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Disgrace (1999)

by J. M. Coetzee

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9,685247553 (3.85)669
After years teaching Romantic poetry at the Technical University of Cape Town, David Lurie, middle-aged and twice divorced, has an impulsive affair with a student. The affair sours; he is denounced and summoned before a committee of inquiry. Willing to admit his guilt, but refusing to yield to pressure to repent publicly, he resigns and retreats to his daughter Lucy's isolated smallholding. For a time, his daughter's influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonise his discordant life. But the balance of power in the country is shifting. He and Lucy become victims of a savage and disturbing attack which brings into relief all the faultlines in their relationship.… (more)
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» See also 669 mentions

English (210)  Dutch (11)  Spanish (6)  French (4)  Italian (4)  German (3)  Hebrew (2)  Catalan (2)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Greek (1)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (247)
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
I think I missed something... I had to double check that I was on the last page because, there was so many loose ends in this book, with no real plot to it.. I will give it that it was easy to get through, I found I had no problem getting through this book, but I think I just wanted it to end.. Not sure how it got all the awards it got, because it didn't impress me at all.. It seemed like it was all about giving up.. maybe I will have some clarity about it after I mull over this trainwreck.. which is actually a good description of the book.. ( )
  sjh4255 | May 4, 2021 |
Parts were uncomfortable to read, but there's something about the author's writing style that compels the reader to continue on. I'm not opposed to books that take the reader outside their usual comfort zone. If anything, I respect authors who take those risks. However, I still thought that the characters were frustrating and the ending was too abrupt. ( )
  StudioLibrarian | Jan 20, 2021 |
David Lurie lives a very contained and well-run life. He is a professor in Cape Town, mostly he lectures in communication but he is also allowed to give one course on his chosen topic as well, Romantic poetry. He lives within his means, and emotionally he looks after himself. For sex he visits a prostitute once a week. He has two ex-wives and a daughter. He is relatively content until Melanie Isaacs catches his eye.

She is a student of his. 30 years his junior. Nevertheless he begins to flirt with her and eventually has sex with her.

As a consequence of that inappropriate action Lurie is pretty much sacked from his job and heads off to visit his daughter in the country. There a whole heap of other issues raise their heads.
Okay, on one level I hated and despised this book. Our protagonist, the only point-of-view character is a complete and utter bastard. He judges women constantly based on their appearance. At one stage he tells Melanie that because she is beautiful it is her duty to sleep with him, as he appreciates it. Beautiful women must share themselves with their admirers.

Every interaction he has with a woman he judges them on their appearance and how it pleases him, or does not. As thought that is the only role for women, to be appreciated by him!

He is such an asshole

But the book itself is such a great read. I think that Coetzee is well aware of Lurie’s failings, and that Lurie’s views are probably commonly held. Lucy, Lurie’s daughter, tells him at one stage that she is not his supporting character, coming in and out of his story when needed, she is her own person. But of course she is a supporting character in the book, but for Lurie to think of her like that needs to be pointed out.

I was continually angered and annoyed by this book. But that, I believe, was Coetzee’s aim. He certainly achieved it. ( )
  Fence | Jan 5, 2021 |
It's a surprise to my why this book won awards. Maybe because those giving the awards are like the main character. ( )
  paulmorriss | Dec 29, 2020 |
I'm reading all the Man Booker prize winners this year, in the 50th anniversary of the prize. Follow me at www.methodtohermadness.com

Coetzee was the first author to win the Booker prize twice: first in 1983 for Life & Times of Michael K, about a young South African man of color trying to leave a terrifying city life to return to the country. One might say that Disgrace is similar in a way, since it is about another man who retreats from the city to a farm. However, Coetzee’s second booker winner (1999) reminds me more of Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist (1974), because both feature a privileged white South African man. Disgrace’s protagonist, professor of communications David Lurie, has not chosen his retreat: he is rather in exile, or disgrace, for sexual harassment of a student. This must have been one of the first novels to deal with the growing political correctness that began to be felt in the 1990s.

After David has his brief and selfish affair with a student, and refuses to cooperate with the investigative committee, he resigns and goes to his daughter’s farm and kennel. He begins to rebuild his life, volunteering and writing, until he and his daughter are attacked by local thugs. The two crimes and their aftermath are vastly different…or are they?

I try not to read too much about a novel before I finish it, preferring to form my own opinions. But as soon as I finished this one, I turned to the front matter: a page of extracts from reviews. The words that jumped out at me were “cold” and “uncomfortable”; “perplex” and “disturb.” I agree with all of those. I also try to refrain from too much interpretation in these reviews, in order to let my reader (readers, I hope!) form *their* own opinions. But I must say that this novel, lean as it is, is rich with symbolic material about fathers and daughters, crime and penance, even dogs and people. It is about a world in which the sexes, races, and species are overcoming centuries of inequality. It’s a slow and painful process. ( )
  stephkaye | Dec 15, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 210 (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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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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After years teaching Romantic poetry at the Technical University of Cape Town, David Lurie, middle-aged and twice divorced, has an impulsive affair with a student. The affair sours; he is denounced and summoned before a committee of inquiry. Willing to admit his guilt, but refusing to yield to pressure to repent publicly, he resigns and retreats to his daughter Lucy's isolated smallholding. For a time, his daughter's influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonise his discordant life. But the balance of power in the country is shifting. He and Lucy become victims of a savage and disturbing attack which brings into relief all the faultlines in their relationship.

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