All right. It's been nearly a fortnight since I have had the time to sit down and write about my dissertation. Between long hours spent behind the wheel, time devoted to my family and friends, excessive humidity, hard (non-academic) work, and an unfortunate lack of internet access, I have barely had the opportunity to read, let alone post any blog entries about that reading. Still, I did manage to read Youth as well as several (admittedly brief) critical essays on Coetzee.
Of the five critical readings, two were book reviews. The first, Michael Upchurch's "Facing 'Disgrace,'" is a solid, if run-of-the mill, reading of Coetzee's novel. Despite finding fault with Coetzee's depiction of females and the novel's often oblique literary allusions, Upchurch ultimately praises Coetzee for his ability to weave a multi-layered narrative out of deceptively "spare...arid" prose ("Facing"). The second review, Susan Ram's excellent "A Comprehension of Life" is one of the most thorough and insightful reviews I have come across, touching on both the novel's more commonly discussed themes as well as several of the book's less obvious concerns.
I also read Derek Attridge's introduction to Coetzee's Inner Workings. Despite reading the essay with the cynicism of someone struggling to muster the energy to keep reading the seemingly endless pile of literary criticism sitting atop his desk, Attridge's argument for the value of reading a single critic's essays makes an awful lot of sense to me. I mean, if we regard the literary critic as a thinker first and foremost, it stands to reason that a comprehensive reading of his or her criticism will often yield a worldview as complex and unified as that of a philosopher.
I also read two journal articles, which I will try to discuss tomorrow. Now, though, I think it's time for bed.
For tomorrow: Read another essay, read some of Coetzee's criticism, or work on my bibliography.
Attridge, Derek. "Introduction." Inner Workings. By J. M. Coetzee. New York: Penguin, 2007. ix-xiv.
Ram, Susan. "A Comprehension of Life." Frontline. 16.25 (1999). Available online.
Upchurch, Michael. "Facing 'Disgrace' -- J . M. Coetzee Creates a Flawed, Intriguing Character in Post-Apartheid South Africa." Seattle Times 7 Nov. 1999. Available online.