Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Elizabeth Costello

Rate this book
Since 1982, J. M. Coetzee has been dazzling the literary world. After eight novels that have won, among other awards, two Booker Prizes, and most recently, the Nobel Prize for literature, J.M. Coetzee has once again crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale. Told through an ingenious series of formal addresses, Elizabeth Costello is, on the surface, the story of a woman's life as a mother, sister, lover, and writer. Yet it is also a profound and haunting meditation on the nature of storytelling.

231 pages, Paperback

First published September 30, 2003

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

J.M. Coetzee

151 books4,589 followers
John Maxwell Coetzee is an author and academic from South Africa. He became an Australian citizen in 2006 after relocating there in 2002. A novelist and literary critic as well as a translator, Coetzee has won the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,639 (18%)
4 stars
2,895 (31%)
3 stars
3,006 (33%)
2 stars
1,150 (12%)
1 star
411 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 844 reviews
Profile Image for Fabian.
956 reviews1,623 followers
September 9, 2020
It becomes increasingly difficult to achieve originality after everything has been done (& then over and over overdone). I cannot help but compare this masterpiece (I love using that word, but it must be noted that only a select few books are labeled by me as such) to the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Olive Kitteridge." Because it is the author's intent to sieve through snippets of the titular character's life to reach an essence, an aura, making the fictional person practically real, they are quite comparable (though here the South African writer writes circles around the American one). Not overly impressed by "Disgrace," I will swallow my pride, revise the previous and premature assessment of Coetzee (which was: "Eh") and say that I MUST READ ALL HIS works (just as I must get my hands on ALL of Margaret Atwood, Anne Patchett, Philip Roth & Louis de Bernieres), poste haste!

Who else can create an entire detailed (and therefore, poetic, rich, amazing...) portrait of an aging novelist in less than 230 pages? No one. The genius of the book is its innovative reasoning and new literary structure: through eight formal addresses we meet and inhabit the life of Elizabeth Costello. Her life is there in her own spoken words, as we are devoid her actual (fictional) body of work.

What to do with so many ideas, how to put them together to come out with a concrete result in the end? The merger of intellectual and emotional facets of the writer's life gives so much levity to the book--why can't books explore literature in a matter like this? Directly--in a fresh, glowing post-modern (though not pretentious) way?

I wholeheartedly and with an unnatural enthusiasm recommend this book, 100%. For its conciseness, it sure knows how to captivate a reader who, quite frankly, must be tired of the same plot formats and modern global concerns on the human condition.
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,000 reviews
July 4, 2023
رواية فكرية جدلية يناقش فيها جى ام كوتزي كثير من الأفكار والقضايا
بحث في الجوانب الفكرية والفلسفية لموضوعات مختلفة
الرواية على شكل سلسلة من المحاضرات والسفر واللقاءات للكاتبة اليزابث كستلو
كستلو روائية استرالية تقترب من السبعين وهي شخصية محيرة وأفكارها متناقضة إلى حد ما
من الموضوعات المثيرة للاهتمام, الواقعية وهوية الانسان الحقيقية أمام نفسه ومع الناس
التراث الشفاهي وأصل وتطور الرواية في أفريقيا, النظر بوعي لحياة الحيوان وحقوقه
أيضا مشكلة الشر الكامن في النفس البشرية والتساؤل عن أثر الكتابة وكشف أثر البشاعة والشرور على الإنسانية
وفي النهاية يصل كوتزي بكاتبته إلى بوابة ما- ربما بعد الموت – تحاول اجتيازها
ونتركها وهي تُعيد التفكير في معتقداتها التي تؤمن بها بعد أن قيل لها "بدون معتقدات لا نكون بشرا.

بعض الأفكار ممتازة والأهم الدلالات المختلفة المؤيِدة للأفكار من الأحداث والأعمال الأدبية
الرواية وضحت صخب الأفكار ومحاولات التدليل في ذهن كستلو أو الأصح في ذهن كوتزي
Profile Image for Baba.
3,616 reviews985 followers
April 17, 2021
Elizabeth Costello, an Australian born writer, who found global renown for one of her earlier works is the story narrator, as we follow her around the world giving lectures, accepting prizes, and more. Coetzee uses Costello's framing story to share eight philosophical or metaphysical essays covering issues such as animal rights, the problems with writing about evil, and the globalisation of Western storytelling. Although well crafted and very accessible, the overall feel and aim is a bit more complex and asks the reader, me, to think.

It should be noted that some of the essays had been previously shared by Coetzee, as authored by himself. To a degree the overall book is a critique of the literary fame circuit; as well as encompassing the idea that a writer should not / cannot be defined by a single work; and that imagination is exactly that, and a writer, in this case a successful writer, should only be limited by their imagination, and not be anything else including social norms / constraint. This was my first Coetzee, and probably not the best starting point, but even so this book has made enough impact, especially the writing and characterisation (which technically is only there as an envelope for the essays!), that I will surely read much more of his work! 6 out of 12.
Profile Image for Sidharth Vardhan.
Author 23 books699 followers
February 27, 2017
Elizabeth Costello is Coetzee's alter ego. And for most of the book, she is giving her opinions on different subjects- realism, women's voice in novels, violence against animals, African novel, Humanity's future - a study in Christ's cross vs Mary's breasts (Mary's breasts won), nature of evil, the impact a book on an evil subject can have on people, mechanics involved when Gods had sex with humans (I like the way this woman thinks) etc. S0me of these are given as lectures, the content of which is borrowed from actual lectures Coetzee gave. The most important subject is animal violence but i have already discussed it.

Another interesting subject is influence a book on an 'evil' subject can have on its writer. Can a writer or reader come out scratched? Most people considered Costello's fears baseless. But 2012 Auror shootings seems to prove that such fears are groundless, but the trouble is letting the fears rule one often leads to bad choices, in this case, it might result in some people calling for censorships when all one needs to use a bit of caution.

Anyway, the last part is where Costello, now dead, finds herself on the threshold of world beyond and denied entry because she has kept refusing to ever have any kind of belief - showing that she saw herself as divorced from things she believed in. The part is heavily inspired from Kafka. Anyone wanting to read it shall do well to read Kafka's short stories'Before the law' and 'A Report to the academy'.
Profile Image for Ana Cristina Lee.
662 reviews269 followers
March 8, 2022
Todas las obras de Coetzee tienen una fuerte carga ideológica y sus novelas de ficción le sirven para hablar de sus valores y su visión del mundo. En este caso la ficción es sólo una ligera envoltura para agrupar toda una serie de ideas que antes había desarrollado en ensayos separados.

La protagonista es Elizabeth Costello, una escritora australiana que se enfrenta al final de su carrera y que es el alter-ego del autor y a la que ya conocimos en Siete cuentos morales. A través de su vida, sus viajes, conferencias e intervenciones en diversas universidades, Coetzee va desarrollando sus ideas sobre el maltrato animal, el humanismo y la religión, la imposición del canon narrativo occidental en el ámbito africano, el problema del mal, el sexo... En total los temas se corresponden con nueve ensayos que había publicado anteriormente, pero aquí están bien engarzados en situaciones realistas. También hay muchas reflexiones sobre el papel del escritor de éxito en la sociedad, que puede llegar a ser una especie de 'entertainer' en cruceros de lujo o una bienvenida curiosidad en la aburrida vida académica.

El conjunto es interesante, si bien hay trozos muy densos y, para mí, excesivamente filosóficos. Tengo que confesar que disfruté más con la exposición de las mismas ideas pero encuadradas en la ficción, como por ejemplo en Desgracia o Esperando a los bárbaros. Pero para quien esté interesado en la obra de Coetzee creo que puede ser una buena introducción.
Profile Image for Milo.
40 reviews116 followers
August 7, 2011
It's not often that I come across an author who summarizes my views on several trying quandaries in one teeny 230 page novel. It was, to me, life changing. This is not a book you should approach without some sort of foreknowledge about the subject matter or about Coetzee himself. "A steely intellect" they say, and it is true. So steely that it can be trying at times. That is why some sort of mental preparation is required. It is written in almost an essay format, switching from internal points of view to external wherever Coetzee saw fit. Each chapter confronts one of the many innumerable issues that plague humanity: animal rights, the identity and functions of an author, evil (in the broad sense), divinity, and realism. I wish I could wax eloquent on these subjects but alas I would only detract from the beauty of what Coetzee has to say.

The truth of the matter is that writers are entertainers. It seems vain that the value of ones work should hinge on the yea or nay of another. Does it not matter more what your own opinion is? In the end beliefs prove inconsequential, faulty, and unreliable; they are not our only support system nor should they be our principle support system. Our heart, that is to say our conscience, should be the basis of our morality. This is at least the standpoint of Coetzee. A quote, perhaps, would clear this up: “Death to reason, death to talk! All that matters is doing the right thing, whether for the right reason or the wrong reason or for no reason at all.” Words to live by.
Profile Image for Tony.
919 reviews1,554 followers
March 12, 2016
I am beyond time's envious grasp, our eponymous character says in this book, and I know what she means, some evenings I feel it; but we don't talk like that that around here. We talk, too, about not eating meat, but we don't bring Kafka into the discussion. We tell stories about humans, but not Humanity, and certainly not the Humanities.

Elizabeth Costello, in this book, is an old woman, and a writer. She would define herself as a writer. Yet in this book she does not write. She lectures, to audiences large and small. She's very intelligent, as Coetzee is very intelligent. But glibly so. Such that when she is ultimately asked - and I do mean ultimately - what she believes in, she replies: I have beliefs but I do not believe in them.

This is a cleverly constructed book. And engaging, in a way. I heard someone say once that classical music was the kind of music that you kept hoping would turn into a tune. That's nonsense, of course. Still, Elizabeth Costello gave speeches, went on rants, and I kept waiting for her to turn into a character. This talks about important themes. It's just that we don't talk like that around here.

We do talk about writing though. Here, here; and Goodreads, here. We make friends over books. That's nice, when there isn't a lot of booktalk in the here, here. Which is why I blushed when I read: They were no longer speaking about writing, if they ever were.
Profile Image for Shovelmonkey1.
353 reviews886 followers
November 21, 2012
JM Coetzee has been dazzling the world at large with his literary genius since 1982. JM Coetzee has been baffling me with his books since last year when i first started reading them. The bafflement continues with Elizabeth Costello. Now the literary world says that all sorts of clever things are happening in this book - philosophy, re-engaging with great modern texts on a different level and also the debate in each chapter of a contentious modern issues including animal rights, sexual identity, death and old age and conflict.

Right, well that's all good. But all i could think was
Because Elizabeth Costello is, to all intents and purposes the authorial metatron. A direct mouth piece for the author, giving voice to 6 previously published essays written by Coetzee and now presented in Elizabeth Costello in one handy package.

My favourite metatron is obviously Alan Rickman in the film Dogma and no other will pass muster. And imagining Elizabeth Costello with Alan Rickmans face simply did not work. Unique and interesting as this was, it did not do a great job of holding my attention although ultimately I probably just under appreciated the genius which means this review will out me for the literary simpleton I really am.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,161 reviews62 followers
March 1, 2009
I'm not entirely sure what my thoughts on this book really are, other than that I didn't particularly enjoy it.

It doesn't really feel like a novel, instead at times more like a particularly pompous academic paper, or an exercise in technique. It is filled with monologues - external in the earlier part, and internal in the latter, all of which revolve around ideas or philosophies. The protagonist barely interacts with others other than speaking at them through her speeches at conferences, and through these the writer seems to be saying that all ideas and beliefs etc constantly evolve throughout our lifetimes, that none of these ideas are fixed but can always be countered, and indeed the protagonist herself seems to think herself in circles.

By the chapter on evil, the book had almost taken off for me, but over the course of the next couple of chapters it had sunk back again into nothingness. By the final chapter I was completely flummoxed as to what the purpose of it all had been, other than to reiterate the inconstancy of belief.

It may well be that more academic/literary minds than mine find something of worth in this book, but to me this was nothing more than a chore.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
874 reviews2,266 followers
May 9, 2020
Serial Intertextuality

I decided to read this novel, because it’s referred to in Lance Olsen's novel, “Anxious Pleasures". Both novels feature intertextuality. “Elizabeth Costello" in turn refers to Franz Kafka's story, “A Report to An Academy", which is narrated by Red Peter, an ape that/who has transformed into a human. Elizabeth, herself a novelist, has written a novel called "The House on Eccles Street" (1969), whose main character is Marion [Molly] Bloom, wife of Leopold Bloom, the principal character of "Ulysses" (1922), by James Joyce.

Like many post-modern novels, “Elizabeth Costello" is a fiction that embraces and incorporates non-fiction. In many cases, this cross-referencing seems to appropriate its content and validity from post-modern philosophy. While this novel relies on intertextuality, its sources are much broader than post-modernism itself.

A Make-Believe Statement

“Elizabeth Costello" consists of eight chapters (or “lessons") and a postscript in the form of a letter.

Each chapter is an opportunity for Coetzee's protagonist to deliver a didactic speech or lesson on an ethical issue (such as realism, the post-imperialist novel in Africa, animal rights, the Holocaust, the role of the humanities, the problem of evil, and eroticism/sexuality), with which Coetzee might or might not agree. As has become customary, readers should not assume that Elizabeth Costello represents the views of Coetzee himself.

Elizabeth is in a long-term quandary, and might not even adhere to any/all of the views expressed in her lessons. The novel seems to interrogate the basis of her views and even the possibility that she might not still hold them. In the last story, Elizabeth waits at the gates of heaven, and must make a confession or statement of belief (i.e., a statement of what she believes, “not a statement of faith").

The Secretary of the Invisible

Elizabeth asks her interrogators/judges, “What if I do not believe? What if I am not a believer?” Her concern seems to be that she has regarded herself as an atheist for most of her life, and she wonders whether she will not be able to enter heaven, unless she professes to believe in God.

However, soon she identifies another concern: she is a writer, an author, and considers that “it is not my profession to believe, just to write. Not my business. I do imitations, as Aristotle would have said.” A writer is not supposed to deliver messages, to write didactic fiction.

She describes her function as “a secretary of the invisible...It is not for me to interrogate, to judge what is given me...When I claim to be a secretary clean of belief I refer to my ideal self, a self capable of holding opinions and prejudices at bay while the word which it is her function to conduct passes through her...

“To put it another way, I have beliefs but I do not believe in them. They are not important enough to believe in. My heart is not in them. My heart and my sense of duty.”

One of her interrogators asks her whether this means that she is “bankrupt of conscience".

She realises after the event that she should have replied, “I believe in the irrepressible human spirit.” However, she questions whether she honestly believes that. Does she believe in art, or at least the artist? Has Dostoevsky or Rilke or Van Gogh replaced the God that has failed?

One of the spectators advises her to “show them passion and they will let you through...Show them you feel and they will be satisfied.”

Little Frogs

Ultimately, she tells them that she believes in the tens of thousands of little frogs that live and hibernate around the Dulgannon River of her rural Victorian childhood.

One of her judges responds that “These Australian frogs of yours embody the spirit of life, which is what you as a storyteller believe in.”

The postscript purports to be a letter written by Elizabeth Lady Chandos in (September 11) 1603. She refers to the addressee as a man who is known to “select your words and set them in place and build your judgements as a mason builds a wall with bricks.” Perhaps this describes writers and humanists who write and think for a living.

Pass the Quandary

For all the post-modern devices, there is a countervailing humanism that seems determined to interrogate the strategies and artifices of post-modernism with which it flirts. Elizabeth as both author and character passes her quandary on to the reader of this novel. Coetzee doesn't convince us that he prefers one view or the other.


The Goons - "What Time Is It, Eccles?"

July 14, 2016
A re-read. 3.5-4.0

I have to do a lot of thinking about whether it is worth doing another review.

So good for that! At 2:30 this morning I realized I had to write about this book to understand what, it has meant to me.

A solid 4 stars.

A damming take down of the intellect, the intellectual. Poor bereft Elizabeth Costello,aged and aging. Alienated from her children, her sister, her intellect which she has depended upon through life; a life raft which can be grasped but as years pass the tether slips.

Her connection in a disconnected life are invitations to conferences to present or discuss on a number of topics. The reason however for the invitations is the acclaimed novel she wrote years ago. Nothing pertaining to who she is now. The sadness is that she is compelled to keep attending these conferences which means she must keep traveling. This has been her life, to travel, to be on the go, to be fueled and refueled but never landing in a rooted spot.

But now the travel and intellectual activity has become a demand, a compulsion, and Elizabeth keeps moving even as her thoughts and ideas are slipping from their once firm cohesion. She wants the animals safe, the food safe, her life safe, her mind… No longer caring about the outcomes of her speeches it is simply important to be needed and to keep plodding on the treadmill of intellect.

In the end has intellect provided answers no matter how long the ideas have been swilled? It should. She should know wizened in discourse and digression.

I’m rooting for her and have been throughout this read. She has been a thoughtful companion and visitor to my home. She has toted in bagfuls of books, suitcases bursting with reason and its logical consequences. Her stay will be memorable.

This is my take. Anything by Coetzee for me becomes questionable in my mind since I am captured by the silk of his prose which through the book is an all inclusive meditative chant.
Profile Image for Domenico Fina.
268 reviews79 followers
October 6, 2018
Ai personaggi di Coetzee si addice l'esitazione che paralizza o stizzisce. Questo romanzo interessante, sperimentale - come per certi aspetti Coetzee è sempre stato - esprime la poetica di Coetzee al suo meglio. Elizabeth Costello è una scrittrice che ha superato i sessanta, suo malgrado è tenuta a presiedere premi letterari e imbastire discorsi. Il libro è una spirale di impressioni in cui ad evidenziarsi è il lato assurdo, quasi casuale, della comprensione e della comunicazione.
Il figlio della protagonista l'accompagna e la sostiene ma anche lui fatica ad accettare che sua madre sia la stessa autrice di romanzi aspri e Joyciani che con la Elizabeth Costello che conosce non hanno niente a che fare; e sua madre è la stessa che scrive libri e che gridava come una pazza quando lui era bambino: gridava "voi mi uccidete".
Ora deve trattare davanti a una platea su "Che cos'è il realismo?", accennare alla stato della narrativa africana, ma fino a dove deve spingersi nelle descrizioni cruente uno scrittore dinanzi
agli altri?
Eccola che pensa che «non sarebbe mai dovuta venire. I convegni sono fatti per scambiarsi le idee, o almeno così dovrebbe essere. Non è possibile scambiarsi le idee se non si sa cosa si pensa.»
Sua sorella è diventata una missionaria e tra loro ci sarà un bellissimo scambio di opinioni.
Sua sorella crede nel Cristo sofferente, Elizabeth Costello crede a poche cose e non le sa definire, nell'ultimo capitolo una sorta di commissione kafkiana le chiederà di chiarire in cosa crede. Un tempo credeva nell'ebbrezza del corpo, adesso crede in qualcosa che sta per "insopprimibile spirito umano".
Un filo di pietà sopravvive sulle ceneri proprio perché nessuno si capisce, lei e gli altri scrittori, il pubblico che le fa domande, suo figlio, sua sorella. Anche per se stessa Elizabeth ha esperienze che non ha mai rivelato a nessuno.
Viveva a Melburne e si era lasciata rimorchiare da uno scaricatore nel porto della città, lui aveva 30 anni ed era brutale, lei 19, era giovane appassionata d'arte e ribelle e voleva fare l'amore con uno sconosciuto come se fosse un esperimento. Quando nella camera d'albergo decide di tirarsi indietro lui la prende a pugni, la spoglia e la scaraventa sul marciapiede nuda. Non lo dirà mai a nessuno e col tempo non lo dirà nemmeno più a se stessa perché nemmeno a se stessi bisogna dire tutto nell'eterogenea, complessa strategia per andare avanti che è la metamorfosi.
Profile Image for Jean-Luke.
Author 1 book394 followers
June 20, 2023
Let me just say this: few other authors I've read force the various modes of nonfiction--interviews in Summertime, essays in Diary of a Bad Year, lectures (formal addresses) in this one--to fit into the mold of fiction quite as effectively as JM Coetzee. Fiction is pretty much whatever he declares it to be, and who am I to object?

In Elizabeth Costello it results in something slightly more abstract, more academic, than the other Coetzee books I have read. There isn't so much a plot as Scenario A, Scenario B etc. into which Elizabeth Costello is placed and presented with Topic X, Y, Z, out of which she then has to talk herself, fumblingly expounding views she (like Señor C in Diary) may or may not share with her creator. Elizabeth Costello is anything but memorable when viewed through the eyes of her son, but all this changes in the final third of the book, culminating in a wholly unexpected (but not unusual for Coetzee) ending. Something straight out of Angels in America, with a postscript just cryptic enough to be annoying.
For that, finally, is all it means to be alive: to be able to die.
Profile Image for Dmitrijus Andrušanecas.
227 reviews284 followers
December 2, 2019
J.M.Coetzee. ELIZABETA KOSTELO. Ji – tai rašytoja. O pats kūrinys – tai filosofinė studija, suskirstyta į pamokas, kuriose aptariamos skirtingos šių dienų bėdos, problemos.

Labai dažnai tekdavo sustoti ir pasižymėti vieną ar kitą detalę, o galimai ir visą pastraipą. Skaitytojai, manau, supras mane, kodėl tai dariau. O dalis Jūsų – nesupras, nes ir pats kartais mėginu rasti priežastį, kodėl taip elgiausi, ar tikrai tai buvo taipr eikalinga. Neabejotinai pasidalinsiu jomis, tačiau jeigu yra žmonių, kuriems galiu sugadinti skaitymo malonumą paviešindamas tam tikras knygos vietas, rekomenduoju toliau mano teksto nebeskaityti.

J.M.Coetzee, manyčiau, daugeliui žinomas rašytojas. Nemaža dalis jo kūrinių yra išversti į lietuvių kalbą: „Nešlovė“, „Maiklo K gyvenimas ir laikai“, „Jėzaus vaikystė“, „Barbarų belaukiant“, „Lėtas žmogus“ ir kt. Jeigu gerai atsimenu, tai būtent pastarajame yra paminėta Elizabetos Kostelo figūra. Akimirką sudvejojau, ar tikrai egzistuoja tokia rašytoja, asmenybė. Bet ji tik veikėja, nors labai tikroviška, J.M.Coetzee alter ego.

Temos – problemos, kurias aptaria rašytojas per rašytoją, yra įvairios. Nuo Afrikos novelių iki smurto tarp vyro ir moters, nuo tavęs-žvaigždės už vienintelį žygdarbį iki įsitikinimų, nuo banalybių iki savasties paieškų, nuo gyvūnų teisių iki mirties pasekmių. Apstu, o ir kampas nušviesti pasirinktas įdomiai.

Kiek gali būti autentiškas, originalus? Kiek gali kalbėti apie tai, ko nesi matęs, nesi patyręs, nesi čiupinėjęs? Ar rašytojas nuolatos turi būti tik faktų dėliotojas? Ko vertos mūsų ir jų pastangos kurti?

„ – Anglišką romaną, – sako ji, – visų pirma rašė anglai kitiems anglams. Todėl jis ir yra angliškas romanas. Rusišką romaną rašo rusai kitiems rusams. Bet afrikiečiai nerašo afrikietiško romano afrikiečiams. Afrikiečiai prozaikai gali rašyti apie Afriką, apie afrikietiškus išgyvenimus, bet man atrodo, kad rašydami jie visą laiką dirsčioja sau per petį į užsieniečius, kurie šiuos romanus skaitys. Norom ar nenorom jie apsiėmė vaidinti vertėjus, pasakojančius savo skaitytojams apie Afriką. Tačiau kaip įmanoma tyrinėti savo pasaulio gelmes, jei tuo pačiu metu tau dar reikia jį aiškinti pašaliniams žmonėms?“ <...> „Skaitytojai, ne rašytojai – tie egzistavo jau anksčiau. Atsikratėme įpročio rašyti svetimšaliams, kai mūsų rinka, Australijos rinka, nutarė esanti pajėgi remti savą literatūrą. Štai kokia mūsų pamoka. Štai ko Afrika galėtų iš mūsų pasimokyti.“

Arba įsivaizduokite, turite garsią rašytoją mamą. Ji, rašydama knygas, labai dažnai konstruodavo savo veikėjus pagal realiame gyvenime esantį prototipą. Tie fikciniai veikėjai buvo jos geriausi draugai, o jūsų – priešai. Priešai, kurie atima mamos laiką iš jūsų, o gal tiksliau – jūsų laiką su mama. Pykstate ant jų, nenorite su jais susipažinti, o tuomet, po kokių 20 metų, nusprendžiate perskaityti mamos knygas, ir taip atrandate save. Pernelyg atvirai, atviriau nei norėjote, bet ten tikrai jūs.

Dabar garsi mama nebėra tokia garsi („Pati save ne taip būtų pristačiusi, bet jos niekas neklausė. Sustingusi praeityje, kaip visada: sustingusi savo jaunystės pasiekimuose.“), o gal tiksliau niekas neatkreipia dėmesio į jos „kitą“ kūrybą, apart tos vienintelės, kurios dėka jos žvaigždė suspindo. Jums tenka ja rūpintis, globoti, bet vis negalite pamiršti, kaip atvirai ji kalbėjo su jumis ir apie jus knygose ir kaip to trūko realiame gyvenime.

„ <..> mūsų skaitytojai, visų pirma jaunieji skaitytojai, ateina pas mus skatinami tam tikro alkio, ir jei mes negalime ar nenorime to alkio numalšinti, tada neturėtume stebėtis, kad jie nuo mūsų nusigreš.“

„Iš pradžių jis tai palaikė žaidimu. Paskui jam nusibodo, o gal pavargo ir geismas virto kažkuo kitu, ir jis ėmė ne juokais ją mušti. Pakėlė ją nuo lovos, smogė į krūtis, smogė į pilvą, su baisia jėga trenkė alkūne į veidą. Kai nusibodo ją mušti, nuplėšė jos drabužius ir pamėgino sudeginti šiukšlių dėžėje. <...> Tai buvo jos pirmas prisilietimas prie blogio. <...> Gal užkalbinęs ją jis nė pats to nesuvokė, bet iš tiesų parsivedė merginą į savo kambarį norėdamas ne mylėtis, o skaudinti.“

Norėjau tai apibūdinti gėrio ir blogio kova, tačiau, matau, reikia platesnės formuluotės. Auka, kuriai neužtenka drąsos būti vien auka, ji siekia rasti pateisinimą tam, kas su ja nutiko. Pateisinimą elgesiui, kuris ją žalojo. O šiomis dienomis to tikrai per akis. Vien mano aplinkoje, kurioje augau, nesuskaičiuojama galybė. Auka buvo mušama iki sąmonės netekimo. Kitą dieną arba po skaičiaus dienų, kai sužalojimai nebūdavo tokie ryškūs, visada atsirasdavo pateisinimas nederamam elgesiui. Ir ką tai galėtų sakyti apie mus? Ir vis tik, ar tai tikrai nederamas elgesys, m?

Ar mes visada privalome turėti įsitikinimus? Tvirta pagrindą po kojomis, subrandintą moralės kodeksą? „– Vyksta žiauriausi dalykai, – sako jis. – Smurtaujama prieš nekaltus vaikus. Naikinamos ištisos tausos. Ką ji mano apie tokius dalykus? Ar ji neturi įsitikinimų, kuriais galėtų vadovautis?“ Ar tai mūsų prievolė? „Įsitikinimai nėra vieninteliai mūsų turimi etiniai ramsčiai. Galima tap pat remptis ir širdimi.“

„Ir jei tai dar viena banalybė – elgtis kaip profesionalei, atlikti savo vaidmenį, – tai tegul bus banalybė. Kodėl jai turėtų būti leidžiama kratytis banalybių, jei visi kiti, regis, jomis džiaugiasi, jomis gyvena?“ Savasties paieškos. Iš tikrųjų – kas mes tokie esame? Akivaizdoje prieš mirtį, kas vis tik mes esame? „Bet kas ta aš, kas yra šitas mano aš, šitas jūs? Mes keičiamės kiekvieną dieną ir kartu išliekame tokie patys. Joks aš, joks jūs nėra fundamentalesnis už bet kurį kitą.“ Ir kiek mes išliekiame tokiais, kokiais buvome?

Vis tik nesuprantu, kaip jaučiuosi perskaitęs ELIZABETĄ KOSTELO. Rodos, patiko, bet, ar neturėčiau jausti stipresnio įspūdžio - likti be žodžių arba reikštis gausiau/garsiau. Labiau ekspresyviai save reiškiau diskutuodamas su popieriaus lapu, abejodamas savimi ir tuo, kuo tikiu, su kuo sutinku, klausdamas, tačiau ne visada atsakydamas. Tiek, kiek skyriau laiko ir tai, kur ir apie ką dabar esu, laikau sėkme. Perskaitytas unikalus kūrinys, ačiū.

„Kiekviena išsitraukta knyga – tai tarsi iškeltas ženklas. Netrukdykite, aš skaitau, parašyta ant to ženklo. Tai, ką aš skaitau, yra įdomiau už bet ką, ką tu galėtum man pasiūlyti.“
Profile Image for Bianca.
1,080 reviews917 followers
December 6, 2018
2 stars - I don't know what the hell this is or supposed to be

It started off well... I thought this will be about an ageing female writer, her struggles with ageing, role in society, the writing world etc

I'm not sure what this was about... As time went on, it got more and more incomprehensible to me, I couldn't quite understand that the heck Elizabeth Costello was going on about in her many talks, dissertations, lectures. Was her mind unravelling? Is Elizabeth Costello just a receptacle for Coetzee's philosophies, ponderings? I mean this had everything without meaning much: vegetarianism/animals rights - I was oh, ok, interesting, I'm open to it - but it went all astray.
There was a lecture on African literature - I found that interesting;
What else? Oh, these huge rants between Elizabeth Costello and her very religious sister, now a nun in a South Africa. As a devout atheist, I thought, oh, this should be interesting. I thought both women were batshit crazy and, as it's the case with most religious/theological discussions where there are two opposed sides, nothing comes out of it, they were just talking at each other, all well argued with fancy words, but nobody was listening.

There were many other subjects. I skipped ahead a bit just to see if this was going anywhere different. Nope. Elizabeth Costello was on another lecture yet again.

My biggest gripe with this - whatever it is, as I can't quite call it a novel - is that I never really understood who Elizabeth Costello was, the person, not the intellectual automaton. Most women are more nuanced. Maybe Coetzee should have chosen to write all this from a male perspective, as Elizabeth Costello wasn't that believable. She was too cold and detached. She didn't seem human. It's also possible that she was losing her marbles?

This book can be interpreted in a million and one ways. Some books you enjoy and have fun, some are informative, some you admire for their cleverness even though you don't necessarily enjoy them, I'm afraid, this one doesn't fall in any of the above categories, despite its intellectual highbrow lectures. I don't know ... It was all too dry, too intellectual without providing answers or that much food for thought in the end.
Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 23 books25.9k followers
July 23, 2010

هذه الرواية صادمة من حيث الشكل الكتابي والبنائي، ومن ناحية أخرى، فهي مفخخة بالمساجلات والجدل والمناظرات التي تدور في أروقة ومحافل المثقفين والأكاديميين والدارسين الذين تحل " إليزابيث كستلو " ضيفة عليهم.

إذا كنت تريد قراءة رواية مكونة من أحداث وتصاعد درامي وحبكة، بحسب البناء التقليدي والمعروف عالميا، فهذه الرواية ليست لك، إذا قررت أن تقرأها .. قرر أن تكون أكثر تسامحا مع " ميوعة الشكل الكتابي " و أيضاً، استعد لأن " تدوخ " كثيرا في غيبة المناظرات الموشومة على صفحاتها، منذ أفكار الروائية عن الواقعية واللاهوت وانتهاء بحقوق الحيوان والهولوكوست!

باختصار، هذه الرواية ذهنية وفكرية بنسبة كبيرة، وليس ثمة ما يحدث، باستثناء الحرارة التي تحس بها في وجنتيك وأنت تتابع المناظرات وتحلل كل عبارة مفخخة يضعها كوتزي قصداً في النص، لإثارة وعيك، أو ربما لإثارة غيظك. الرواية تخبر الشيء الكثير عن عبقرية كاتبها وإمكانياته الهائلة، وقد كانت مفاجأة سعيدة بالنسبة لي بعد قراءة " في انتظار البرابرة " و " خزي " و أيضاً " أيام الصبا " ..

لماذا ثلاث نجمات؟ أولا، لأن الترجمة لم تكن مريحة في كثير من المواطن، وثانياً، لأن بعض الفصول كانت صعبة وتجريدية إلى درجة أنني لم أستلذ بقراءتها كما ينبغي.
Profile Image for Steffi.
976 reviews204 followers
August 26, 2019
Ich dachte zunächst, ich hätte es mit einem Roman zu tun, aber so einfach ist das nicht. Dabei ist die Titelfigur, die die einzelnen „Lehrstücke“ zusammenhält, eine fiktive australische Schriftstellerin. In den acht Lehrstücken geht es meist um Vorträge, um Betrachtungen – mal von Elizabeth Costello selbst, mal von anderen Menschen und sie ist die Zuhörerin. Immer entspinnt sich daran eine Diskussion: Über Literatur, über den Verzehr von Fleisch, über Religion, über Humanität, über das Böse, über Eros… Also im Grunde handelt es sich eher um Essays, um Diskurse, die durch die fiktive Costello zusammengehalten werden. Dabei erscheint die Protagonistin gleichermaßen überzeugend wie unbelehrbar – ebenso wie diejenigen, die sie zu widerlegen suchen. So bleibt der Leser immer in der Schwebe und muss sich seine Meinung am Ende selber bilden.

Fein verwoben sind die Motive der einzelnen Episoden: Das „Schlachthaus“ wird nicht nur in der Diskussion um Vegetarismus genannt – zu meinem Unbehagen auch, vergleichend, wenn es um den Holocaust geht. Franz Kafka wird in einem Kapitel mit seinem „Bericht für eine Akademie“ analysiert und im letzten Kapitel ... nun ja, es heißt „Vor dem Tor“...

Nach und nach erfahren wir auch ein wenig über die private Figur: Elizabeth ist nicht mehr ganz jung. Sie wird zu ihrem Leidwesen immer mit einem ihrer ältesten Werke zitiert: The House on Eccles Street, ihrem Roman, in dem sie Molly Bloom aus Ulysses eine eigene Stimme gab (ein Roman, den ich leidenschaftlich gerne lesen würde). Zu ihrem Sohn und vor allem dessen Frau hat sie kein ganz einfaches Verhältnis, zu ihrer Schwester ebenfalls nicht. Und eine Tochter gibt es da auch noch. Und so wird irgendwie dann doch eine Art Roman aus den ganzen Diskursen.

Man mag dieses Konstrukt für eine Finte Coetzees halten, um eigene Theorien/Gedanken/Themen, die ihn umtreiben, in eine fiktionale, verkäufliche Form zu bringen – das ist vielleicht auch wahr. Der Lesbarkeit tut dies keinen Abbruch.
Profile Image for Nelson Zagalo.
Author 10 books332 followers
April 13, 2020
Em "Elizabeth Costello" (2001) Coetzee cria uma nova abordagem ao romance usando ensaios seus, textos escritos e previamente publicados de não-ficção, que coloca na boca de uma personagem ficcional, que depois é obrigada defender-se da crítica. Parece uma forma de auto-questionamento, como se Coetzee quisesse por à prova as suas próprias ideias e crenças recorrendo ao romance como arena de debate virtual, usando as suas propriedades de simulador de realidade para se confrontar consigo mesmo. O resultado é muito impressivo, com um ritmo balanceado entre a racionalização e a sensorialidade, oferecendo conclusões muito atuais sobre a certeza e a verdade.

São 8 capítulos que debitam 8 conferências da escritora Elizabeth Costello, não são 8 temas, por que algumas conferências ampliam e oferencem diferentes perspetivas, do mesmo modo que nem todas as 8 foram alvo de publicação prévia de ensaio de Coetzee, as últimas 2 não foram. De entre os temas, temos:

1. A importância da literatura e seu criador, e ainda o fim inevitável da nossa passagem por esta vida.

Começa de forma muito racional, fica-se com a ideia de que o livro vai ser uma espécie de discussão meta-literária, interessante, mas desligada emocionalmente.

2. As propriedades e distinções do romance africano, nomeadamente os fatores da oralidade

Começamos a sentir Costello, começamos a perceber que é mais do que um ser racional, que sente e se sente, nomeadamente quando discorda.

3 e 4. Os direitos dos animais e o Holocausto

Aqui atinge-se um primeiro clímax, o racional fica para trás, é tudo força emotiva, é tudo dureza e violência verbal, somos levados a questionar-nos, quase mesmo a parar de ler de tão horrível o que estamos a imaginar.
Mas é aqui que Coetzee usa de forma mais extensiva a arena virtual, já que segue para uma segunda parte onde questiona tudo o que disse em defesa dos animais, colocando em causa ou em debate os extremos e os dedos acusatórios.

5. Ataque às Humanidades pela Teologia

Neste ponto parece que mudamos totalmente, e voltamos à racionalização completa, mas é aqui que Coetzee nos surpreende, nos apanha de surpresa e nos tira o tapete. Antes de entrar aí, dizer como este capítulo me atirou de volta à leitura de “Incompletude” de Goldstein, pelo oposto desse livro. Em Incompletude é de ciência exata que se trata, de certezas absolutas, mas as humanidades não lidam com certezas absolutas, e de repente isso serve de mote à teologia para as questionar, e nós com ela, mesmo sabendo que não existe ali qualquer razão, porque a razão aqui não se aplica. É um momento brutal de ataques e contra-ataques entre duas personagens ficcionais, que facilmente poderão ter surgido na vivência de Coetzee enquanto professor universitário das humanidades.

O empenho na discussão sobre o valor das humanidades é tão grande que quase sentimos um choque elétrico quando entra a sensorialidade em bruto. Coetzee joga claramente nesse choque, sabendo que elevou o discurso a um nível de desapego emocional, de repente reenquadra toda a cena, e por meio de um simples flashback coloca-nos no lugar de voyeur, enquanto sentimos o arrepio que faz o livro tocar-nos bem dentro.

6. A descrição do Mal

Este é o ponto menos conseguido, talvez porque estando a aproximar-se dos questionamentos finais, Coetzee opte por começar a baixar o tom, ou porque a metáfora sensorial usada, apesar de imensamente poderosa, e que me fez engolir em seco, não se aproxime da metáfora velada de que se vai falando mas nunca se descreve, a propósito das torturas nazis. Mas a discussão que traz é profunda, e é algo com que me debato há tantos e tantos anos, e fica clara nesta simples frase:

“Se o que escrevemos tem o poder de nos tornar pessoas melhores, certamente tem também o poder de nos tornar piores.”

Todas as semanas me questiono sobre isto a propósito da literatura, cinema e jogos. Se nos fazem bem, poderão também fazer-nos mal?

7 e 8. Últimos dois capítulos

São estranhos, muito racionalizados à mistura com absurdo místico e existencialista. O primeiro com um debate em redor dos deuses gregos e suas relações sexuais com humanos. O último que surge tal qual um tribunal kafkiano na chegada ao purgatório de Elizabeth Costello.


Vários críticos tentaram encontrar uma interpretação que respondesse pela soma dos temas e discussões realizadas (ex. James Wood). Não concordei com o que fui lendo, porque não encontrei essa interpretação, mesmo depois de forçada por esses críticos. Porque no final senti que estava perante um Coetzee que tinha lutado de forma extraordinária pelo aprofundamento das suas certezas, mas que terminava com mais dúvidas do que quando tinha iniciado o périplo.

Julgo que a grande conclusão, e isso faz parte da matriz das Humanidades, é que o mundo e toda a sua complexidade não é explicável por meras racionalizações. Tudo aquilo de que temos certeza, só a temos no momento em que olhamos para tal pela perspectiva que nos conduziu a essa certeza. Quando mudamos o ângulo, quando vemos a questão de outra perspectiva, de imediato nos assaltam as dúvidas sobre algo que até ali eram apenas certezas. Claro que isto é questionável quando entramos numa modelação orientada pelas ciências exatas, mas esse é um debate diferente, ainda que nesse ponto existam também todas as questões levantadas pelos teoremos de Godel.

No fundo Coetzee escreveu um livro que plasma de forma frontal toda a teorização pós-moderna que nos diz que o mundo em que hoje vivemos está montado sobre fragmentos de ideias que não passam de ilusões de verdade. Porque não há verdade, não há certezas, não há finalidades, tudo é e não é. Vivemos em ilhas de realidade cada vez mais reduzidas, cada vez mais individualizadas, quando vez mais sozinhos. E por isso a leitura termina com um travo forte de tristeza, porque é difícil não nos questionarmos se foi para isto que elevámos tanto as nossas capacidades de compreensão do real... e isto sente-se claramente naquele capítulo final, kafkiano, absurdo... como se fosse inevitável aportar ali...

Publicado no VI: https://virtual-illusion.blogspot.com...
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,213 followers
January 19, 2012
An internationally respected Australian writer in her mid-sixties, Elizabeth Costello is known primarily for her fourth book, The House on Eccles Street, in which she took a minor character from Joyce's Ulysses, Marion Bloom, and created the kind of novel people are still talking about today. That novel was published nearly thirty years ago; now it's 1995 and Elizabeth Costello has arrived in Pennsylvania to accept the Stowe Award, worth $50,000, from Altona College. Her son John, a physics and astronomy professor in Massachusetts, accompanies her. Her acceptance speech is on realism in fiction, but what she really talks about is her own floundering sense of self, growing ever more perplexed, unsure, vague, bewildered.

So begins Elizabeth Costello, a novel of life and death structured around eight "lessons", most of which are essay-like lectures that the author, JM Coetzee, delivered himself at various events listed in the Acknowledgements page (in the character of Elizabeth Costello, apparently). The "lessons" revolve around questions of ideology and the philosophy of death, touching mainly upon the plight of animals grown en masse for human consumption, and the notion of evil.

I began this with absolutely no idea what it was about - and while I've had it on my shelf for a few years, I decided to read it now because, not knowing what it was about, I was looking for (and thought I'd found) a book set in South Africa, for the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge. There is only one chapter where Elizabeth Costello (like all famous people, she can't be just "Elizabeth" or "Ms Costello" but always, always "Elizabeth Costello") travels to Zululand where her older sister Blanche - or Sister Bridget - is a renowned humanitarian and fundraiser, accepting an honorary doctorate; other settings are Melbourne, in her own home (though this setting isn't explored or described), Amsterdam, and America. So I couldn't use it for that challenge. I also read this not knowing its real life background, so it was interesting to learn how Coetzee had given these lectures and debates himself on previous occasions, and how he incorporated the criticisms he received into the life of Elizabeth Costello, within the novel itself.

For example, the one that he got the most flak for was the speech on animals, factory-farm animals like battery hens etc., in which Elizabeth Costello compared them to the Nazi concentration and death camps of World War II. One of the professors at the university where she gives this speech, a Jewish man, takes offence and refuses to sit with her at dinner, telling her in a letter: "If Jews were treated like cattle, it does not follow that cattle are treated like Jews. The inversion insults the memory of the dead. It also trades on the horrors of the camps in a cheap way." The criticism she receives after this event is mentioned later in the novel; this is also the criticism Coetzee himself received, or so I read when I was looking for reviews of this book (and I didn't find much in the way of fellow book-blogger reviews).

Elizabeth Costello raises many interesting, thought-provoking ideas, many of which are perhaps provoking to different kinds of people, but that only makes them more important to openly discuss, not repress. I have to say that in some ways I agree with her take on animals, though I'm not sure she articulated her point all that clearly: namely, that even if animals by and large do not have the capacity for conscious thought that humans do, doesn't mean we are given license to treat them abominably, "like animals" as the expression goes.

She raises the arguments of philosophers and researchers from various eras, who argued that because animals can't think like humans, that it's okay to treat them the way we do - something like the people, not just Jews but predominantly Jews, rounded up by the Nazis. Some of the types of people the Nazis also put into concentration and death camps were homosexuals and disabled people, but they don't get as much attention. What Elizabeth Costello gets at in a round-about fashion, is that we don't treat our mentally handicapped people, those who can barely function either because of defects at birth or accident/illness, by the same philosophy; rather, the real reason we treat cattle like cattle is superiority, only we seem to shy away from saying it openly.

The example of forcing mice and rats through mazes with changing obstacles, or of caged chimpanzees suddenly faced with a puzzle to get their food, highlights our human-centric way of thinking: if the chimp or any other animal fails our tests to prove or disprove intelligence and the ability to think their way through problems, the researchers take this as evidence of their lack - their lack of being able to think. What it really shows is that they are not human, which we already knew, but allows no room for the idea that animals think differently, and in different ways, from us.

A similar thing occurred when the early English colonists came to Australia, and "tested" the Aboriginals by showing them cards of things like trees, and deciding they were stupid because they didn't know the word "tree". Or the test we were shown during my teaching degree, the real test that was given to countless immigrants of black and white drawings of things - tests skewed to a particular culture and way of thinking, things that might be obvious to us but have no place in the life of, say, someone from Bangladesh. They've since realised how ridiculous - and even damaging - such tests really are, and should have ceased using them by now. But we still judge animals by our own standards, not theirs.

About halfway through this book I realised why I felt like I was on familiar ground: it reminded me of Yann Martel's (more recent) Beatrice & Virgil , which also used an allegory of animals for WWII.

There are other ideological issues touched upon, like the humanities, which was less satisfying in the way it was explored (that's the one brought up while she's in Zululand) - it hesitantly touched on Christian missionaries in Africa but failed to really go anywhere, almost as if that were one subject Coetzee was too tired to handle - or I should say his alter-ego in the novel, Elizabeth Costello, who pretty much says, Oh I can't go into this today, I'm too tired. It is a whole other kettle of fish, after all.

By the time we get to her entry in the debate on evil in Amsterdam, it's clear that Elizabeth Costello is starting to lose the plot. She's getting old, and the brush of death is occupying her more than before. Speaking of, I loved the bit about thinking about death, and what happens to our minds, our brains, when we actually conceive of it - I loved it because I've done it many times over my 32 years and it's nice to hear that others do it too, and that they have the same reaction (like falling into a black hole). Comfort in solidarity, right? ;) Of all her speeches, the one I thought the most, if not only, nonsensical was her one on evil and Paul West's novel (because of the nature of so much of the novel, I had to look up Paul West to make sure he really is fictional, because he could just as easily have been a real person, such is the way Elizabeth Costello thinks and talks about him).

Then the final chapter, Elizabeth Costello waiting at the gates of heaven or hell, applying to go through and failing because she's convinced she doesn't believe in anything. I'm not sure what to make of that chapter, it was an oddly organic way to end the story, but unlike the others there was less oratory thinking going on, less rumination, and more description, so that it felt disjointed from the rest. And after all her previous speeches, here finally Elizabeth Costello flounders entirely, her self seeming to come undone as she loses her grounding. I felt sorry for her through most of the book, especially because the way others perceive her (as a bit of a dodder, or an embarrassment in public - she lacks charisma, reads straight from her notes, and in interviews gives practiced, pre-written responses), but at the end I felt annoyed that she seemed completely at a loss for how to stand up for her convictions, and instead simply parroted "I am a writer, it's my job not to have personal beliefs" - which I think is absolute rubbish. That's like saying a journalist is unbiased. Can't be done. I get her point, but I would have thought the opposite: that what makes a writer is their wealth of beliefs, their abundance of ideas that come from believing in certain things.

One thing that can definitely be said for Elizabeth Costello, no matter what your opinions of her lectures, is that it's a thought-provoking book, and one that requires (if not deserves?) a second, even third, reading.
Profile Image for Patricija || book.duo.
585 reviews383 followers
August 5, 2020


Kaip norėjau, kad ši knyga man kabai patiktų. Dievaži, visu kūnu, visu protu jaučiau – viskas čia lyg man – senyva rašytoja, jau blėstanti – ne tik literatūriškai, bet ir gyvenimiškai, biologiškai, dvasiškai. Jos kelionės su sūnumi – atsidavusiu, tačiau į viską žiūrinčiu kritiškai – truputį iš tolo, kad matytųsi bendras paveikslas. Ir vis dėlto, skaitydama „Elizabetą Kostelo“ negalėjau atsikratyti jausmo, kad žiūriu į koliažą – gražų, kokybišką, bet vis dėlto – sulipdytą, suklijuotą. Pažvelgus iš arčiau tik ir matosi klijų ruoželiai, maži nelygumai, spalvų neatitikimai. Taip jau nutinka, kai tai, ką turi, bandai apklijuoti tuo, kas viską bendrai sujungtų. Ir nuojauta, kaip dabar supratau, visiškai manęs neapgavo.

Yra priežastis, kodėl „Elizabeta Kostelo“ man pasirodė būtent tokia – neišbaigta, truputį pritempta, vietomis per skambi, vietomis – nykesnė ir blanki. Pasidomėjus, jog pagrindinės veikėjos ir ją supančiųjų sakomos kalbos, dėstomos mintys yra tai, ką Coetzee jau yra publikavęs anksčiau, viską sudėliojo į vietas – tai jaučiasi. Jaučiasi labiau, nei man norėjosi. Kalbos, kad ir kokios skambios, kad ir kokios filosofinės, vietomis man pasirodė per daug akademiškos grožinei literatūrai, per daug pompastiškos, per daug iškrentančios iš bendro konteksto. Tikėjausi pasinerti į Elizabetos gyvenimą, tačiau jaučiuosi pasėdėjusi paskaitoje – įdomioje, tačiau tokioje, į kurią atėjau per klaidą, atsisėdau pirmoje eilėje ir veiksmui įsibėgėjus buvo per daug nejauku pasakyti, kad sumaišiau auditoriją. Ir išeiti.

Ir nors sunku vertinti Elizabetą kaip grožinės literatūros kūrinį, nes mano manymu, jis kabo kažkur tarp mokslinio darbo ir apysakos, vis dėlto, lieku kiek nusivylusi. Ne tik dėl to, kad lūkesčiai prasilenkė su realybe, bet ir dėl to, kad jaučiausi šiek tiek apgauta – suviliota vienokio pažado, gavau visai ne tai, ko širdžiai taip reikėjo. Ir nors esu pasiruošusi giliai, oi giliai nerti į Coetzee kūrybą, su kuria pažintį pradėjau nuo žemę iš po kojų traukiančios „Nešlovės“, dabar supratau, kad geriausia idėja būtų Elizabetą pasilikti pažinties pabaigai – refleksijai, apžvalgai, galutiniams apmąstymams. Bet galbūt tokia ir buvo autoriaus idėja?.. Prie Elizabetos aš dar sugrįšiu. Antram žvilgsniui. Ir galbūt jis bus palankesnis.
Profile Image for John.
1,197 reviews95 followers
May 17, 2022
An interesting book. An amalgamation of fiction and nonfiction. Eight lessons of lectures about belief. Whether that is animal rights, religion or Africa. All the chapters are thought provoking. The last one which as Elizabeth Costello says is very Kafkaesque.

What is literature? What is belief or perhaps a better word is faith. Elizabeth is an elderly Australian writer who has spent a lifetime of studying other people and now finds she still does not understand herself. That scrutiny of herself she is finding disturbing.

The last chapter could be purgatory or a waiting room where a panel of judges determines whether she goes further on her journey. Perhaps the gatekeeper of the outpost sums it up best ‘We see people like you all the time’.
Profile Image for J.
730 reviews454 followers
July 19, 2014
BLECH. As if Elizabeth Costello wasn't unlikable enough, with her mopey, childishly selfish late life "Oh, it's hard to be a respected writer" angst, Coetzee also puts her in this really blase framework where she basically pontificates at her audience, and by extension, us the readers. This wouldn't be such a problem, and her dogged critiques of rationalism/the enlightenment/carnivores could be palatable (could in fact be quite devastating), if it wasn't for the fact that they come across as the product of a reactionary, willfully irrational mind. The views she presents are like something a nihilistic highschool student who read too much Singer and Heidegger would come up with. I hate talking about novels like they are coherent arguments that can be taken apart one piece at a time. But what else am I supposed to do with this? We spend the vast majority of the book being lectured at by this person, am I supposed to pretend as though this isn't what the book is "about?" The conventional reading of this is that Coetzee is telegraphing at least some of his own ideas onto Costello. And maybe that's true, but if so, to what end? To prove that he can be an unlikable, misanthropic pedant? To acknowledge and to show the uglier side of his own idealism? Maybe that's noble and even kind of wise on his part. Unfortunately it doesn't make for very good reading here. In the book's penultimate section, Costello find herself in this weird universe that's sort of a combination of Kafka's 'The Castle' and 'The Trial.' Paralyzed by bureaucratic judges and gate guards, forced to justify her existence in a pathetic court room scene, Costello is unable to provide them with the answers that will presumably free her from her perverse bureaucratic/metaphysical stasis. She remains trapped there. Maybe they would have settled for her just admitting how much of a petty asshole she is.
Profile Image for Nurbahar Usta.
130 reviews74 followers
December 27, 2022

Utanç'ı okuduğumda çok arada kaldığımı hissettiğim bir yazardı Coetze. Çok mu sevdim, hiç mi sevmedim bir türlü karar verememiştim. Bence poetik olan bir Türkçeleştirmeyle Elizabeth Costello isimli bir kitabı "Romancının Romanı" başlığıyla görünce bir kez daha şansımı denemek istedim ve sanırım Coetze'nin yazdığı her şeyi okuyacağım.

Yaşlılık dönemindeki bir yazarın, 260 kadar kısacık sayfada tüm karakterinin, hayatının farklı dönemlerinde nasıl biri olduğunun eksiksiz bir şekilde yazılmasından inanılmaz etkilendim. Genç ve yeni anne Costello'nun, kariyerini sürdürürken çağın ötesinde bir kadından; yaşlılığında artık görüşleriyle, duruşuyla, kararlarıyla nasıl zamandan yiten bir kadına dönüştüğünü görmek muhteşemdi.

Kötülüğün doğasına odaklandığı bölümde, kötülüğü anlatam kitaplar yazarken yazarların ruhunun kirlendiğiyle ilgili yazdıkları bana direkt Costello'nun, Coetze'nin alter egosu olduğunu düşündürdü. Sadece Utanç'ı okumuş olsam da, oradaki kötülüğü yazarken kendini nasıl hissetmiş olabileceğine dair çok güzel bölümler vardı.

Hele son bölüm olan inanç bölümü benim başucu okumalarımdan olacak kesinlikle. Hayvanlarla ilgili yazdığı kısımların bir kısmına ise katılmıyorum.

Çok özgün bir kitap kurgusuyla ve fikriyle. Bir yazar yaratmak, kurgulamak, ama o yazarın nerdeyse gerçek bir yazar olması, hatta en ünlü kitabının Marion Bloom'un yaşamını tahayyül ettiği kitabının olması gibi detaylarıyla benim all-time-favorite listeme çok hızlı bir şekilde girdi.

Ya gelin kaynana ilişkisi bile var. Akademi, aile ilişkileri, arkadaşlıklar, aşklar... Her şey bu kadar kısa bir kitaba nasıl sığmış inanmakta güçlük çekiyorum.

Yaza yaza bitiremem sevdiğim her şeyi sanırım.
Profile Image for Yasemin.
74 reviews3 followers
October 2, 2019
“İnsanın sanat yaşamı, şematik olarak iki, belki de üç evre olarak düşünülebilir. Birinci evrede büyük bir soruyla karşılaşırsın veya o soruyu kendin ortaya atarsın. İkinci evreyi o soruyu cevaplamakla geçirirsin. Ve sonra, yeterince uzun yaşarsan o sorunun sana sıkıcı geleceği ve başka konulara ilgi duyacağın üçüncü evre gelir.”

J.M. Coetzee / ‘Burada ve Şimdi

Coetzee, edebiyat çevresiyle ve yönetimle yaşadığı çatışmaların ardından ülkesini terk edip yeni bşr kıtaya yerleştiği bir dönemde yazmış bu romanı. Farklı sorular sormaya başlamış ama bence bildik hassasiyetleri çerçevesinde. Gerçekçilik konferansı ilk bölümün ismi. Ve kurmaca ile gerçeklik köprüsünde (başlamak diye bir şey var mıdır?) salınarak romancısından gerçekçilik üzerine bir konferans dinliyoruz. Seçilen metin Kafka'nın Akademiye Bir Rapor isimli öyküsü. Gerçekçilik üzerinden bu klasik metinle kendi sorularına dönüyor.
Devletler düzeyindeki sömürgecilik meselesini insanlarla hayvanlar arasına getirip "akıl/bilinç" sahibi olmak bize akıl bilinç sahibi olmadıklarını iddia ettiğimiz canlılar üzerinde hangi hakları veriyor ya da veriyor mu sorusuyla bambaşka bir platforma taşıyor. Romanın geleceği isimli konferansında hem geçmiş ve gelecek kavramlarının kurgusallığını hem de edebiyat dünyasının çelişkilerini romanın bizzat kendisinin kolonyal yönünün etkilerini sorguluyor. Tanrılarla insanlar arasındaki ilişkilenmeyi sonluluk sonsuzluk farkının arzu üzerindeki etkisi üzerinden Psike/Eros üzerinden şiirlerle şairlerle edebiyatla felsefeyle konuşurken lafı Amerika'ya getiriveriyor. Afrika'ya kız kardeşini ziyaretinde misyonerliği, dinin insani bilimlerle etkileşimini karşılaştırmalı tartışıyor. İnancın dayatıcı zorlayıcı yanının karşısına insanlığı koyuyor ama acının acı çeken insanı anlamayıp kendi sanat anlayışını bilgisini kültürünü dayatan emperyalleri de romanından eksik bırakmıyor. Coetzee'nin bu romanı beni epey bir süre daha meşgul edip yeni okumalara, meraklara yöneltecek. Coetzee yine silkeliyor etik/inanç gerçeklik/kurmaca, iyilik/kötülük...peşini bırakmıyor, soruyor, düşünüyor, konuşuyor, linç edileceğini bilse de rahatsızlık vereceğini bilerek düşünmeye hissetmeye zorluyor. Romanda çok fazla düşünce vardı, bir romanda sindirmeyi hissetmeyi zorlayacak denli çoktu.
Kafka için Costello'ya söylettiği:
"Kafka bizim uyuyakaldığımız boşluklarda uyanık kalmasını bilmiştir. Kafka'nın yeri işte burası."

İlk bölümdeki romanın yazılma bir karakterin yaratılma anına şahitlik ettiğimiz, gerçekliğine mesafelendiğimiz E.Costello'ya Coetzee'nin gerçeklikte sunduğu konferanslarda romanlarında erkek kahramanının içine bir kadın olaraknasıl yerleşebildiğini soruluyor... Bizde de kadın mı bu konferansları veren yoksa Coetzee mi sorusu uyanıyor.
Salman Rushdie'nin davet edildiği ancak daha sonra güvenlik gerekçesiyle davetin iptal edildiği bir etkinlikte Nadine Godimer ile karşılıklı gelmiş. Zehir zemberek bir konuşma yapmış. Bu romanda bu olayı konferans konusu da dahil çok anıştıran bir bölüm var.
Bu arada tüm bu kurmaca/gerçeklik, düşünce/kurmaca halleri arasında salınırken Agos'ta Coetzee üzerine yazılmış bir yazıda Coetzee'nin etkilendiği yazarlar arasında Elizabeth Costello'yu görmek çok hoştu:))
Son bölümde inanç, kurmaca yazarlık meselelerini tartışırken kurbağalardan söz ettiği enfes bölümünse ülkemizde bir kitaba esin ve isim kaynağı olduğunu yeni öğrendim. (Kurbağalara İnanıyorum)
Son olarak üçyüz yıl arayla Bacon'a yazılan mektuplarda yaratıcılık ve yazma tutkusunun bulaşıcılığı üstüne yazılanlar ise yine kurmaca/gerçek ilişkisi çerçevesinde Bacon'ın (doğa, insan ilişkileri üzerine birçok düşüncesinin yanı sıra ) şu sözünü anımsattı:

"God has, in fact, written two books, not just one. Of course, we are all familiar with the first book he wrote, namely Scripture. But he has written a second book called creation."
Sir Francis Bacon
Profile Image for Celeste - Una stanza tutta per me.
187 reviews133 followers
September 17, 2016
"Credo nell'insopprimibile spirito umano. [...] Credo che l'umanità sia una cosa sola. Tutti quanti sembrano esserne convinti, sembrano crederci. Perfino lei ci crede, di tanto in tanto, quando è dell'umore giusto."

Per chiunque si sia chiesto perché Coetzee è un premio Nobel, esiste questo libro.
Era da molto tempo che non mi capitava tra le mani un libro che richiedesse la mia totale attenzione; ma sin dalle prime righe mi sono resa conto che le scarse 200 pagine di Elizabeth Costello non dicono la verità; è un libro impegnativo, non vi mentirò. Ha preso tanto del mio tempo e tutta la mia concentrazione, ma se lo è meritato.

Elizabeth Costello è una scrittrice australiana oramai in età avanzata; con le sue convinzioni ed il proprio approccio al mondo e all'altro, che vanno cristallizzandosi man mano che l'età avanza. Coetzee apre sei finestre - i capitoli hanno il nome di Lezioni - sulla sua personalità, portandoci in sei differenti occasioni nelle quali è richiesto un intervento da parte dell'autrice - un convegno, piuttosto che una conferenza su una nave da crociera - su determinati topics.
Si affronta il problema del realismo nella letteratura, della situazione del romanzo in Africa, della reale consistenza del Male, e tutta una serie di argomenti che fungono da punti nodali non solo della personalità di Elizabeth, ma inevitabilmente anche di Coetzee, che non si nasconde dietro ad un dito.
Ci sarebbero mille cose di cui parlare: lo stile poetico di Coetzee, l'assoluta attenzione che il testo richiede, le idee (alcune condivisibili, altre meno, come è giusto che sia) a volte marmoree, altre fumose di Elizabeth, la capacità di Coetzee di descrivere l'ambiente in un rigo, i continui omaggi letterari, le situazioni di meta-romanzo.. Ma è tutto relativamente importante.
Ciò che è importante è il valore letterario intrinseco di questo "romanzo", che esiste in sé, al di là della poesia, dello stile e delle idee.

Più che leggo, più che mi rendo conto che i libri che mi toccano veramente sono quelli in cui l'autore riversa se stesso senza volersi nascondere; perché penso che il farlo richieda un coraggio fuori dal comune, e perché chi lo fa ha davvero qualcosa da dire.
Profile Image for Ahmed.
910 reviews7,448 followers
October 4, 2014
كاتب يكتب روية تكون بطلتها الرئيسة كاتبة (غريبة الأطوار) أول لنقل مؤلفة متميزة , المهم يتقمص الكاتب دور هذه المؤلفة لينسج لنا حياة تخصها ,
أرى أنها رواية متميزة , فقد اعتمدت أسلوب أشبه بالتقارير الإخبارية والسير الذاتية ليُنتج لنا العمل .
عمل واقعى جدا , حياتى للغاية , يصف لك أحداث بصيغة واقعية قوية .
يثير العمل العديد من المسائل الفلسفية المعقدة ,
الترجمة : مؤدية للغرض (ولكن فى المجمل ترجمة سيئة).
الأشخاص والشخصيات حيّة بين السطور ذات عمق واضح
مؤلف العمل : حائز على نوبل 2003 والمؤلف الوحيد الحائز على جائزة البوكر مرتين (1984 و 1999)
Profile Image for Rayroy.
212 reviews77 followers
January 27, 2013
I just can't get into this book, Yes J.M. Coetzee can write well but so what, this book just comes of as smug and elitist, none of the charactors are remotely likeable, and the story if there is even one is about a writer that goes around and talks about writing, the state of writing in today's world, blah, blah,fucking, blah. This is a literature essay masquerading as an important work of fiction.I hate this fucking book!

Profile Image for Pranykustolumoj.
111 reviews36 followers
November 23, 2020
Mėgstu Coetzee, bet ši knyga - viena silpniausių. Daug kalbų, filosofijos, bet pats siužetas - baltais siūlais siūtas...
February 6, 2019
Elisabeth Costello è un libro che devi decidere di voler leggere.
Primo punto a favore: la scrittura, qualitativamente impeccabile.
Secondo punto a favore: la particolarità dell’opera, che mescola fiction e non-fiction. La costruzione narrativa serve da contenitore a sei lezioni, sotto forma di conferenze o comunque flussi di pensiero su uno specifico argomento. Non vi mentirò dicendo che sono state lezioni semplici da seguire, no, però tutte sono interessanti, originali e profonde. Vanno dal concetto di male in letteratura - quanto è lecito addentrarsi? Qual è il limite della decenza? Quanto può servire? Quanto può nuocere? - allo scopo del romanzo, il suo futuro; la prima è una riflessione sul realismo, l’ultima sulla fede. La caratteristica particolare è che ogni opinione non è mai assolutamente, la protagonista si contraddice, oppure arriva qualcuno che la pensa in maniera opposta. Quindi un libro molto “celebrale” con i suoi alti ed i suoi bassi, ma unico nel suo genere.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 844 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.