Sobriquet 43.28

One of the more difficult aspects of the dissertation-writing process, for me, has been ensuring that I have read virtually everything on Coetzee. Every time I finish photocopying and ordering articles, it seems, I come across a reference to another, even-harder-to-find essay that I must then attempt to locate. More often than not, the source of the article I cannot find is a South African publication ('cuz, you know, I'm writing about one of that nation's most famous authors), which makes it considerably more difficult to obtain in the States than, say, a Canadian magazine. If anything, the process has taught me that supporting freely-assessable web-based e-journals should figure high on the list of the Academy's priorities. There's so much information out there and we have the means to distribute it efficiently and cost-effectively. . .let's do it!

Anyway, I read Carrol Clarkson's "'Done because we are too menny': Ethics and Identity in J M Coetzee's Disgrace" this evening. Focusing largely on the ethical implications of Darwinian theory, Clarkson uses Coetzee's allusions to Hardy's Jude the Obscure to enter into a discussion of human ephemerality in Disgrace. Ultimately, Clarkson argues, Coetzee presents his reader with a document that emphasizes "the transtemporality of the individual life as a carrier of something larger than" one's own existence (87). Also, in a completely unrelated note, Clarkson pens what may be the single greatest bit of prose I have ever seen in a piece of literary criticism, especially when taken out of context:
Humankind shares 40% of its genes with the banana. This may surprise you, but I would hazard a guess that the staggering ontological fact in itself does little to appease your general sense of miserable alienation, let alone your more profound European Angst... (84)
Overall, Clarkson's essay is a solid study of the role of animals in Coetzee's novel as agents of humility, their very existence forcing humanity to reconsider its assumptions about the value of individual existence.

For tomorrow: Read another essay.

Work Cited

Clarkson, Carrol. "'Done because we are too menny': Ethics and Identity in J M Coetzee's Disgrace" Current Writing 15.2 (2003): 77-90.


From Minxy:

I always suspected that we're all just bananas. HA! Just kidding. Keep up the good work and good luck finding those more obscure articles. :)
From Carol Clarkson:

I've just read your brief review of my essay on J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace (dated 27 June). Thank you! You've really made my day. From our perspective in South Africa, it can be frustrating to publish in local journals, and then wonder whether anyone will ever know about it - so it's really gratifying to know that sometimes your work is read, and appreciated!

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