Animal Aid

NOBEL PRIZE - Animal rights sympathiser recognised

Posted 1 December 2003

J M CoetzeeThe award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to South African writer J M Coetzee is likely to increase his book sales worldwide and thereby provide a welcome boost to the animal protection movement.

Coetzee is a passionate critic of human mistreatment of animals, most notably in his short book, The Lives Of Animals (1999).

The volume features the character of Elisabeth Costello, a well known writer who travels to the US to give a university lecture in defence of animal rights.

Her speech is controversial, arguing that "we are surrounded by an enterprise of degradation, cruelty and killing which rivals anything that the Third Reich was capable of, indeed dwarfs it, in that ours is an enterprise without end, self-regenerating, bringing rabbits, rats, poultry, livestock ceaselessly into the world for the purpose of killing them".

In addition to the lecture itself and the critical discussion it provokes amongst academics, the story deals with Costello's disgust and disillusionment with human dependence upon animal exploitation. She comes to question whether almost all the people she meets 'are participants in a crime of stupefying proportions.'

J M Coetzee's most recently published novel again explores the character of Elisabeth Costello - indeed her name is the title of the work.

According to reviews, her animal rights views are featured prominently in the story, which also contains the full text of the now out-of-print The Lives of Animals.

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