Disgrace

by J.m. Coetzee

Random House UK | May 12, 2000 | Trade Paperback

3.5714 out of 5 rating. 7 Reviews
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, 4.72 × 7.48 × 0.39 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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– More About This Product –

Disgrace

Disgrace

by J.m. Coetzee

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 220 Pages, 4.72 × 7.48 × 0.39 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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