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Her problem with evil

Elizabeth Costello has felt the evil in herself by reading a book; now she must meet its author

By JM Coetzee   September 2003

She has been invited to speak at a conference in Amsterdam, a conference on the age-old problem of evil: why there is evil in the world, what if anything can be done about it.

She can make a shrewd guess why the organisers picked on her: because of a talk she gave last year at a college in the US, a talk for which she was attacked in the pages of Commentary (belittling the Holocaust, that was the charge) and defended by people whose support for the most part embarrassed her-covert antisemites, animal rights sentimentalists.

She had spoken on that…

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