida in the third, and Kant in the fourth. But this is to be expected. Spivak is, after all, one of the academic superstars for whom abstruse poststructural rhetoric has produced many a bulging paycheck. That said, Spivak's paper is considerably more readable than much of her writing, though her language does occasionally resemble that of a child presenting a book report (introducing a quote with "These are some of the daughter Lucy's last words in the novel" reminds me of statements like "This is the sound a puppy makes" ). Still, she does make a few interesting observations, including reading Lucy's response to her attack as "a refusal to be raped" (21). All-in-all, this essay will likely serve those Coetzee scholars interested in aphasia and other linguistic considerations rather well. The highlight, though, is Spivak's one-sentence summarization of "Can the Subaltern Speak," suggesting that the oft-maligned essay could in fact, as many frustrated academics have claimed, be summed up in one brief sentence.
For tomorrow: Another essay.
Gane, Gillian. "Unspeakable Injuries in Disgrace and David's Story" Kunapipi 24.1-2 (2002): 101-113.
Spivak. Gayatri Chakravorty. "Ethics and Politics in Tagore, Coetzee, and Certain Scenes of Teaching." Diacritics 32.3-4 (2002): 17-31.