Disgrace
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Disgrace

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  40,395 ratings  ·  3,085 reviews
A divorced, middle-aged English professor finds himself increasingly unable to resist affairs with his female students. When discovered by the college authorities, he is expected to apologise and repent in an effort to save his job, but he refuses to become a scapegoat in what he see as as a show trial designed to reinforce a stringent political correctness.
He preempts th...more
Paperback, 220 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by Penguin Books (first published 1999)
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Dreams Come True by Bridgitte LesleyLong Walk to Freedom by Nelson MandelaDisgrace by J.M. CoetzeeCry, the Beloved Country by Alan PatonMy Traitor's Heart by Rian Malan
Best South African reads
3rd out of 137 books — 86 voters
Sam Certainly Can by Bridgitte LesleyLong Walk to Freedom by Nelson MandelaWaiting for the Barbarians by J.M. CoetzeeThe Collected Works of Herman Charles Bosman by Herman Charles BosmanThe Sabi by Diane  Brown
Best South African Books
20th out of 93 books — 52 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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J
This book made me want to read Twilight. Yes, Twilight: perfectly perfect young people falling in love and never growing old. God, I hope that’s what’s in store for me there. I need an antidote to Disgrace.
It affected me more than I thought it could, in ways I hadn’t imagined possible. At page ten I would have readily given it five stars; the writing is superb. Halfway through I’d have given it four. Excellent, but slightly annoying. At the moment I finished it, shouting “WHAT?? What the hell...more
sckenda
“Strange fits of passion I have known.... She dwelt among untrodden ways.” --William Wordsworth

“Note that we are not asked to condemn this being with the mad heart, this being with whom there is something constitutionally wrong. On the contrary, we are invited to understand and sympathize. But there is a limit to sympathy. It will not be possible to love him....He will be condemned to solitude.” (34)-- J.M Coetzee

Is there redemption after disgrace? Can one bear disgrace with dignity? If so, does...more
Ben
This could have been the most uncomfortable I’ve ever felt while reading a novel. The issues and themes addressed are those that are immersed in the sensitive, pitch-black parts of my insides. And it didn’t relent; not once did it get easier. It was painful to keep going, yet I was gripped and couldn’t stop.

Mining through our darker spirits is not pleasurable. Looking at the world and its sickness, and feeling some of its constant, inherent pain is no easier. But when these merge together, a glo...more
Garima

It's admirable, what you do, what she does, but to me animal-welfare people are a bit like Christians of a certain kind. Everyone is so cheerful and well-intentioned that after a while you itch to go off and do some raping and pillaging. Or to kick a cat.

At the beginning, it appears pretty easy:

- To hate David Lurie.
- To take Coetzee’s writing for granted.
- To assume that everything would fall in its right or may be wrong place.
- To anticipate a letdown feeling by just another Booker prize nove...more
Nathan James
ummm...no. I'm afraid for me, this book suffers from what I call the Booker disease. I've read very few books that won the Man Booker prize that I've enjoyed.

--------SPOILERS AHOY AHOY-----------------------
I looked through the GoodReads comments concerning this book and saw a lot of positive feedback. But not one of those comments talked about Coetzee's horrible dialogue. All of his characters speak like a phlebotomy textbook, and they are all just an obvious soundboard for the author's opinio...more
Kim
There should be one of those button options on GR that states this review has been hidden due to hormonal, maybe not so justified, incoherent rants… click here to view

Because that’s what you’re about to get.

David Lurie is a playah. In the full urban dictionary sense of the word.

A male who is skilled at manipulating ("playing") others, and especially at seducing women by pretending to care about them, when in reality they are only interested in sex….A certain class of low-rent, slack-jawed fuck...more
Dolors
Aug 04, 2013 Dolors rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those in need of a dignified end.
Recommended to Dolors by: sckenda
Shelves: read-in-2013
Brace yourself to meet Professor David Lurie, banished son of the Romantic Poets, he roves and loves, spreading his unfertile seed unapologetically.
Byronic in his burning desire to possess female bodies, he doesn’t crave for their souls, it is the release of the flesh, the ecstasy of the unloved that he is after.
Fifty-two year old David seeks only his own pleasure and succumbs to his instincts as the true womanizer he is, or as he calls himself a lover of women, paying homage to Wordsworth in nu...more
Aubrey
This is all very quixotic, Professor Lurie, but can you afford it?
We've started going over the terms of tragedy in one of my classes, working through the definition before setting off on our reading of Othello. One of these delineations uttered by my professor went along the lines of the difference between 'unfortunate accident' and 'tragedy', the death of the main character's lover and said main character's succumbing to a fatal flaw, respectively. I say, if that is indeed the linguistic case,...more
She-Who-Reads
I literally just finished this book a few minutes ago, so I have not by any means worked though all of my reactions to it yet. It is written in a very spare, emotionally distanced style, even though it deals with very emotional topics. It is a page-turner, an absorbing, fast read that keeps you anxious to find out what happens next -- but that seems almost incidental, besides the point. I thoroughly disliked the main character, David Lurie -- he is unbelievably arrogant and chauvinistic -- but t...more
Jessica
Man, living in South Africa really sounds like it sucks.

---

Nabokov insisted that "one cannot read a book: one can only reread it," and while I suspect he was right I almost never read books more than once. There are just too many unread books out there for me to stop and go back in most cases, unless I'm made to do so for a class, which this time I was, just two years after first reading Disgrace.

There are a couple obvious reasons why it's good to reread books, and one has much more to do with t...more
Liza
I would like very much to be able to coherently refute this novel. After finishing it I felt as though I had maybe been taken in because while reading it I accepted its premise(s), but afterwards I wondered if what had seemed true really held up to the glare of daylight.

There was a review by James Wood that I liked a lot, and here is a quote from it: “But people like novels that, however intelligently, tell them what to think, that table ideas and issues - novels that are discussable. Above all...more
Jason
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rakhi Dalal
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Teresa
A brilliant, nearly flawless novel. I don't know a whole lot about contemporary South Africa, but it's obvious this book has a lot of important things to say, through its story and its characters, about the state of the country. Actually, though it's a slim novel, it has a lot to say, period. For starters, there's the meaning behind words, including the title word. There's also the indignities of life (and death) for animals and humans: growing older, becoming redundant, becoming too many.

Lurie...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
BkC 18) Coetzee, J.M., [DISGRACE]: Wonderful writing, is there a story here?

I think I must have been in a foul humor when I wrote that. There is indeed a story here.

About disgrace, about the taking of grace from another being, about the horrors of which grace, in its religious meaning, is capable of holding back.

David Lurie, fifty-two, isn't a bad man. He isn't a good man, either. He is a human male possessed of a libido and enough facility of mind and tongue to service that libido's demands. Th...more
Jr Bacdayan
Morality vs Mortality

This is not a standard review of Disgrace. I have chosen to tackle a perspective that I think is very apparent in the novel, but is mostly overlooked by many of its readers. Sure, the common way of looking at it is already enough to judge its genius, but I think this is another feasible one. As they say “Words are form, man gives the meaning.” There have been few moments of genuine awe in my reading experiences and I can without any trace of doubt say that reading my first C...more
Cheryl
A story of human rationality, devoid of emotion and stripped of conscience, toward the other including those more vulnerable in status and kind. A perfect telling of western civilization requiring thought, contemplation, and sometimes contrition.

FAVORITE!
Ellen
...And, on second thought..."

I re-read this book last night and am still trying to sort out my feelings. At the level of writing, J.M. Coetzee is brilliant, his prose both spare and evocative.

But what to do with David Lurie? Coetzee humanizes this man and even invites us to empathize. Yet, does Lurie deserve our pity, on any level? He uses women, selected solely on the basis of their looks, and frequently expresses his contempt for women who are not beautiful. At the beginning of the book, he fi...more
laura
Jan 02, 2008 laura added it
Shelves: fiction
i don't know how to assign this book anything as linear as a 1-5 rating. it's an oddly troubling book. i didn't enjoy it, but i've continued to think of it and to be troubled by it for longer than any book written in recent memory, and that's quite something. i'd call it compelling, but i usually save that word for books that confront me with something undeniably/complicatedly true, and i don't know if this book is true or not.
Nidhi
Coetzee writes a prose that is captivating, smooth-flowing, lucid, but still very difficult to comprehend. The text leaves you in a myriad of doubts with a no approaching resolution offered by the author even if you reach the end. The doubts could be regarding what opinions you could have regarding a character or what judgement would you pass to their actions. And being judgmental here is definitely not an unwanted response, because the characters, their actions, and their decisions are so troub...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I had had no interest in reading Disgrace for many years but am now thoroughly glad I did, especially with the movie adaptation coming out (starring John Malkovich).

It's a quick read - I read it in about 6 hours (non-continual) - and very light on its feet. For all that, it deals with many political, cultural, racial and social issues and is definitely worthy of some in-depth study at college or university level.

David Lurie is a white Professor at Cape Town Technical University; shunted out of t...more
Brad
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. Noth...more
MJ Nicholls
A fierce, intelligent book so deep, dark and delightful I would need to write one of those exhaustive reviews I usually skim-read or scan for paragraph breaks to do it justice. But right now, I can’t. Let me keep it brief: an aging academic is brought tumbling down after the suspected or implied rape of a young student, then forced to deal with his own brutal assault and horrifying rape of his daughter. If you thought that was enough fun, it all takes place in South Africa, so there’s a whole ra...more
Kathleen Carr
I think this is a very well-written novel. Coetzee is very well-regarded so this isn't news. However, when I finished the book, I felt like there was something missing. After thinking about it and discussing it with someone else who read it as well, I think it comes down to the portrayal of the main female character, David's daughter. I don't think he authentically developed this character in a way that would explain her (shocking) decisions in the novel. You could argue that this is the point-...more
William
Disgrace is a beautifully written, emotionally blunt novel that maps, in shadows and scars, the complicated cultural geography of contemporary Cape Town. In Disgrace the decadence of Western privilege overlays the body of rural Africa; the useless academic hopes to shape and tame the simple thoughts of the unformed young; and art seeks to find honesty in first distantly mimicking then finally respecting the rough-hewn people it mines for material. Finally, and in a manner that makes this novel s...more
K.D. Absolutely
J. M.Coetzee richly deserves his second Man Booker Award (1999) as I enjoyed this far more than his The Life and Times of Michael K (Man Booker Award 1983). This is also the one included in the 501 Must Read Books so I read it.

The story is about an aging professor (52 y/o) who had an affair with his student that caused his expulsion from the university. He has been twice divorced and with the pension denied by the university, he had no choice but to live with his lesbian daughter who chose to li...more
Matt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tanuj Solanki
In "Disgrace", Coetzee has achieved a universality, a far-reachingness over and above the setting and the action. This novel howls to be counted as one of the best novels of the previous century.

If existentialism is a humanism, how does it deal with loss of dignity?

This is the main question that Coetzee poses. He never states it in as many words, of course. Like Naipaul, his questions are asked through the action, and all that the character choose to say or leave unsaid. Each event in the novel...more
Hayes
Ok, so the professor sleeps with his student... been there, seen it, done it--well, I haven't done it, but when I was at university (late 70s, early 80s) all of my classmates were sleeping with their professors. I found it moderately shocking at the time, but seeing as everyone was a consenting adult it didn't seem worthy of much more comment than "ew..." or "cool...", depending on who was involved.

The story in Disgrace is a little more complicated, but (30 years after my college experience) th...more
Elizabeth
There is "Disgrace" at so many levels in this book: the main character is caught having an affair with his student, the violence against an innocent woman, and the death of countless animals. Big issues are addressed in this book: race, politics, sexual orientation, PLUS the causes of senseless violence. It takes a serious look (and poses many questions) about the consequences and aftermath of apartheid.
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John Maxwell Coetzee is an author and academic from South Africa. He is now an Australian citizen and lives in South Australia.
A novelist and literary critic as well as a translator, Coetzee has won the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature.
More about J.M. Coetzee...
Waiting for the Barbarians Life and Times of Michael K Slow Man Elizabeth Costello Foe

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“When all else fails, philosophize.” 139 likes
“(I)f we are going to be kind, let it be out of simple generosity, not because we fear guilt or retribution.” 82 likes
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