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Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
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Disgrace (1999)

by J. M. Coetzee

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» See also 627 mentions

English (192)  Dutch (11)  French (4)  Spanish (4)  German (2)  Hebrew (2)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  Greek (1)  All languages (222)
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
This was a gift and effort at reconciliation. There is an irony in that given the thematics. Isolated from such a context, this novel truly disturbed.
Post-colonial-sexual/political-academic/satire, Disgrace foams with all these volatile elements.This is Coetzee at his most angry and confused. That isn't a complaint. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
The disgrace of the title is the state former university professor David Lurie has resigned himself to when he loses his post after an affair with a student. Or maybe the disgrace of his daughter Lucy after the violent attacks on father and daughter on Lucy's rural smallholding where David has been finding a sense of peace. Perhaps, too, it's the disgrace of the white people of South Africa, struggling to find their place and face the consequences in the inverted world where generations of oppression have been broken and a whole new set of rules apply.

It's a long fall from David's comfortable and cocksure world of Romantic poetry and easy sex. He loses everything: his looks, his creativity, his reputation, his family. That's the price of his redemption. Not surprisingly this is a bleak and disturbing book. But it's never a dull one. It's deceptively easy to read and yet in a compact 220 pages it packs a devastating punch.

I'm conscious that what I've just written is a very shallow review of what is a deeply complex book. I think that may be because it's left me reeling somewhat. It's not the hard, dense read that one might expect from something that addresses just hard, dense issues, and perhaps that's part of its genius. Yet I don't know why it flowed so easily. It's got a scattering of gratuitous foreign: Italian, German, French, something that might reasonably be Xhosa. It's protagonist is distinctly unlikeable; he is emotionally frigid, arrogant, smug, contemptuous of the women he exploits without regard for the personal consequences for them. He is oblivious to his own flaws and to how they are perceived by those around him. In middle age he still wants to make moral decisions for his grown-up daughter. And yet Coetzee had me rooting for him by the end. Perhaps David Lurie deserved his fate, however much one might want to give him a good slap (but what he actually gets is far worse and far more cathartic). Yet he approaches his fate with quiet resignation, becoming like the subordinate people of the old order. Only once he has been stripped of everything can he be at peace with himself.
( )
  enitharmon | Jan 14, 2019 |
The disgrace of the title is the state former university professor David Lurie has resigned himself to when he loses his post after an affair with a student. Or maybe the disgrace of his daughter Lucy after the violent attacks on father and daughter on Lucy's rural smallholding where David has been finding a sense of peace. Perhaps, too, it's the disgrace of the white people of South Africa, struggling to find their place and face the consequences in the inverted world where generations of oppression have been broken and a whole new set of rules apply.

It's a long fall from David's comfortable and cocksure world of Romantic poetry and easy sex. He loses everything: his looks, his creativity, his reputation, his family. That's the price of his redemption. Not surprisingly this is a bleak and disturbing book. But it's never a dull one. It's deceptively easy to read and yet in a compact 220 pages it packs a devastating punch.

I'm conscious that what I've just written is a very shallow review of what is a deeply complex book. I think that may be because it's left me reeling somewhat. It's not the hard, dense read that one might expect from something that addresses just hard, dense issues, and perhaps that's part of its genius. Yet I don't know why it flowed so easily. It's got a scattering of gratuitous foreign: Italian, German, French, something that might reasonably be Xhosa. It's protagonist is distinctly unlikeable; he is emotionally frigid, arrogant, smug, contemptuous of the women he exploits without regard for the personal consequences for them. He is oblivious to his own flaws and to how they are perceived by those around him. In middle age he still wants to make moral decisions for his grown-up daughter. And yet Coetzee had me rooting for him by the end. Perhaps David Lurie deserved his fate, however much one might want to give him a good slap (but what he actually gets is far worse and far more cathartic). Yet he approaches his fate with quiet resignation, becoming like the subordinate people of the old order. Only once he has been stripped of everything can he be at peace with himself.
( )
  enitharmon | Jan 14, 2019 |
Disgrace is full of twists and turns beyond the jacket-advertised plot. I know little of SA history but I'm guessing the 3 subplots (David, Lucy, dogs) are all in part allegories of SA during the late 90s end of apartheid. I admired this book (the writing is amazing) but did not like it. It could have at least been a tear jerker but instead just left me hopeless and empty, like a gut punch. ( )
  technodiabla | Aug 7, 2018 |
A great many reviewers that I respect rated this book 4 or 5 stars and I hate to be the contrarian, but in this case, I really did not like this book. It is my first read of Coetzee, and his writing style was impressive. But for this book, I found nothing to enjoy. The main character was simply dreadful as a person, and the people that were a part of his life had few redeeming qualities. I kept waiting for some happy moment or some personality turnaround, but it never happened. The story itself never truly built to a climax - it simply just kept moving along. I don't want to say much more because I don't want to give anything away, but I finished this book feeling frustrated. ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
Even though it presents an almost unrelieved series of grim moments, ''Disgrace'' isn't claustrophobic or depressing, as some of Coetzee's earlier work has been. Its grammar allows for the sublime exhilaration of accident and surprise, and so the fate of its characters -- and perhaps indeed of their country -- seems not determined but improvised.
 
Any novel set in post-apartheid South Africa is fated to be read as a political portrait, but the fascination of Disgrace – a somewhat perverse fascination, as some will feel – is the way it both encourages and contests such a reading by holding extreme alternatives in tension.
added by Widsith | editThe Guardian, Adam Mars-Jones (Jul 18, 1999)
 

» Add other authors (58 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
J. M. Coetzeeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Preis, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vosková, MonikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well.
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Follow your temperament.
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De gescande versie van In ongenade die op www.bibliotheek.nl als e-boek beschikbaar is, is van een zeer slechte kwaliteit: hele woorden zijn weggevallen, afbreektekens zijn spaties geworden en lettercombinaties als 'fj' en 'ff' zijn gelezen als '@' en '='.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143115286, Paperback)

David Lurie is hardly the hero of his own life, or anyone else's. At 52, the protagonist of Disgrace is at the end of his professional and romantic game, and seems to be deliberately courting disaster. Long a professor of modern languages at Cape Town University College, he has recently been relegated to adjunct professor of communications at the same institution, now pointedly renamed Cape Technical University:
Although he devotes hours of each day to his new discipline, he finds its first premise, as enunciated in the Communications 101 handbook, preposterous: "Human society has created language in order that we may communicate our thoughts, feelings and intentions to each other." His own opinion, which he does not air, is that the origins of speech lie in song, and the origins of song in the need to fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul.
Twice married and twice divorced, his magnetic looks on the wane, David rather cruelly seduces one of his students, and his conduct unbecoming is soon uncovered. In his eighth novel, J.M. Coetzee might have been content to write a searching academic satire. But in Disgrace he is intent on much more, and his art is as uncompromising as his main character, though infinitely more complex. Refusing to play the public-repentance game, David gets himself fired--a final gesture of contempt. Now, he thinks, he will write something on Byron's last years. Not empty, unread criticism, "prose measured by the yard," but a libretto. To do so, he heads for the Eastern Cape and his daughter's farm. In her mid-20s, Lucy has turned her back on city sophistications: with five hectares, she makes her living by growing flowers and produce and boarding dogs. "Nothing," David thinks, "could be more simple." But nothing, in fact, is more complicated--or, in the new South Africa, more dangerous. Far from being the refuge he has sought, little is safe in Salem. Just as David has settled into his temporary role as farmworker and unenthusiastic animal-shelter volunteer, he and Lucy are attacked by three black men. Unable to protect his daughter, David's disgrace is complete. Hers, however, is far worse.

There is much more to be explored in Coetzee's painful novel, and few consolations. It would be easy to pick up on his title and view Disgrace as a complicated working-out of personal and political shame and responsibility. But the author is concerned with his country's history, brutalities, and betrayals. Coetzee is also intent on what measure of soul and rights we allow animals. After the attack, David takes his role at the shelter more seriously, at last achieving an unlikely home and some measure of love. In Coetzee's recent Princeton lectures, The Lives of Animals, an aging novelist tells her audience that the question that occupies all lab and zoo creatures is, "Where is home, and how do I get there?" David, though still all-powerful compared to those he helps dispose of, is equally trapped, equally lost.

Disgrace is almost willfully plain. Yet it possesses its own lean, heartbreaking lyricism, most of all in its descriptions of unwanted animals. At the start of the novel, David tells his student that poetry either speaks instantly to the reader--"a flash of revelation and a flash of response"--or not at all. Coetzee's book speaks differently, its layers and sadnesses endlessly unfolding. --Kerry Fried

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:28 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Fifty-two-year-old David Lurie, having lost his job and the respect of his friends and ex-wife after an affair with one of his students, retreats to his daughter's isolated small holding in South Africa where he attempts to relate to her and a society with new racial complexities.… (more)

» see all 11 descriptions

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