About half an hour ago, a friend of mine lamented that she has been suffering from a bout of writer's block and -- BAM! -- it hit me. I have been suffering from reader's block. That's why it has been taking me so long to get through some of the criticism I have been reading. Once the flashbulb went off in my mind (I should emphasize that the flashbulb in question is metaphorical; I am not, as far as I can tell, some sort of Philip K. Dick/Ridley Scott replicant), I felt a tiny bit better. Once in a while, I find, it's nice to label something, compartmentalize it, and make it manageable. So there, reader's block! I stick my tongue at thee!
Anyway, once I stomped the reader's block into submission, I finished reading the introductory essay Derek Attridge penned for the special issue of interventions devoted to Disgrace. As always, Attridge synthesizes an extremely large amount of material (in this case, the rapidly-expanding critical discussion of Coetzee's 1999 novel) into an extremely readable and thoughtful essay. For anyone interested in a quick introduction to the various strains of scholarly debate surrounding Disgrace, Attridge's essay is a wonderful place to start. One of the more pleasing aspects of Attridge's essay, too, is his staunch support for reading Coetzee's novel as literature rather than "historical reportage, political prescription, or allegorical scheme," defending literature as "a challenge to other discourses, including the discourse of politics, which so often attempts to close it down" and as a text that "disturbs. . .any simple faith in the political efficacy of literature - a faith upon which some styles of postcolonial criticism are built" (319-320).
For tomorrow: Read another essay.
Attridge, Derek. "J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace: Introduction." interventions 4.3 (2002): 315-320.