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n Journal of Literary Studies - A woman thinking in dark times? : The absent presence of Hannah Arendt in J.M. Coetzee's

 

Abstract

This paper approaches Coetzee's <I>Elizabeth Costello&lt;/I&gt; (2003), in particular the section entitled "Elizabeth Costello and the Problem of Evil" (originally published in Salmagundi 2003), as a complex narrative in which intellectual and philosophical ideas merge with storytelling to create an intertextual matrix. By means of a close reading of the aforementioned "lesson", I aim to judge its contextualisation within a realm of intellectual and philosophical debates and thereby to reveal the influence of Hannah Arendt, who, I contend, emerges as one of the less obvious intertexts in a "novel" that is clearly celebrating intertextuality as a self-reflexive, intellectual game. By examining the text as an intertext, I suggest, as one possibility, that Coetzee is presenting Elizabeth Costello as a latter-day Hannah Arendt, a woman "thinking in dark times". If that is perhaps too decisive a reading for a slippery writer like Coetzee, then at the very least, he seems to be in conversation with Arendt on such issues as evil, banality and thinking.

Hierdie artikel benader Coetzee se <I>Elizabeth Costello&lt;/I&gt; (2003), veral die afdeling getiteld "Elizabeth Costello and the Problem of Evil" (oorspronklik gepubliseer in Salmagundi 2003), as 'n komplekse narratief waarin intellektuele en filosofiese idees met vertelkuns ineensmelt om 'n intertekstuele matriks te skep. Ek het ten doel om deur middel van 'n noukeurige lees van die voorafgaande "les" die kontekstualisering daarvan binne die gebied van intellektuele en filosofiese debatte te beoordeel om sodoende die invloed van Hannah Arendt - wat ek aanvoer te voorskyn kom as een van die minder klaarblyklike intertekste in 'n "roman" wat duidelik intertekstualiteit as 'n selfrefleksiewe, intellektuele spel besing - uit te lig. Deur die teks as 'n interteks te ondersoek, suggereer ek, as een moontlikheid, dat Coetzee Elizabeth Costello voorstel as 'n hedendaagse denkende vrou in "donker tye". Indien hierdie interpretasie miskien te beslissend vir 'n ontwykende skrywer soos Coetzee is, dan blyk hy minstens in gesprek te wees met Arendt oor sulke kwessies soos boosheid, banaliteit en denke.

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/content/litstud/21/3_4/EJC62396
2005-12-01
2016-12-05
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