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Disgrace: A Novel by J. M. Coetzee
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Disgrace: A Novel (original 1999; edition 2008)

by J. M. Coetzee

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8,016202400 (3.86)569
Member:kbullfrog
Title:Disgrace: A Novel
Authors:J. M. Coetzee
Info:Penguin Books (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Read and enjoyed
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (1999)

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Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
This book was not for me. The dialogue was wooden, and I felt thoroughly unengaged throughout the whole story. I couldn't get into the mindset of any of the characters. Events would occur - many of them horrific - but they felt rather flat and distant. It's not that I wouldn't recommend the book, but definitely for a different kind of reader than myself. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Jan 30, 2016 |
This book was not for me. The dialogue was wooden, and I felt thoroughly unengaged throughout the whole story. I couldn't get into the mindset of any of the characters. Events would occur - many of them horrific - but they felt rather flat and distant. It's not that I wouldn't recommend the book, but definitely for a different kind of reader than myself. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
This book was not for me. The dialogue was wooden, and I felt thoroughly unengaged throughout the whole story. I couldn't get into the mindset of any of the characters. Events would occur - many of them horrific - but they felt rather flat and distant. It's not that I wouldn't recommend the book, but definitely for a different kind of reader than myself. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
I have to say that a few pages into the book one is totally unprepared for what's to follow. We see this man, this drifter in his affections (if you can call it "affections"), a man with preconceived cynical notions about himself and about the world around him, as he gets a rude awakening when he comes face to face with the reality that threatens his daughter.

I went from disliking David Lurie to pitying him to having respect for him (the latter being due to his unwavering devotion to his daughter in her unimaginable plight and his humane attitude to homeless dogs). In my dislike of him, I even felt a whiff of "Lolita" there: he being driven by desire that much, in particular - his emotions when seeing Melanie's younger sister, not a pretty sight of his inner thoughts... Even though Lurie himself admits that "desire is a burden we could do well without", he is pretty much powerless in that respect. But after all, to various degrees, in all of us there is some duality of nature - the author certainly strikes a cord there.

The deplorable political and economical situation of South Africa is another focus of the book - sharp criticism mixed with disillusionment and resignation, both on the protagonist's, and, I felt, on the author's part.

Coetzee's relationship with his protagonist seems to be that of an aloof observer, an observer with no judgement, watching the man's unintentional, unscripted, unpredictable thoughts. This format worked so well. I certainly mean to put this author on my reading list. ( )
2 vote Clara53 | Jan 25, 2016 |
I really like this author's writing and depth; I'd certainly read another book by J. M. Coetzee. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
The book is written with Coetzee's accustomed steely restraint, and is, like all his work, a masterpiece of understatement. However, there is here what seems a new note of authorial irritation, not only, as might be expected, with the perennial intractability of language and the constraints of the novel form, but with the social changes that are occurring in his country, and in the world at large.
added by rsterling | editNew York Review of Books, John Banville (pay site) (Jan 20, 2000)
 

» Add other authors (58 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
J. M. Coetzeeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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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)

At fifty-two Professor David Lurie is divorced, filled with desire but lacking in passion. An affair with one of his students leaves him jobless and friendless. Except for his daughter, Lucy, who works her smallholding with her neighbor, Petrus, an African farmer now on the way to a modest prosperity. David's attempts to relate to Lucy, and to a society with new racial complexities, are disrupted by an afternoon of violence that changes him and his daughter in ways he could never have foreseen. In this wry, visceral, yet strangely tender novel, Coetzee once again tells "truths [that] cut to the bone." (The New York Times Book Review)… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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