Teresa's Reviews > Disgrace

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
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Jul 07, 2011

it was amazing
Read in July, 2011

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 is self-delusional about many things, but, all credit to Coetzee, he is still (though only eventually) sympathetic. Lurie is one of those men we wouldn't want to know in real life (an action he has completely deluded himself about is especially heinous) but perhaps you may find that he redeems himself, which is something you might not think about a 'real' disgraced person, and that in itself provokes thought.
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Comments (showing 1-33 of 33) (33 new)

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·Karen· This is wonderful, Teresa, have you read it before?


Teresa Karen wrote: "This is wonderful, Teresa, have you read it before?"

No, I haven't. I've read several other Coetzee novels, but not this one! I can't believe it's taken me this long to get to it.


·Karen· You are in for a treat.


Lisa I agree, I think it's his best book and not just because it's the most accessible.


Teresa I'm not too far into it, but already I see Coetzee's philosophy on the treatment of animals (what I know of it from some of his later novels) coming through out of the mouth of Lucy, the daughter.


message 6: by K.D. (last edited Jul 10, 2011 12:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely This is his most famous work and it almost bagged the Booker of Bookers award losing only to Salman Rushdie's The Midnight's Children.


·Karen· Very acute review, Teresa. I like your comments on redemption in particular. I do remember that from my reading of 'Disgrace'; I was not too sure if Lurie was consciously aware of the need for penance, or if it was more or less an instinctual thing. The question then would be is redemption something that comes through ratio or is it within each of us, a part of our basic humanity?


Teresa K.D. wrote: "This is his most famous work and it almost bagged the Booker of Bookers award losing only to Salman Rushdie's The Midnight's Children."

Yep, and it deserves to be his most famous, I think. The Rushdie is another one I love, and so very different from Coetzee.


message 9: by Teresa (last edited Jul 10, 2011 10:11AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Teresa Karen wrote: "Very acute review, Teresa. I like your comments on redemption in particular. I do remember that from my reading of 'Disgrace'; I was not too sure if Lurie was consciously aware of the need for pena..."

Thanks, Karen. I could've gone on and on, but I figured most of it has probably been said in other reviews. I can see that this book would make for a great group discussion.

Good point, and I'm not sure either. Either way, I feel he had to fight his own nature to reach the point he does arrive at -- or does he arrive at it, despite his nature? And, yet, he has still more 'work' to do -- and it will end up being, literally, his life's work.


message 10: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Very interesting and provocative review Teresa (in the sense of provoking me to read it and Coetzee). Do you suggest starting here or with another of his books?


Teresa Sue wrote: "Very interesting and provocative review Teresa (in the sense of provoking me to read it and Coetzee). Do you suggest starting here or with another of his books?"

Yes, I think this would be a very good place to start. I read "Elizabeth Costello" and "Slow Man" before I read this one, and wish it could've been the other way around.


message 12: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Thanks Teresa


message 13: by Maria (new)

Maria Fabulous review - I've never read him but if I were to I might pick this one! Is it his best in your opinion?


Teresa Maria wrote: "Fabulous review - I've never read him but if I were to I might pick this one! Is it his best in your opinion?"

Thanks, Maria. So far, out of the ones I've read, yes! Besides, the ones I mentioned above, the only other one I've read of his is Life and Times of Michael K.


message 15: by Maria (last edited Jul 14, 2011 11:10AM) (new)

Maria Okay. I've been avoiding this author because I have the idea that he'll end up being a "project." I've heard he's good & I'll want to read everything of his. (And when do I get to the rest of Henry James, dammit? I'm still, as you can see, just a little bit "behind" in my reading...)


Teresa Maria wrote: "(And when do I get to the rest of Henry James, dammit? I'm still, as you can see, just a little bit "behind" in my reading...) "

I managed to finish reading all of Dickens' novels several years ago -- a planned project of mine. Not sure I'll ever finish all of James (I've read quite a bit of him already) though I sure would like to.


message 17: by Maria (new)

Maria There's always another book in the offing to entice us. I haven't finished Dombey & Son from childhood nor the big big one -- which is it again? -- & I tend to reread favorites over & over. Nor Cricket on the Hearth. And I'll never read A Christmas Carol again; couldn't stand all that over-the-top smarminess. Treacle!

But I'd like to get to The Ambassadors before too long.


Teresa Maria wrote: "There's always another book in the offing to entice us. I haven't finished Dombey & Son from childhood nor the big big one -- which is it again? -- & I tend to reread favorites over & over. Nor C..."

Bleak House? Not sure, most of them are big. ;)

"The Ambassadors" is a very good one!


message 19: by Maria (new)

Maria The big big big one in two volumes. Bleak House is my favorite, btw.


message 20: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue I should probably set some concrete goals. I have met a couple, having read Anna Karenina and Doctor Zhivago and half of Brothers Karamazov. Now I guess I need to address some other...2 by Iain Pears, many by Dickens and James, Cather and Stegner. I want to re-read some Faulkner and read some for the first time. Oh my!...if I didn't like to read so much this would be scary.


message 21: by Teresa (last edited Jul 14, 2011 02:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Teresa Maria wrote: "The big big big one in two volumes. Bleak House is my favorite, btw."

Hmmm ... all of mine are in one volume. "Little Dorrit?"

"Bleak House" is one of my favorites, if not my favorite, but "Our Mutual Friend" might be more of a favorite. ;)


message 22: by Teresa (last edited Jul 14, 2011 02:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Teresa Sue wrote: "I should probably set some concrete goals. I have met a couple, having read Anna Karenina and Doctor Zhivago and half of Brothers Karamazov. Now I guess I need to address some other...2 by Iain Pea..."

I feel it's a good thing to do for an author etc you're passionate about.


message 23: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue I was passionate about Faulkner in college. Maybe that would be a goal to start with. Decisions, decisions.


message 24: by Maria (new)

Maria Maybe I'm thinking of the Nicholas Nickleby one, Teresa -- did they make a mini-series out of it once? If so, that'll be it. Good times getting older and not remembering things...

Yes, Sue, so was I -- he's one of my top 5, in fact.


message 25: by Teresa (last edited Jul 14, 2011 03:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Teresa Maria wrote: "Maybe I'm thinking of the Nicholas Nickleby one, Teresa -- did they make a mini-series out of it once? If so, that'll be it."

Yes, it was made into a mini-series. I almost mentioned that one, as I think it's too long. It's an early one, not one of my favorites and could've done with some editing, imo, though I suppose it might lose some of its perceived charm if that happened.


message 26: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue I'm really feeling my need to read more Dickens too. Well --- time and books!! Just need to make judicious use of both.


message 27: by Maria (new)

Maria Hmm. Perceived charm? Uh oh. Was the mini-series any good in case you saw it?


Teresa Maria wrote: "Hmm. Perceived charm? Uh oh. Was the mini-series any good in case you saw it?"

All I mean by that is that others find it charming, I know, but not me so much.

I think I saw an episode. I know the series is supposed to be wonderful, but I knew I wouldn't be able to catch all of it, so never really tried.


message 29: by Maria (last edited Jul 15, 2011 04:47PM) (new)

Maria The problem with a series is that we must commit and we don't usually want to!


Dolors Perfect succinct review, which couldn't be more spot on, Teresa.
I was mostly taken with the way the general dry tone of the novel is interwoven with lyrical passages, amidst carnage and violence. Masterful.


Teresa Thanks, Dolors. I hope to read the novel again one day.

Have you read other Coetzee? I would venture to say dryness mixed with lyricism is a trademark of his prose.


Dolors No Teresa, this was my first one.
I have Age of Iron on my shelves though, I hope to get to it soon.


Tajma I loved this novel!


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