Lisa's Reviews > Elizabeth Costello

Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coetzee
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's review
Feb 26, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: 2009, 1001-before-you-die, bollocks, up-its-own-arse
Read in March, 2009 , read count: 1

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.
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