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Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee Essay - 1459 Words | Cram
But Coetzee’s book is more than just an illustration of contemporary South Africa, even though the country’s main problems during its sometimes disgraceful transformation play an important role.
Disgrace was published by South African writer J.M. Coetzee in 1999 and immediately rose to both critical and popular acclaim. The novel earned Coetzee an unprecedented second , one of the most prestigious literary prizes for novels written in the English language (he was also awarded the Booker Prize in 1983 for his novel ). Coetzee went on to win the for literature in 2003 for his entire body of literary work. Out of Coetzee's many highly-regarded novels, however, Disgrace remains one of his most popular and widely-read works. It even hit the big screen recently in a starring .
The novel tells us the story of David Lurie, a professor in Cape Town, South Africa, who is finds himself in the middle of quite a scandal when he has an affair with a student that goes awry. When David moves out to the country to live with his grown daughter Lucy and wait for the scandal to blow over, he enters an entirely different world. The Eastern Cape is still reeling from the horrors of Apartheid, a system of racial segregation and oppression, which only recently ended (for more information on Apartheid, see our "Setting" section). Thinking that he would leave disgrace and shame behind him in Cape Town, a vicious attack on Lucy's home drives both father and daughter to the lowest depths imaginable.
As with many of Coetzee's novels, Disgrace reveals the troubled relationship between its characters and their native South Africa. In previous works like , Life and Times of Michael K, and , Coetzee renders disturbing visions of . Unlike these other novels, Disgrace takes place after the end of Apartheid; nevertheless, it shows the ways in which the memory of racial and political oppression persists and is very much alive out in the country, pervading characters' attitudes, actions, and relationships.
It is worth noting that Coetzee himself ultimately left South Africa for Australia in 2002, where he became a citizen in 2006 and continues to live and write today. His major works of fiction since then, , , and , have taken place in Australia, though his most recent work, a fictionalized memoir called (2009), largely takes place back in South Africa. To read Coetzee's fiction is to learn a great deal about his own background and ambivalent attitudes toward the country where he spent his youth. As the last work of fiction that Coetzee published prior to leaving South Africa, Disgrace not only gives us insight into what life was like for many during a difficult time in his native country, but it also tears into our sympathies and fears on a universal, human level.
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Choosing your literary essay topic and the approach you will take on Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee is the first step to writing the paper due at the end of this month.
“Disgrace” is a pitiless and errorless book about the condition of the human experience at the end of the twentieth century; while not altogether without hope, the book and its title is a condemnation of the basic state of modern humanity.
What happens in this book can be summed up quickly.
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