Thursday, October 9, 2014

Disgrace - J.M.Coetzee

Reading two books consecutively from the same author is perhaps first time for me..I get easily bored with one author's story and would always search for different tales from different authors and genres..But J.M.Coetzee's writing style captivated my mind..As the Noble prize winning author needs no introduction,I'm skipping that part here..My earlier read was 'Youth' which is a story of an youngster..Surprisingly,back-to-back I picked 'Disgrace' which is a story of a 52 years old man..Somehow,through out reading I was comparing the disparities of both age groups..

Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Coming to the novel 'Disgrace',Twice divorced,David Lurie (52) a professor in Technical university of Capetown,South Africa loses his job,career,honour when he forcibly seduces his student Melanie Isaacs..We can not term it as rape but it was undesirable to her..This affair sours,he is denounced and summoned before an inquiry committee..David admits his guilt but refuses to repent publicly..Thus with disgrace he leaves his job and retreats to his daughter Lucy who lives a country life in Eastern Cape..Lucy was a peasant woman by choice..For some time the father-daughter's country life was peaceful but soon the repercussions of Post apartheid South Africa shadowed their lives..

This novel is simply a reflection of the struggled lives under racial segregation in South Africa.Also there were other characters portraited very uniquely:The Dog Man-Petrus,The animal welfare woman-Bev Shaw,Sarah,Rosalind,Melanie's parents and younger sister Desiree..But most of the story revolves around David and Lucy..You cannot come to proper conclusions after reading this novel..It finally leaves you with many unanswered questions..For instance,why Lucy wants to stay back in the country even after facing that much of turmoil ? How can a strong woman like Lucy simply obey the cruel laws of  discrimination ? There was no proper account of the actual race of Melanie though her surname indicates Jews..Anyways we can assume her as Black considering the plot..The best part of this work is,It would not justify one side of the coin..It widely discussed the violence and suffering of people on both the ends.;Blacks and Whites..Lurie himself is not sane in this story,he has his share of flaws and he committed his part of violence..He would be a free man and could act according to his will in Cape Town,a city but country side has it's own rules..One more interesting part from the book was Lord Byron's..David works on an Opera in which he works on the popular poet Lord Byron's affair with a married woman Teresa..Here David's free life style much resembles with Byron's..One more favourite part was,David's revelations in front of the inquiry committee..It's hard to put our feelings in to words after reading some kind of books..Books like this were wrapped with some ugly truths and beautiful lies..After finishing this book,I'm sure this story and characters would haunt you for many days..I haven't seen yet but this book was made into a movie under same title in 2008..

Few lines from the book:
Yet we cannot live our daily lives in a realm of pure ideas, cocooned from sense-experience. The question is not, How can we keep imagination pure, protected from the onslaughts of reality? The question has to be, Can we find a way for the two to coexist?

“When all else fails, philosophize.” 

She gives him what he can only call a sweet smile. 'So you are determined to go on being bad. Mad, bad, and dangerous to know. I promise, no one will ask you to change. 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 throat.

David's words while inquiry,
"Very well,' he says, let me confess. The story begins one evening, I forget the date, but not long past. I was walking through the old college gardens and so, it happened, was the young woman in question, Ms Isaacs. Our paths crossed. Words passed between us, and at that moment something happened which, not being a poet, I will not try to describe. Suffice it to say that Eros entered. After that I was not the same.'
‘I was not myself. I was no longer a fifty-year-old divorce at a loose end. I became a servant of Eros."

Being a father ... I can't help feeling that, by comparison with being a mother, being a father is a rather abstract business.

If we are going to be kind, let it be out of simple generosity, not because we fear guilt or retribution.

He would not mind hearing Petrus’s story one day. But preferably not reduced to English. More and more he is convinced that English is an unfit medium for the truth of South Africa.


Panchali said...

Difficult...Demanding but ultimately rewarding...
Loved reading your review!! Feels good to come back to blogging after a long hiatus...:)

Ananya Tales said...

Thanks for the book review :) sounds interesting ..

Indrani said...

Interesting story line.

Tomichan Matheikal said...

Coetzee is a challenging writer. Thanks for the review.

Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Nagini, I’m almost ashamed to admit I’ve read nothing by J. M. Coetzee maybe now is the time to put that right. Having read both your recent reviews I think I would prefer Youth to Disgrace (well obviously, I would prefer to be youthful than to be in disgrace but that was not quite what I meant!) I think Youth sounds like something I would enjoy I’m not so sure I feel the same way about Disgrace. My goodness it’s difficult to make a sensible sentence out of those two titles! :-) Have a good weekend, Barbara x