* You are viewing the archive for January, 2009

Fritzl and Blair

Of course it added to the horror of what Josef Fritzl did to his daughter and the children he fathered on her that he frolicked with his friends on beach holidays abroad and was filmed laughing and playing to the camera while his victims languished underground waiting for their gaoler’s return. But I am put in mind of Raskolnikov’s article in Crime and Punishment that certain people – a Napoleon, say – can get away with mass murder while ordinary people can’t. Raskolnikov absurdly deduces that there … Continue Reading

J. M. Coetzee. Comparison with Elizabeth Bishop’s “Faustina, or Rock Roses”

I’ve just reread a couple of Coetzee novels – Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace – and his memoir Boyhood. I admired Waiting for the Barbarians as much as ever, but an old reservation re-awoke and  was crystallised by my rereading Elizabeth Bishop’s “Faustina, or Rock Roses” at the same time. Bishop presents the squalor, the pathos, the embarrassingness for a visitor, of the almost total helplessness of the old woman she describes, but she isn’t disgusted … Continue Reading