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 the authorities and leaves his job, and the city, to spend time with his grown up lesbian daughter on her remote farm Things between them are strained there is much from the past they need to reconcile and the situation becomes critical when they are the victims of a brutal and horrifying attack In spectacularly powerful and lucid prose, JM Coetzee uses all his formidable skills to engage with a post apartheid culture in unexpected and revealing ways This examination into the sexual and political lawlessness of modern South Africa as it tries desperately to start a fresh page in its history is chilling, uncompromising and unforgettable


10 thoughts on “Disgrace

  1. J J says:

    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 methan 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 h 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 methan 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 kind of ending is THAT and wondering if I was going into shock, I d have demanded stars back for ruining my life A little distance was needed before I could consider it rationally again The word disgrace is what struck me with nearly every page Coetzee s writing is like that Tight There s no escaping what he wants you to see It s not outrageously blatant, but it s none too subtle either It s good So good you might be tempted to revel in it Do not This is not for the faint hearted Run Read something easy, something happy Anything If you stay Coetzee will turn that word, disgrace, in your mind a hundred different ways I m no stranger to the word I have been a disgrace, been disgraced, disgraced myself and others Seriously I thought I was immune to it The main character, David Lurie, is disgraced Big deal He disgraces a student Yeah, I m familiar with that She ll live He is a disgrace Yes, clearly David Lurie is entering the disgrace of growing old That s where Coetzee has me I can t find it in me to despise Lurie He s a Lothario and possibly worseShe does not own herself Beauty does not own itself, but I don t have to live with him Then there s the sharp intelligence with too little empathy or emotion to make it truly sing The bare objectiveness He claims to have lost the lyrical within himself, but it s doubtful he ever had it He s a pretender I m amused by the fact that he, a professor of language, begins the affair that causes his public fall from grace by quoting Shakespeare s first sonnet The words apply as much to himself as to anyone But self delusion is my own stock in trade I can t condemn him for that I don t love him either I feel as dispassionate as Lurie himself The disgrace of the dying though the without grace that younger generations foist upon them That they re made to feel as intruders in life, burdensome This is where Coetzee hooks me And he reels me in Reels me in until I find myself suffocating in a world I want no part of A world of shame, dishonor, humiliation, degradation Disgrace. That of a man, a father, a daughter, a woman, an unborn child Now make those plural Add the disgraces of South Africa, of humanity, of animals Yes, animals I suspected Coetzee would sneak in a little commentary on that He has a reputation I did not expect to be so affected by it I, a confirmed carnivore, did not expect to lie awake at night considering vegetarianism Coetzee brings that passionate quote at the beginning of this paragraph back to hit me square in the face near the end though and once again Disgrace. So five stars, but would I recommend it I m still not sure Read it if you dare Coetzee is brilliant


  2. Lizzy Lizzy says:

    To begin with, let me make something clear J.M Coetzee s Disgrace left me intellectually fulfilled and severely shocked Fulfilled at the simplicity and beauty of its narrative which resulted in a powerful drama shocked at the impact it had on my innermost self This is not a book for the faint hearted If you lack faith in your fortitude, do not even start, read something easier But that would be a pity, for you would be deprived of an experience that will only enrich your understanding of To begin with, let me make something clear J.M Coetzee s Disgrace left me intellectually fulfilled and severely shocked Fulfilled at the simplicity and beauty of its narrative which resulted in a powerful drama shocked at the impact it had on my innermost self This is not a book for the faint hearted If you lack faith in your fortitude, do not even start, read something easier But that would be a pity, for you would be deprived of an experience that will only enrich your understanding of the world If you stay, Coetzee will grant you a masterpiece And there have been some moments of genuine awe in my reading experiences, but I can without any trace of doubt testify that reading Coetzee is always one of them Disgrace follows David Lurie s fall from grace, a professor of poetry and communications, that is unable to fit in a tormented post apartheid South Africa David clashes with the University s politically correct environment as well as with the land dispute barbarism in the country s interior, where his daughter lives.With an immaculate prose, in which no word is wasted, the novel is a plunge into a society lacerated by poverty, criminality and a social conduct values deadlock Disgrace is a work of art, rare nowadays that that refuses simple explanations, which reinvents and enriches realityBut the truth, he knows, is otherwise His pleasure in living has been snuffed out Like a leaf on a stream, like a puffball on a breeze, he has begun to float towards his end He sees it quite clearly, and it fills him with the word will not go away despair The blood of life is leaving his body and despair is taking its place, despair that is like a gas, odourless, tasteless, without nourishment You breathe it in, your limbs relax, you cease to care, even at the moment when the steel touches your throatAt 52, twice divorced, David is solitary, resigned, erudite and sarcastic He does not care for the disinterest of his students show his poetry classesHe continues to teach because it provides him with a livelihood also because it teaches him humility, brings it home to him who he is in the world The irony does not escape him that the one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn learn nothingHe contemplates writing an opera on Lord Byron, but always postpones the project He believes to havesolved the problem of sex rather wellon Thursdays afternoons he visits a prostitute that could be his daughter, pays what he owes her and has the right to the oasis of one and half hours of his continuous and dreary mundane existence view spoiler His life, bureaucratically justified, capsizes when the prostitute dismisses him and, even knowing the mistake it is, has an affair with one of his students By disdaining political correct codes, accused of abuse, David falls in disgrace He becomes an outcast and retreats to the country to his daughter Lucy s the only person he has some affectionate bond remote piece of land in the Eastern Cape He comes, then, in contact with the post apartheid South Africa,country where it is a risk to own things a car, a pair of shoes, a pack of cigarettes. hide spoiler In what is to come, he will face a brutal reality, made of vengeance, banditry, submission Brutality against which occidental culture is simply worthlessHe speaks Italian, speaks French, but Italian and French are useless to him in Black Africa .J.M Coetzee builds in Disgrace flesh and blood characters and, through them, weaves relationships between classes, between men and women, between parents and children, black and white, between a long exploration history and a present of explosive resentments.Situated in nobody s land, where civilization and barbary mingle a region well known by Brazilian readers, Coetzee slowly denudes realities and ultimately tells us that there are no just rewards, there are not even fairnessHow humiliating, he says finally Such high hopes, and to end like this Yes, I agree, it is humiliating But perhaps that is a good point to start from again Perhaps that is what I must learn to accept To start at ground level With nothing Not with nothing but With nothing No cards, no weapons, no property, no rights, no dignity Like a dog Yes, like a dog ____


  3. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    Update 1.99 Kindle special today for those who can handle reading this book the writing and story gets inside you and doesn t leave quickly Disgrace is a perfect title David Laurie, professor, father, divorced, twice married , jobless after and inappropriate affair, temporary farmworker, is a disgrace David dips into a downfall transgression with himself and his daughter, Lucy Racial tensions run high.violence is on the rise.brutal..in South Africa and this wa Update 1.99 Kindle special today for those who can handle reading this book the writing and story gets inside you and doesn t leave quickly Disgrace is a perfect title David Laurie, professor, father, divorced, twice married , jobless after and inappropriate affair, temporary farmworker, is a disgrace David dips into a downfall transgression with himself and his daughter, Lucy Racial tensions run high.violence is on the rise.brutal..in South Africa and this was post apartheid.It was easier for me to understand the disgrace of David..than it was for me to understand Lucy s train of thought after the horrific things that happened to her Step into Africa with J.M Coetzee..complex, controversial, personal political..Choices to cringe over.yet compassion is circulating in our thoughts Powerful winner of the 1999 Booker Prize note readers who are extremely sensitive to animals abuse, may not want to read this or skip over parts


  4. Bill Kerwin Bill Kerwin says:

    This short novel, written in spare, economical prose, tells the story of a not particularly likable middle aged Capetown college instructor who falls into disgrace because of an affair with a student and is soon reduced to living with his daughter in the bush and working as a euthanizer at the local animal shelter A violent incident occurs, and disgrace takes on another meaning The novel is both merciless and compassionate not an easy combination to achieve , and is also incisive in its p This short novel, written in spare, economical prose, tells the story of a not particularly likable middle aged Capetown college instructor who falls into disgrace because of an affair with a student and is soon reduced to living with his daughter in the bush and working as a euthanizer at the local animal shelter A violent incident occurs, and disgrace takes on another meaning The novel is both merciless and compassionate not an easy combination to achieve , and is also incisive in its portrayal of the changing world of South Africa


  5. Ilse (on Semi-Hiatus) Ilse (on Semi-Hiatus) says:

    Perhaps it does us good to have a fall every now and then As long as we don t break Professor David Lurie is forced to resign when his affair with a student comes to light His resignation and the humiliations he gets to swallow as a parent burn chinks in his cynical armour and self image By volunteering in a veterinary clinic, his indifference to man and animal gradually gives way to empathy Disgrace deals with the human inability to communicate effectively and with the uncertain relatPerhaps it does us good to have a fall every now and then As long as we don t break Professor David Lurie is forced to resign when his affair with a student comes to light His resignation and the humiliations he gets to swallow as a parent burn chinks in his cynical armour and self image By volunteering in a veterinary clinic, his indifference to man and animal gradually gives way to empathy Disgrace deals with the human inability to communicate effectively and with the uncertain relations between black and white in post apartheid South Africa Coetzee writes soberly and compactly He aptly records the wry horror of raw physical and psychological violence.Disgrace hits like a sledgehammer, but results in a catharsis that one doesn t forget lightly A staggering book Willie Bester, Transition, 1994Misschien is het goed voor ons om af en toe te vallen Zo lang we maar niet breken Professor David Lurie ziet zich gedwongen ontslag te nemen als zijn affaire met een studente aan het licht komt Zijn ontslag en de vernederingen die hij als ouder te slikken krijgt, slaan barsten in zijn cynische pantser en zelfbeeld Door zijn vrijwilligerswerk in een dierenkliniek maakt zijn onverschilligheid voor mens en dier geleidelijk plaats voor empathie In ongenade handelt over het menselijke onvermogen tot werkelijke communicatie en over de onzekere verhoudingen tussen blank en zwart in het Zuid Afrika van na de apartheid Coetzee schrijft sober en compact Hij registreert trefzeker de wrange gruwel van rauw fysiek en psychisch geweld.In ongenade komt aan als een mokerslag, maar resulteert in een catharsis die je niet licht vergeet Een onthutsend boek


  6. Ben Ben says:

    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 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 glorifying truth is present one we train ourselves to avoid in order to make life easier But to read Disgrace intently and honestly is to not have a choice in these matters, and the reward is a realness and truth found in very few novels Your own moral inadequacies are dug up and looked at directly, as is your culture your race your generation your values your guilts and your sense of justice Your way of life gets shaken Yet the general state of all life, as a whole, is exposed Because people are weak and corrupt, life for the individual wavers in many ways But life itself, with all its beings put together with nature, the earth, and all it entails is solid and ongoing Life is still Life is indifferent The meat of existence is unbending and immovable And it goes on.


  7. Candi Candi says:

    I finished this book a little over a week ago and for the first time I couldn t decide how to rate a book, much less write a review about it So here I am still mulling it over, reading through my notes and trying to type some sort of articulate thoughts into my laptop I don t really think I liked Disgrace I respected the writing it made me think a lot I had trouble finding any beauty in it and I think that is where the problem lies with this book for me If a book touches me emotionall I finished this book a little over a week ago and for the first time I couldn t decide how to rate a book, much less write a review about it So here I am still mulling it over, reading through my notes and trying to type some sort of articulate thoughts into my laptop I don t really think I liked Disgrace I respected the writing it made me think a lot I had trouble finding any beauty in it and I think that is where the problem lies with this book for me If a book touches me emotionally, or if I learn something by reading it, then I can truly say I loved it However, the only real emotion I felt was anger if anything else I didn t really learn much except that unfortunately maybe I am correct in that life can be really crummy at times and people sometimes unpleasant or in some cases downright despicable How does one get into a state of disgrace and is it possible to move back into a state of grace afterwards Perhaps.Professor David Lurie is a man I disliked right from the starta woman s beauty does not belong to her alone It is part of the bounty she brings into the world She has a duty to share itOkay, there s that And then there is the fact that he has an affair with one of his students, a young woman that could be his own daughter, who is in fact younger than his daughter, Lucy This is where I had some trouble raising my own daughter that is still school age and under the influence of her own teachers and others that have positions of power over her this perhaps makes me a poor audience for this book When David is faced with harassment charges, he will fall into a state of disgrace But what exactly does disgrace mean to David He has no regrets for what he has done He says to Lucy,One can punish a dog, it seems to me, for an offence like chewing a slipper A dog will accept the justice of that a beating for a chewing But desire is another story No animal will accept the justice of being punished for following its instinctsDisgrace to him is not loss of his job, loss of respect, or loss of face Rather for him it is the process of aging, losing that magnetism that attracts others, even perhaps not leaving behind a legacy for which he can be proud When David leaves Cape Town to stay with Lucy in Salem in the Eastern Cape of post apartheid South Africa, he will have time to ponder the state of disgrace and all of its inherent meanings Lucy and David do not see eye to eye, but I have to give David some credit for trying to understand his daughter and the life she has made for herself on her farm and with the animals under her care When violence erupts and becomes personal, David is placed in a position that prompts even further self reflection Much of this book is uncomfortable and harsh There may be triggers for those that are distressed by cruelty to both animals and people, so I want to note that warning here Coetzee did manage to make me side with David and pull for him partway through the book I couldn t really understand Lucy I felt sympathy for her but her actions troubled me and left me feeling a bit hopeless I m not thoroughly convinced that David will transform, but I can envision the opportunity I will continue to hope for that state of grace As far as a rating, well I ve finally settled on 3.5 The book is extremely well written no doubt about that However, based on my own personal reaction to the book, I have to rate accordingly I wouldn t turn anyone away from this book with the exception of the possible triggers noted above , but note that negative emotions got the best or should I say worst of me this time around


  8. Brina Brina says:

    I read Disgrace by Nobel Laureate J M Coetzee with a few friends in the group reading for pleasure A winner of the Man Booker Prize, Disgrace also fulfills the Nobel Laureate square on my classics bingo card All of Coetzee s novels have received multiple awards or prizes, and Disgrace is the first of his novels that I have read Although short in length, this introduction reveals to me the brilliance of Coetzee s writing David Lurie is a fifty two year old professor of communications at Cape I read Disgrace by Nobel Laureate J M Coetzee with a few friends in the group reading for pleasure A winner of the Man Booker Prize, Disgrace also fulfills the Nobel Laureate square on my classics bingo card All of Coetzee s novels have received multiple awards or prizes, and Disgrace is the first of his novels that I have read Although short in length, this introduction reveals to me the brilliance of Coetzee s writing David Lurie is a fifty two year old professor of communications at Cape Town Technical University Having been divorced twice and struggling to get inspired by his courses, Lurie engages in one affair after another with either prostitutes or women passing through town Lurie s last affair left a bad taste in his mouth, and for the first time he decided to sleep with a student Although this is hardly unheard of, Lurie is caught and forced to resign his position In the throes of both a scandal and midlife crisis, he moves in with his grown daughter Lucy A child of the city, Lucy has decided to live in a rural farming community on the eastern cape A young, determined woman of the younger generation, Lucy allows her father into her homestead but from the onset it is obvious that she would rather be left alone The generation gap is evident as she calls her father by his first name and does not bestow any respect on him Determined to do a better job as a parent as a middle aged man, Lurie feels the inherent need to parent Lucy at this trying time for both of them Coetzee s writing delves into what an affair and a rape is like for both the man and the woman, across lines of race and class Set in post apartheid South Africa, it is evident that blacks are still struggling in their relations with whites and feel the need to turn the tables on them Likewise, the younger generation that Lucy is a part of also does not see a need for white male protection In striving to erase these lines, Coetzee writes in third person and refers to all characters, even in passing, by their first names He treats all his persona with the same respect regardless of age, gender, or class, even the animals at the clinic where Lucy and later David work As a result, as a reader, I am able to feel empathy for all of the characters, even the stubborn ones like Lucy and the disgraced David For an introduction to Coetzee, Disgrace is a poignant novel After reading only women authors during women s history month, it was refreshing to read a novel written by a male author that shows empathy toward strong women characters The writing is powerful and deserving of its praise I am now inspired to readof Coetzee in the future to see firsthand the work that merited him the Nobel Prize Solid 4.5 stars


  9. Robin Robin says:

    A savage, ruthless book.At the onset of this 1999 Booker winner, I thought I was reading the story of 52 year old Capetown romantics poetry professor David Lurie, who has an affair with a student over thirty years his junior I was in awe of the storytelling, of how Coetzee was able to show much by saying little, about the two sides of that affair.Lurie, a man who identifies as a Byron esque lover, who has been twice divorced and who enjoys the services of prostitutes, isn t exactly likeable Es A savage, ruthless book.At the onset of this 1999 Booker winner, I thought I was reading the story of 52 year old Capetown romantics poetry professor David Lurie, who has an affair with a student over thirty years his junior I was in awe of the storytelling, of how Coetzee was able to show much by saying little, about the two sides of that affair.Lurie, a man who identifies as a Byron esque lover, who has been twice divorced and who enjoys the services of prostitutes, isn t exactly likeable Especially when he has the opportunity to save his career by simply issuing an apology, but doesn t, on principle His hubris is cold and unwavering.I thought the book would revolve around his fall from grace after being forced to resign from his position I guess it is, in a small part, but the book really begins after taking what seems like a wild left turn into the remote countryside of South Africa, where Lurie s daughter Lucy lives It s a whole other world a world that buzzes with danger.This 1990 s post Apartheid South Africa is a seething place, certainly unsafe for a white lesbian woman alone on a farm A terrible attack occurs, fuelled by hatred.So yes, it is a story about disgrace but Coetzee casts his net far wider than an aging philanderer who abuses his position of power and loses face in the academic community It isabout the disgrace of rape The disgrace of misogyny The disgraceful violence, resulting from Apartheid It also touches on the father daughter relationship, generational gaps, and what one is prepared to lose for one s principles It is about aging, loss of virility, and death And I haven t even discussed the animals those poor, poor dogs All in 220 pages what IS it with the powerful, short novels I ve been reading this month.I am disturbed by the brutality of life in this part of the world I m evendisturbed by how Lucy reacts to it She refuses to leave the farm after the attack Transformed into a walking dead, she is at the mercy of her attackers, becoming a peasant in the fields she once mastered I wasn t a fan of David Lurie, womanizer, objectifier, general dick head But I found myself pleading along with him, begging his daughter to choose something else for her life Instead, she loses herself, laying down in submission, much like a dog undergoing euthanasia.I m shattered by the way that Lucy lays down like a dead dog, whether it is in general terms as a woman in subjugation to the violence of men, or whether it is a political illustration of how white South Africans of this time laid down to take their punishment, a retribution for the sins of their fathers Coetzee is merciless in his depictions, pointing an accusing finger It s shocking, unacceptable A complete DISGRACE


  10. Steve Steve says:

    It s a little known fact where fact is understood in the contemporary, alternative sense that the title of this book was originally an acronym that Coetzee used as a guide for writing it Dishonor Inducing Sex Glaring Racial Antipathy Corroding EmotionsDavid Lurie, a white South African professor in his fifties, had taught communications and poetry in Cape Town An ill advised affair with a student spoiled all that David sought refuge with his daughter Lucy who experienced some conflicts o It s a little known fact where fact is understood in the contemporary, alternative sense that the title of this book was originally an acronym that Coetzee used as a guide for writing it Dishonor Inducing Sex Glaring Racial Antipathy Corroding EmotionsDavid Lurie, a white South African professor in his fifties, had taught communications and poetry in Cape Town An ill advised affair with a student spoiled all that David sought refuge with his daughter Lucy who experienced some conflicts of her own living in the country s interior With its setting in post apartheid South Africa, a race angle was virtually inevitable I have to say, the emotions packed a real punch, including some you don t see coming As far as I know, Disney had no role in producing the movie version of this raw and hard edged book Despite the lack of uplift, I did appreciate the writing and the plausibility of the angst Evidently, the Booker committee did, too, since they gave this one their fiction prize in 1999.This has been another entry in the KISS series Keep It Short, Steve Note that Steve itself is an acronym Severely Testing Every Visitor s Equanimity