Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Elizabeth Costello” as Want to Read:
Elizabeth Costello
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Elizabeth Costello

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  6,925 ratings  ·  618 reviews
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, 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 mo ...more
Paperback, 231 pages
Published October 26th 2004 by Vintage (first published August 28th 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Elizabeth Costello, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Elizabeth Costello

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It becomes increasingly difficult to achieve originality after everything has been done (& then 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-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 (thoug ...more
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 أث
Sidharth Vardhan
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 o ...more
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, ...more
Feb 26, 2009 rated it did not like it
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 thr
Mike Ingram
Dec 05, 2008 rated it liked it
For maybe 3/4ths of the novel, Elizabeth Costello is an aging writer who goes around giving somewhat harangue-ing speeches to people (a university awarding her a prize, her sister, cruise ship guests, an academic conference) in which she adopts unpopular/counterintuitive positions and then does a rather poor job, logically speaking, of defending them, until she eventually gets frustrated and falls into abstraction, followed by polite clapping from her audiences, all of whom presumably expected h ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: south-african
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 audi
Domenico Fina
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephen P
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read
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
Oct 04, 2014 rated it liked it
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 ع
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 Coe
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Sep 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 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 ...more
بثينة العيسى
Jul 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: محبي الكتب من العيار الثقيل

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
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
بعد أن أنهيت الرواية شعرت بالحيرة و الارتباك... إذ شعرت بأنه أسقط في يدي و لا أدري ما أقول أو بم خرجت من الرواية من فكرة! هذا التشتت الذي انتابني ليس جراء البراعة الأدبية و الحبكة المذهلة و إنما نتيجة تشتت أفكار البطلة أو بالأحرى الراوي كوتزي من ورائها الذي ينفث عبرها حيرته و تشتته لتصيب بها قارئها... و الكتابة قبض، و أنى لي القبض على التشتت! 0
إليزابيث كستلو روائية استرالية في خريف العمر "ليس بحال من الأحوال كاتبة مريحة. ربما حتى تكون قاسية، بالطريقة التي قد تكون عليها امرأة من النادر أن يحتملها
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Directly upon finishing Elizabeth Costello, I was ready to concede that I didn't know what the heck I had just read. The book had a tangible emotional impact on me, but I was at a loss to explain what Coetzee was after, what his meaning was. I was at the point of assigning this to the pile of the unfathomable, but there was one thing I wished to pursue first. This pursuit, which cost me a mere couple of hours, retrieved the book for me and provided a structure and meaning that I had initially mi ...more
Celeste - Una stanza tutta per me
"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 dicon
Arybo ✨
Elizabeth Costello deve sempre lottare con le conferenze. Il primo incontro che ho avuto con la scrittrice è stato in La vita degli animali, guarda caso anche il primo libro che ho letto di Coetzee. La donna usa parole forti, è cupa, è critica, è puntigliosa, anche se leggendone i pensieri ritroviamo in lei una certa insicurezza che la rende umana. Non le piace parlare di cose strettamente intime, come il proprio credo o la propria visione del mondo. Una delle poche cose su cui parla a lungo è i ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The lecture as a species of the novel? And this academic invasion works? I've read two novels of this kind. One was this novel by J. M. Coetzee, constructed out of its novelist character's lectures which were, in large part, transcribed verbatim in the text. The other was Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas

Some sections of Elizabeth Costello's lectures were paraphrased, other "extraneous" writings or events in the book were merely glossed over, dismissed with a stylistic flourish. Here'
Feb 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: african-fiction
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 ...more
Alyson Hagy
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a re-read for me. My first time through (soon after publication) I remember being mystified. I struggled with Elizabeth Costello as a main character and Coetzee's "talky" approach to her life as a writer. This time through my reaction is much different. This is a novel of ideas; Coetzee states that from the first. And the ideas--the knottiness of them, the weight they cast upon EC in the waning years of her life--were of great interest to me. I, too, am aging, and questions regarding the ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"Sono una scrittrice, commercio in finzioni. Sono una scrittrice e scrivo quello che ascolto. Sono una segretaria dell’invisibile"

Uno scritto estremamente originale che vien da definire romanzo - saggio.

Attraverso sei lezioni/dissertazioni Coetzee per il tramite della anziana scrittrice Elisabeth Costello (alter ego dell'autore nella finzione narrativa) si apre, si espone, si sbilancia, si rammarica ... e compone una sorta di testamento spirituale sulle tematiche legate alla vita e alla letterat
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009
I've come to one of those rare moments when finishing a novel when I know that I'm about to deeply offend somebody with my review. To those individuals I appologise, please except that it is probably in ignorance that I do so. However, this is my review.
I feel this book should be great, especially as I read it because it is on the 1000 books to read before you die lists (or something similiar). I took to the book as a novel however, and do not feel it fits this role. Perhaps it should have a pre
Roger Whitson
Sep 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-fiction
For the most part, Coetzee's novel is great at attempting to understand the Australian novelist in a moment of globalization. Coetzee structures his novel as a series of lectures, each detailing an aged writer's increasing non-relevance to an English Department that is becoming more and more formulaic. The last chapter and the postscript were abit of a mystery to me. It seems that Coetzee sometimes wants to throw in a little postmodern sensibility to his novels even when such a disposition doesn ...more
Nov 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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!

Breslin White
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To understand and like this Elizabeth Costello novel, you must know that it is a comedy. Uproariously funny.
Ebtihal Abuali
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it

يقول كويتزي في الفصل الأول من هذه الرواية على لسان احدى الشخصيات ان الواقعية تعني ان الافكار لا وجود مستقل لها، وان وجودها يكون من خلال المحسوس: الشخصيات، الاحداث، الحوارات.

هذه الرواية، انما تتخذ شكل الرواية ظاهرا، وهي في حقيقتها نقاشات جدلية تطرح (من خلال الشخصيات، الحوارات، ووهم الحدث) اسئلة ومواضيع متنوعة مثل الواقعية في الرواية، اصل الرواية وعلاقتها بالشفاهة او المحكي، الدفاع عن حق الحيوان في الحياة، أصل الشر وان كان يحق ويجب على الكاتب الامتناع عن اخراج مارد الافكار الشريرة من قمقمه وعرضه ف
A though book to review unless you decide to read it.

4* Disgrace
4* Waiting for the Barbarians
3* A Ilha
4* The Master of Petersburg
3* Slow Man
3* Elizabeth Costello
TR Dusklands
TR Youth
TR Boyhood
TR Life and Times of Michael K
TR Summertime
TR The Schooldays of Jesus
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-enough
Here's a book that resists, or at least can often appear to resist a single and supreme interpretation. Ambiguity - I'm in. My take on what is happening through what is mostly a series of speech-giving events (each more or less one part intriguing philosophical debate, one part silly human bickering) is that the book is a sort of delineation on the sad complexity that is aging as a novelist/intellectual, our protagonist Elizabeth Costello. Concurrently with the freedom of 'not giving a fuck,' is ...more
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Un po' saggio ed un po' racconto, se fosse un film sarebbe un "mockumentary". La scrittrice Elizabeth Costello (alter ego di Coetzee stesso), si concede con generosità anche se controvoglia alle liturgie letterarie (convegni, premi, lectiones magistrales , interviste) che Coetzee invece ha sempre evitato, e difende con forza le proprie convinzioni dall'assalto delle banalità e dei conformismi degli interlocutori di turno.

Siccome si tratta di "lezioni" la scrittrice che parla di se stessa guarda
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading 1001: Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coetzee 2 11 Jan 31, 2018 07:28AM  
Ist diese Gruppe tot? 1 6 Sep 25, 2014 05:35PM  
Coetzee's Novels 1 29 Feb 14, 2014 06:53PM  
  • Adjunct: An Undigest
  • Dining on Stones
  • Islands
  • Thursbitch
  • Shroud
  • Gabriel's Gift
  • Small Remedies
  • The Light of Day
  • The Heart of Redness
  • Schooling
  • Spring Flowers, Spring Frost
  • That They May Face The Rising Sun
  • The Lambs of London
  • In the Forest
  • Celestial Harmonies
  • Vanishing Point
  • Nineteen Seventy Seven (Red Riding, #2)
  • The Red Queen
John Maxwell Coetzee is an author and academic from South Africa. He is now an Australian citizen and lives in South Australia. 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.
“There is no position outside of reason where you can stand and lecture about reason and pass judgment on reason.” 10 likes
“It’s that I no longer know where I am. I seem to move around perfectly easily among people, to have perfectly normal relations with them. Is it possible, I ask myself, that all of them are participants in a crime of stupefying proportions? Am I fantasizing it all? I must be mad! Yet every day I see the evidences. The very people I suspect produce the evidence, exhibit it, offer it to me. Corpses. Fragments of corpses that they have bought for money.

It is as if I were to visit friends, and to make some polite remark about the lamp in their living room, and they were to say, “Yes, it’s nice, isn’t it? Polish-Jewish skin it’s made of, we find that’s best, the skins of young Polish-Jewish virgins.” And then I go to the bathroom and the soap wrapper says, “Treblinka – 100% human stereate.” Am I dreaming, I say to myself? What kind of house is this?

Yet I’m not dreaming. I look into your eyes, into Norma’s, into the children’s, and I see only kindness, human kindness. Calm down, I tell myself, you are making a mountain out of a molehill. This is life. Everyone else comes to terms with it, why can't you? Why can't you?
More quotes…