Sobriquet 56.10

Having lost several hours of prime internet access to the vicissitudes of summertime electrical storms, I find myself writing tonight's entry quite a bit later than I would otherwise have done. I mean, I am routinely awake after two in the morning, but I am a bit sleepier than I would prefer to be when trying to write something of even marginal readability. Oh, well. At least I have the Descendents to keep me energized this evening...

At any rate, I used my Saturday to read a bit more criticism on Elizabeth Costello. Well, actually, I thought I would be reading about Elizabeth Costello but the article I plucked from the stack -- Kate McInturff's "Rex Oedipus: The Ethics of Sympathy in Recent Work by J. M. Coetzee" -- ended up having more to do with Disgrace than Coetzee's subsequent novel. This, of course, is likely the result of the essay having been indexed by the MLA after I last scoured the database for Disgrace-centered criticism.

So. Getting to the article: McInturff draws on Elizabeth Costello's oft-discussed fascination with the human capacity for a sympathetic imagination that dissolves the species barrier in an effort to establish the ways in which Coetzee explores intergender, interracial, and interspecies power dynamics. The theoretical framework with which McInturff shapes her discussion of Coetzee borrows heavily from previous research by Anne McClintock and Judith Butler and stages a well-reasoned critique of the patriarchal ideologies influencing post-Enlightenment familial structure and the socio-political analogues that have shaped so much of the troubled post-apartheid culture Coetzee examines in Disgrace. Extending Costello's desire to do away with the human/non-human binaries justifying the abusive treatment of those beings (both human and non-human) that people regard as somehow inferior to themselves to the exploitative racial and gender hierarchies at the heart of Coetzee's 1999 novel, McInturff adds a passionate voice to one of the more crucial veins of Coetzee criticism.

For tomorrow: Read or write.

Work Cited

McInturff, Kate. "Rex Oedipus: The Ethics of Sympathy in Recent Work by J. M. Coetzee." Postcolonial Text 3.4 (2007).


minxy said…
The article actually seems like it would be quite interesting, though it would probably be even more interesting if I'd read any of the novels it mentions. If I had the knack for understanding literary criticism, I might read it. :)
Kate McInturff said…
What a lovely little gift to fall from the sky today. I left academia for policy and advocacy work and I often wonder if anyone other than myself read the last couple of articles...

The least I can do is recommend something much more enjoyable to read -- Australian author David Malouf -- in particular Remembering Babylon and The Great World.
Hi, Kate!

Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I'm glad my little blog could add a smile to your day.

For what it is worth, your sense of having written essays that no one other than yourself will have read is, I think, unfortunately quite common. Of the emails and comments I have received from critics I have mentioned on my blog, most have expressed a degree of elation that someone, anyone has read the result of their hard work. I, too, have dealt with that same anxiety. What I can say, though, is that there are people searching for specific articles (yours included) that end up on my website, so, it seems, we're not all writing in a vacuum after all! But, boy, it does feel that way sometimes.

And thank you for the reading suggestions. I will add both books to my "to read" list.

Thanks again so much for stopping by and taking the time to say hello.


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