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.' (Publisher's blurb)
'JM Coetzee’s Disgrace is a novel that has earned admiration and provoked dismay.'
'The prospect of death is one of J. M. Coetzee’s central and enduring concerns. As David Attwell observes in his biography, ‘The most trenchant of the purposes of Coetzee’s metafiction . . . is that it is a means whereby he challenges himself with sharply existential questions’. My claim in this essay is that Coetzee uses the act of writing existentially to orient himself and his readers to the prospect of death. I argue that Coetzee treats the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as a story about how to deal with the prospect of death. What seems to terrify the Coetzeean protagonist is the thought of the absolute solitariness of death. I call this the curse of Eurydice. Eurydice’s fate in the myth is to be left alone in the Underworld, dying for a second time after her impatient lover turns to gaze at her before they have safely reached the surface of the earth. To take Eurydice’s point of view in the story is to begin to glimpse the solitariness of death. One of the roles of women in Coetzee’s fiction, I suggest, is to mitigate the male character’s fear of this solitariness by conducting him to the threshold of death, but no further.' (Publication abstract)
'This essay approaches the rape of Lucy and the simultaneous massacre of her dogs in J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace from three perspectives. First, the plot reveals the collusion between sexism and speciesism. Second, in the context of South-African colonialism, the rape of a white woman and the massacre of "colonial dogs" by blacks are acts of revenge in reaction to colonial history. Third, Coetzee’s animal ethics finds full expression in his choice of such "incriminating terms" as massacre and L?sen when narrating the killing of dogs.'
Source: CAOD database.
'Through a reading of J. M. Coetzee's novel Disgrace this paper discusses the contemporary genre of reading literature in terms of an 'ethics of perception.' In the fourteen years since its publication the novel has elicited a rich body of commentary and criticism with an ethical edge, often focusing on the unfolding vision or stunted but developing perceptiveness of its uneasy protagonist David Lurie. This path of criticism is paradigmatic of a broader interest in studying literary works as paths to moral philosophical illumination. I discuss how the novel yields to this kind of reading, but also how this path of reading is complicated by its various other features, above all, a plurality of values that may be hard to reconcile and a Christian perspective of grace which is played against the novels secular, intellectual perspective on perceptiveness. I argue that reading Disgrace in terms of any pre-given ethical formula, however compelling, may be problematic considering the nature of Coetzee's authorship.' (Author's abstract)
‘The rapidly growing field of human-animal studies (HAS) is a vibrant, varied domain of methodological convergences and divergences, united by a shared concern with studying the complex entanglement of human and animal lives. To think seriously about animals on their own terms is to begin to question the co-construction of the categories of the human and the animal that underpins human the animal that underpins human exceptionalism. Unpicking the human/animal binary, however, is no simple matter: not only is this construction unstable but as prisoners of human language we also have a tendency to reinstate it even as we think we challenge it. This paper will provide an analysis of significant developments and preoccupations in the field of literary HAS. Some of the most vexing questions within this area will be contextualised by way of reference to the Bandit and Michael Vick cases in the US and J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, in particular scenes depicting David Laurie’s encounter with unwanted dogs at an animal shelter.’ (Publication abstract)