Issue Details: First known date: 2015... 2015 'Playing It by the Book' : The Rule of Law in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace
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'Lucy Lurie's rejection of legal avenues of redress is perhaps the most notable and inscrutable twist in J. M. Coetzee's 1999 novel Disgrace. In contrast, her father, David Lurie, is the only character in the novel to seek the protection of 'the law' explicitly, first in challenging the procedures of the university committee charged with investigating his relationship with Melanie Isaacs and, later, in the aftermath of the attack at his daughter's farm. There, his investment in 'the law' stands in opposition to the perceived lawless, 'anthropological' world of the Eastern Cape (118). This essay will focus on what is invoked - and renounced - in the name of 'the law' in Disgrace, showing the range and specificity with which the law is depicted in the novel and offering, as a result, a context in which to locate Lucy's rejection of legal avenues of redress. Building on critical accounts of the novel's engagement with specific legal frameworks and institutions, the essay will argue that this must be considered as part of the novel's wider preoccupation with the legal architecture of the post-apartheid state, with the cultural and popular basis of legality more generally, its colonial and apartheid legacy, and the protection that the law can offer to women in particular. Disgrace engages directly with the enormous investment in the rule of law in post-apartheid South Africa, the essay argues, not by conjuring up an image of post-apartheid South Africa as lawless, but by questioning the liberal construction of the law as pure, universal, rational - the medium above all in which difference can be transacted. Close attention to the workings of the law in Disgrace reveals an acute concern on the part of Coetzee with the practical implementation of the transition to democracy in South Africa, the legacy of colonial and apartheid modes of governance inscribed within it, and the neoliberal present that shapes it.' (Publication abstract)

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Last amended 23 Mar 2015 13:40:15
160-178 'Playing It by the Book' : The Rule of Law in J. M. Coetzee's DisgraceAustLit Research in African Literatures
  • Disgrace J. M. Coetzee 1999 single work novel
  • c
    South Africa,
    Southern Africa, Africa,
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