Disgrace

by J.m. Coetzee

Random House UK | May 12, 2000 | Trade Paperback

Disgrace is rated 3.5714 out of 5 by 7.
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 farm. For a time, his daughter''s influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonize 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 faults in their relationship. Chilling, uncompromising and unforgettable, Disgrace is a masterpiece.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 220 pages, 7.8 × 5.1 × 0.56 in

Published: May 12, 2000

Publisher: Random House UK

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0099289520

ISBN - 13: 9780099289524

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved It Perhaps certain people like certain genres when choosing a book - i know i do. This was not my typical choice in that i ususally choose a well written, well characterized stories that will end happily or at least with some positive closure. I only occassionally choose something heavier in theme to read. But this book has well developed characters and is so well written. Even without the typical happy ending (though that too is debatable depending on your perspective) i found this a brilliant read. I would recommend it.
Date published: 2009-10-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Poignant Set in Cape Town, South Africa. David Lurie is a middle-aged white university professor and twice divorced who has taken a habit of sleeping with prostitutes and seducing his students. When his affair with one of his students turns sour, and after being summoned before a disciplinary committee, he resigns and retreats to a small farm owned by his daughter. The story begins to unravel when their house in the farm was ransacked and looted by black characters, and the differences in strength and weaknesses between the father and daughter becomes apparent. Although I can't relate to either of them, both in character and life perspective (and there were times when I got so frustrated with the daughter), this novel will leave you pondering about the dynamics of social relations (with dogs included) and generally, human relationships.
Date published: 2009-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Painful I am sad today. Having just finished reading JM Coetzee's "Disgrace" how could I be anything else? But the sadness is definitely worth the experience. "Disgrace" is not for everyone, perhaps it is only for very few, but for those few who connect with the protagonist, David Lurie, or any other character in its pages, there is something sadly magical that happens: a visceral connection with the real. That is what makes "Disgrace" such a potent work of fiction -- the reality of its characters. Nothing in the book is satisfying because life itself is not satisfying. Coetzee could have made choices that would have made "Disgrace" a happy, and easily life affirming work, but he made "Disgrace" true -- thereby insuring that only a few could appreciate his words, and that even fewer would make their hard way through to "Disgrace's" painful message. "Disgrace" is a beautiful, brutal, melancholy work that will never leave my system.
Date published: 2008-01-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It starts off good but... I felt the period of the book where David and Melanie are together is the books most powerful part. After that it seems to trail off. When David leaves the city for the country to be with his daughter Lucy on her farm I found was too slow, the characters to subtle and the action not as intense as in the first act. But in general I liked the book.
Date published: 2006-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Disgraces Grace J. M. Coetzee’s novel “Disgrace” is a perfect example of a story reflecting many different stories with in one story. There are many levels of disgrace in this story, and there is also themes of isolation, revenge, repentance, sacrafice and many more. One can give this a feminist reading, or a Markist reading. The each of the characters have their own personal struggle and their own personal fall from grace. This story has a true to life feeling to it, in that in life there is not always a 'happy' ending, some times one is just as happy with it ending.
Date published: 2005-04-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Pretty darn tootin' unhappy. Rather than read this book, I suggest you go to a funeral instead. Less miserable things happen at funerals. The service only takes about an hour to conclude, whereas this book takes several. People try to make the best of things at a funeral, while nothing is ever good for anyone in this book ever. So, yeah. Don't waste your time with this one. It's a sad-factory.
Date published: 2004-03-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well...I guess it's good I read this for a book club. I agree that Mr Coetzee can write well, but his characters seem so disconnected from the reader that I found it hard to feel for and with them. Besides, middle aged men who seem to be able to have sex with beautiful young women is beyond my ken. The only moment that really moved me was at the very end. I have also read Youth, by the same author, and it is even more disconnected. I think it's called existentialism.
Date published: 2003-11-02

– More About This Product –

Disgrace

by J.m. Coetzee

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 220 pages, 7.8 × 5.1 × 0.56 in

Published: May 12, 2000

Publisher: Random House UK

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0099289520

ISBN - 13: 9780099289524

Read from the Book

Without the Thursday interludes the week is as featureless as a desert. There are days when he does not know what to do with himself. He spends more time in the university library, reading all he can find on the wider Byron circle, adding to notes that already fill two fat files. He enjoys the late-afternoon quiet of the reading room, enjoys the walk home afterwards: the brisk winter air, the damp, gleaming streets. He is returning home one Friday evening, taking the long route through the old college gardens, when he notices one of his students on the path ahead of him. Her name is Melanie Isaacs, from his Romantics course. Not the best student but not the worst either: clever enough, but unengaged. She is dawdling; he soon catches up with her. ''Hello,'' he says. She smiles back, bobbing her head, her smile sly rather than shy. She is small and thin, with close-cropped black hair, wide, almost Chinese cheekbones, large, dark eyes. Her outfits are always striking. Today she wears a maroon miniskirt with a mustard-coloured sweater and black tights; the gold baubles on her belt match the gold balls of her earrings. He is mildly smitten with her. It is no great matter: barely a term passes when he does not fall for one or other of his charges. Cape Town: a city prodigal of beauty, of beauties. Does she know he has an eye on her? Probably. Women are sensitive to it, to the weight of the desiring gaze. It has been raining; from the pathside runnels comes the soft rush of water. '
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From the Publisher

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 farm. For a time, his daughter''s influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonize 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 faults in their relationship. Chilling, uncompromising and unforgettable, Disgrace is a masterpiece.

From the Jacket

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 farm. For a time, his daughter’s influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonize 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 faults in their relationship. Chilling, uncompromising and unforgettable, Disgrace is a masterpiece.

About the Author

J.M. Coetzee is a professor of general literature at the University of Cape Town. He is the author of seven novels, most recently The Master of Petersburg, and of the memoir Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life. His many awards include the Booker Prize in 1983 for The Life & Times of Michael K, the Prix Femina and the Irish Times International Fiction Prize. J.M. Coetzee is the first author ever to be awarded two Booker Prizes.

Editorial Reviews

"The richness of Disgrace lies in the elegant and allegorical role reversals, the spare symbolism of the language and in the characterization. We may not like David Lurie, but in Coetzee''s skillful hands we can''t dismiss him without pity." -- The Globe and Mail

"Coetzee is able to dissect the human psyche with a surgeon''s touch." -- The Hamilton Spectator

"Marvellous." -- The National Post

"Disgrace is a subtle, multilayered story, as much concerned with politics as it is with the itch of male flesh. Coetzee''s prose is chaste and lyrical -- it is a relief to encounter writing as quietly stylish as this." -- Independent

"Disgrace is at the frontier of world literature." -- Sunday Telegraph

"J.M. Coetzee''s vision goes to the nerve-centre of being. What he finds there is more than most people will ever know about themselves, and he conveys it with a brilliant writer''s mastery of tension and elegance." -- Nadine Gordimer

Bookclub Guide

1. Consider the nihilistic vision supported by Lurie and every other character in Disgrace, perhaps with the exception of Lucy. Is there any hope of reconciliation between different ethnicities, sexes or even members of the same family?

2. After the brutal attack, the novels themes become clear. Consider the landscape of this novel and the fact that it is still apparent in Mandela''s South Africa.

3. Lurie, though fascinating, is not a sympathetic character. After the attack, his abiding concern is for his daughter. Is his love for Lucy his saving grace? And to what extent do you sympathise with her wish not to press charges against her attackers?

4. ''There must be some niche in the system for women.'' Lurie has made use of women and his own daughter is used in turn. Women are the objects of punitive violence. Discuss the unswerving pessimism in Disgrace.

5. The dog imagery throughout this novel is chilling and indelible. Examine this figurative language. What does Lurie''s ambivalence towards the young, injured dog at the end of the book suggest to you?

6. The Coetzeen hero lives in a world of lawlessness, where social structures are in chaos and morality and decency no longer have the same currency. In Disgrace, what moral uncertainties does Coetzee make you confront?

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