Disgrace J.M. Coetzee


Disturbing not because of events themselves rather it is the failure to quench my sense of moral outrage at these events. I cannot, will not detail the events in question since that would do naught but ruin the experience of reading Disgrace for others. No, it is always best to approach art without bias, to form one’s own opinion.

What is Disgrace about? It’s about a man who is floating, floating, floating away from reality, living more and more in a romantic concept of life brought on by reading too much poetry, of trying to live life as the poets suggest while only acknowledging those physical needs such as eating and sleeping and sex. He ignores the reality of the culture in which he lives, so it’s no surprise that one day reality comes home to roost.

What is Disgrace about? It’s about a South Africa at war with itself as one culture begins the violent process of reasserting itself, of eradicating the culture that had formerly enslaved it.

We’re falling fast, heading to the deep dark levels of this novel’s subconscious. So now what is Disgrace about: When everything is scraped away, all the euphemisms of life, the trappings of culture, what we’re left with is the survival instinct. It is an exceedingly selfish instinct and often horrifyingly cruel. And I keep hearing the refrain from a song made famous in the sixties by Peggy Lee: “Is that all there is?”

Just one little after-note: Coetzee, born and raised in South Africa, immigrated to Australia and is now a citizen of that country. (less)

Marcia Letaw

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