I've just read Elizabeth Costello by J.M.Coetzee. The first and last thing I read of his was Disgrace. This novel feels like retribution. If he was to embody whom he might most have offended in his tormented Disgrace, she might look like Elizabeth Costello. Coetzee brings her to life through a set of eight lectures and conversations. It is Elizabeth's argument with her sister Blanche, the nun, which comes to mind as I examine my feelings about the Dying Gaul.
Elizabeth questions Blanche's life of bowing to writhing Christ on a cross, in agony, when it seems to her that at one time Christ was vibrantly alive, why not worship him in that state? Blanche's reaction is to see it as perverse to envision the one who died for our sins in any other way. It was his act of suffering that we relate to, as suffering beings, she says. This is what we need. Blanche claims Elizabeth, and all humanities scholars, are tainted by the Greek custom of worshipping pure form and marble statue.
In a letter Elizabeth sends to Blanche she says: