Nobel Prize Winners discussion

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1991-2000 > Disgrace by J M Coetzee

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 04, 2011 12:39AM) (new)

Please post your comments on Disgrace in this thread.


message 2: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth I completed the novel in one day. I only had to stop for a few breaks because it was so powerful. Not for the faint hearted, but a beautiful piece of literature.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I took two days, and yes, it is powerful and beautiful, and a wonderful social commentary. I'm sure we will all disagree on what is the key message in it but for me it was about not raging "against the dying of the light." There is something quite primeval about both father and daughter.


message 4: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth With all the Philip Roth reading I have been doing lately I focused on the ageing aspect of Lurie. Many passages had great insight into knowing the body is ageing, but not wanting bring the mind along. (I want to quote and discuss situations but I also don't want spoilers for people not done yet).

Another huge aspect for me in the novel was how redemption was found exactly the two places it wasn't expected.


message 5: by Lauli (new)

Lauli Just about to finish! Really liking it so far.


message 6: by Lauli (new)

Lauli Finished now. I agree with David that there is something primeval connected with sexual desire in Lurie, and with manual farm labor in Lucy. I found the assault scene very shocking, and had a hard time dealing with the question of codes in the area Lucy lives, how she's not supposed to denounce her offenders for fear of turning her neighbours against her.
I'm not sure I walked out of the book feeling hopeful. Even though Lucy is about to give birth, and this hints at a new life beginning for her as a mother, and for her dad as a grandfather, I cannot help thinking that they will never be safe in that community where their neighbours can bully them into doing whatever they want (even if this imposition comes as a historical retribution).


message 7: by Inga (new)

Inga Bjornson | 7 comments I read this book this spring and enjoyed it. I found his apathy about his job/reputation/"rape of his student frustrating. I felt no hope for their relationship improving and feared for Lucy's future. I would reccommend Coetzee's story of his boyhood entitled "Boyhood"


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

One question that has puzzled me of late “How best to grow old?” is not answered in this book, but neither is it ignored. One of the poems that I included in my father’s memorial service some 15 years ago was “Rage Against the Dying of the Light” by Dylan Thomas. I fondly imagined, as I was turning 50, that the only possible course of action as one prepares for decrepitude and death is to go down will all guns blazing. For surely no-one who retained full possession of their faculties could not want to keep on fighting, do anything to delay that bitter end. More recently it has occurred to me that the very, very fortunate can accept the inevitable peacefully and with equanimity, but they are believers for whom life has been geared solely towards the moment of death.

In Disgrace however, Coetzee, through the character of David Lurie, hints that there comes a time when one realises that the struggle of life has to end, and fighting against it is futile. For me, that is perhaps the most important lesson that this superb book has to offer. As Lucy says: “I cannot be a child forever. You cannot be a father for ever. I know you mean well, but you are not the guide I need, not at this time.” It is from that moment that David realises that he can no longer exert any influence on his daughter’s life, he can no longer protect her, nor can he be anything other than an anachronism. He is a little more than a half-forgotten memory from his daughter’s childhood, a bothersome intruder in a life that has to be accepted for what it is, riven of all ambition other than to rear her child. However, as he approaches the end of his dissolute life, David finds a kind of peace, a kind of acceptance that his life will end but others lives will continue, and that is, perhaps, the important message that Coetzee is conveying in this stark but beautiful novel.


message 9: by Cl. (new)

Cl. | 43 comments It really depends on how one thinks of Death. Is it the end of all we know? And is our only hope of any sort of continuance, through offspring or immortal works of art--what survives of what we've built or produced?

"How best to grow old?" I should think acceptance and joyful anticipation. If one thinks of Death as not the end; but as a form of birth into something else, it's not so bad.

It is fear of the unknown and a sense of impending loss that causes humans to rail against the inevitable, natural order of things.

BTW, David. Thank you for the incredible job you've been doing with moderating this group. Bravo.


message 10: by Inga (new)

Inga Bjornson | 7 comments There is an excellent critique of this book in Robert Adams's book "The Love of Reading,the second collection, more reviews of Contemporary Fiction" He makes the analagy between Lucy's acceptance/fogiveness/must live in this country rational of the rape to the black people's same response to their past life and the "rape" of the whites.

Adams reviews 15 books in each of his books and I love his historical background as well as analysis of each book.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks, Inga, for drawing Adams' book to our attention. I'll look out for it in our increasingly rare bookshops.


message 12: by Inga (new)

Inga Bjornson | 7 comments Thanks for your part Dafydd in organizing all this-I am about half way through "The Grass Is Singing" and loving it and looking forward to the discussion-where is it? or does it begin after the end date?


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