Coetzee has made this project difficult for himself. Occasional writing--writing that includes graduation speeches, acceptance speeches, or even academic lectures--is a less than auspicious form around which to build a long work of fiction. A powerful central character engaged in a challenging stage of life might sustain such a work. Yet, at the start, Coetzee declares that Elizabeth is "old and tired," and her best book, The House on Eccles Street is long in her past. Elizabeth Costello lacks a progressive plot and offers little development over the course of each new performance at the lectern. Readers are given Elizabeth fully formed with only brief glimpses of her past sexual dalliances and literary efforts.
In the end, Elizabeth Costello seems undecided about its own direction. When Elizabeth is brought to a final reckoning at the gates of the afterlife, she begins to suspect that she is actually in hell, "or at least purgatory: a purgatory of clichés." Perhaps Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello, which can be read as an extended critique of clichéd writing, is a portrait of this purgatory. While some readers may find Coetzee's philosophical prose sustenance enough on the journey, some will turn back at the gate. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Coetzee is in the top echelon of 20th Century/21st Century authors. His Waiting for the Barbarians is definitely a classic.Published 8 months ago by john bennett
"Elizabeth Costello" was written by a bitter man trying (unsuccessfully) to sound like a woman! Read morePublished 9 months ago by Joanne
This felt like a collection of great essays pulled together as fiction...and for me, that worked. All of the chapters, I felt, stood independently, and they made a unique whole.Published 12 months ago by Bunny A. Goodjohn
I managed to read the entire book, which consisted of an incoherent garble of snatches of philosophy and inter-departmental debates among literature professors. Read morePublished 13 months ago by M. Konikoff
ELIZABETH COSTELLO is an episodic literary novel that Coetzee writes in the form of eight "lessons" and a postscript. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Ethan Cooper
The book is advertised as a novel. It is on the list of 1001 books you should read before you die. But it is a short story collection. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Mark L. Miller
I have bought all the copies I could find of this self published book about a lake near mine. A very interesting story about a very interesting family well known in early 20th... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Shannon O'Toole
The main pattern of the 8 "lessons", the term reminding one vaguely of Bertolt Brecht's "Lehrstücke", looks like this: The fictitious writer Elizabeth Costello, born in 1928,... Read morePublished on February 17, 2012 by Diethelm Thom
Although quite a few paragraphs were poignantly written, I honestly did not get major chunks of this book. Read morePublished on October 17, 2011 by Tubby