David Lurie's learning and the meaning of J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace

Wright, L.S. (2010) David Lurie's learning and the meaning of J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace. In: J.M.Coetzee's Austerities. Ashgate, Farnham, Surrey, England, pp. 147-162. ISBN 9780754668039

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Abstract

One of the teasing characteristics of novels soused in literariness, like J.M. Coetzee’s, is their tendency to leak, to bleed, into vast inchoate terrains of intertextuality.The reader is constantly challenged to measure and assess their implications within or against the frail containing form of the story, much as Russian formalism taught us to keep sujet and fable in perpetual dialogue. However, it has become apparent that in the dense thickets of commentary occasioned by Coetzee’s most controversial novel, Disgrace (1999), insufficient attention has been paid to the intertextual implications of David Lurie’s learning, his scholarly preoccupations. Unless the reader attempts this kind of exploration, two of the most vexed issues freighting the novel’s central fabulation: Lucy’s curiously stoical, impassive response to her rape, together with her decision to stay on in South Africa; and David Lurie’s sudden, seemingly inexplicable care for the doomed dogs, from their last moments at the animal shelter until he lovingly consigns their corpses to the incinerator, must remain opaque. In particular, the final words of the novel, “Yes, I am giving him up” (220), uttered in relation to the immanent “Lösung” of the little dog Bev Shaw calls Driepoot, will tend to taunt the reader, rather than illuminate.

Item Type:Book Section
Additional Information:Based on a paper delivered as a plenary address at "Africa in Literature," the 15th International Conference of the English Academy of Southern Africa, held in association with SAWA, AUETSA, SAWAL and SAACLALS,at the University of Cape Town, 10-13 July 2005.
Uncontrolled Keywords:J.M. Coetzee; Disgrace; Richard of St Victor; Goethe; Verdi; Wordsworth; Byron; Schopenhauer; Castor and Pollux; entsagen
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Africa, Eastern Asia, Oceania > African languages and literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA)
ID Code:1663
Deposited By: Prof Laurence Wright
Deposited On:06 May 2010 15:00
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
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