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Introduction by Melinda Harvey
Belief may be no more, in the end, than a source of energy, like a battery which one clips into an idea to make it run.
Elizabeth Costello is a distinguished Australian author in her mid-sixties celebrated for a novel she wrote decades earlier. In a series of eight ‘lessons’—the transcripts of lectures and speeches—she examines such subjects as animal rights, evil and the afterlife. Published in 2003, Elizabeth Costello was the first book J. M. Coetzee published in his new home of Australia. With its blurring of the lines between fiction and non-fiction, its rigorous interrogation of weighty ideas and moments of bleak comedy, the novel issued a new and complex challenge to Coetzee’s readers.
‘So bold and so clever that one wants to call it something other than a novel, to take it out of that commonplace genre.’ Times Literary Supplement
‘The book, one of Coetzee’s best, simply burns with creative passion.’ Independent
‘A readable and engaging book. Demanding, playful, provocative…hugely enlightening and rewarding.’ Sunday Times
‘In this strange but deeply satisfying book, Coetzee combines the two aspects of his literary personality in ways that may challenge some readers’ preconceptions about the relationship between imaginative and critical writing.’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘Hypnotic and, in the end, irresistible.’ Australian Book Review
‘A resounding achievement…One that will linger with the reader long after its reverberating conclusion.’ Publishers Weekly
‘An intimacy born from urgency crackles through each of [Coetzee’s] books, as if one is not reading a text but being plugged into a brand new form of current—reinvented each time to carry a new and urgent form of narrative information.’
‘Coetzee is the most radical shapeshifter alive.’
‘Freed from literary convention, Mr Coetzee writes not to provide answers, but to ask great questions.’