Elizabeth Costello: Eight lessons
Secker & Warburg, $35 hb, 233 pp, 1740512650
Something like a double helix of dialectical thinking winds its graceful way through these ‘eight lessons’. Ideas and theories about the nature of human (and other) life and how to live it, about the workings and the relative merits of logic, reason, belief, and faith, are sketched, rehearsed, debated, and set in opposition to each other throughout these eight episodes in the life of J.M. Coetzee’s heroine.
Elizabeth Costello is an elderly and distinguished Australian novelist with a dutiful son, a hostile daughter-in-law, and a sister as distinguished and singular – though in a very different way – as herself. Her reputation rests chiefly on the book regarded as her masterpiece, The House on Eccles Street, a novel that liberates Joyce’s Molly Bloom from the confines of her author, her house, and her hero husband, and lets her loose on the streets of Dublin.