I read Kai Easton's "Coetzee's Disgrace: Byron in Italy and the Eastern Cape c. 1820" this evening and really haven't much to say about the essay. If anything, I'm grateful to Easton for providing me with a bit of a break from reading "straight" literary criticism since she devotes a significant portion of the text to a survey of historical and artistic depictions of the Salem region of the Eastern Cape. Although Easton does acknowledge that Rita Barnard, Grant Farred, and Gareth Cornwell have all made significant contributions to the critical discussion surrounding Coetzee's decision to place Lucy's smallholding in the vicinity of Salem-Grahamstown, she feels critics have largely neglected the ways in which the story of Lord Byron's time in Ravenna relates to a region of the Eastern Cape weighed down by the burden of history. Admitting that linking "these two seemingly unrelated plots" may strike readers as peculiar, Easton proceeds in her reading despite sensing that "[t]hese two story-lines may only be tangentially linked by intersecting facts and dates, empirical histories and a network of coincidences and geographical placements" (113, 134). In fact, it occasionally seems as if Easton tries a bit too hard to establish such links. There are undeniably several similarities between the brand of European Romanticism we (perhaps erroneously) associate with Lord Byron and the hyperbolic idealism with which the Eastern Cape has been depicted but the connection remains a loose one. Still, despite relying perhaps a bit too heavily on coincidental points of convergence between the history of the Eastern Cape and Lord Byron's life, Easton's essay does highlight several very interesting aspects of Coetzee's novel and is a valuable companion to the aforementioned studies by Barnard, Cornwell, and Farred.
For tomorrow: Read an article on Disgrace, a bit of Inner Workings, or work on the bibliography.
Easton, Kai. "Coetzee's Disgrace: Byron in Italy and the Eastern Cape c. 1820." Journal of Commonwealth Literature 42.3 (2007): 113-130.
Edited on 2/2/09