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Disgrace- J.M. Coetzee

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Aernout Casier

on 22 April 2014

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Transcript of Disgrace- J.M. Coetzee

Disgrace- J.M. Coetzee
LitCult Empire '14
My dearest students,
Welcome to my favourite course: LitCult Empire. In this course we will be looking at three novels in depth. You will also choose a fourth one to explore individually.

During this course, the content I would not want you to miss will be available online in Prezis. In class we will be working on your assignments. I will try to assist you in making your writing as effective as possible.
In the section above you will find a number of subsections, providing you with possible essay topics for Disgrace. For each subsection I have provided several (yet not all!) useful quotes and/or the pages on which they can be found.
I advise you to first read the novel, then pick a theme you wish to investigate, then reread the novel taking notes relevant to your theme.
Page numbers are references to my edition, Vintage 2000.
Your task will be to explore one of these themes and write an essay of 750-1000 words about it.
For each of the novels you hand in an assignment. There will be strict deadlines. Not meeting a deadline means you forfeit your first submission.
All submissions have to be sufficient.
Setting: Cape Town (p.12) & Salem (59), South Africa; late 1990s
Main characters:
David Lurie
- An old-fashioned Capetown University Professor; 52 y.o. & over the hill; twice divorced; teaches communication & Romantic poets (p.1, 3, 7, 91)
- David's prostitute; private about her private life.
Melanie Isaacs
- David's student; they have an affair.
Lucy Lurie
- David's daughter; lesbian; farmer; gets raped.
Bev Shaw
- Lucy's neighbour; becomes love interest for David
- Lucy's neighbour & assistant; black

Rarely have titles of novels been so apt. But... who is/are disgraced? By whom?
"if he has been shamed, she is shamed too." (p.31)
"...but if I was you I'd be very ashamed of myself, so help me God." (p.38)
"The whole thing is disgraceful from beginning to end." (p.45)
"Lucy's secret, his disgrace." (p.109)
(54) (85) (115) (143) (171-2) (215)
In for a challenge? Do some background research into Byron and what he was known for. You will be pleasantly surprised to have a topic for your essay presented to you on a silver plate.
"notoriety and scandal not only affected Byron's life" (p.15, 31)
"Byron, Lucifer, Cain, it is all the same to them." (p.34)
(62) (66) (179) (181-5) (214)
South Africa old vs new
In SCC Empire you learnt a thing or two about South Africa. This novel is about much more than its characters. If you want, you can explore this too. You might want to look at city vs country, or young vs old(er) while you are at it...
"Two in a bed, lovers no longer but foes." (p.40)
"with no mention of the pain he has caused, no mention of the long history of exploitation of which this is part." (p.53)
"Perhaps history has learned a lesson." (p.62)
"His daughter (...) showing him this other, unfamiliar world." (p.71)
"It is a new world they live in, he and Lucy and Petrus. Petrus knows it, and he knows it, and Petrus knows he knows it." ( p.117)
(4) (9) (22) (43) (77-8) (89) (91) (107) (112) (118) (120?) (123) (124) (125) (126) (129) (133) (140-1) (147) (151) (156) (158) (171-2) (194) (197) (201) (204) (206)
Changing fortunes/roles
Look at how roles/fortune/relationships in this novel change/shift.
(Lucy vs Lurie / Lucy vs Petrus)
"she has spoken to him as if to a child." (p. 103)
"It is a new world they live in, he and Lucy and Petrus. Petrus knows it, and he knows it, and Petrus knows he knows it." (p.117)
(5) (28) (49) (86) (112) (114) (116) (129) (140) (151-2) (156) (161-2) (167) (176)
(197-8) (203) (212) (215) (217)
Lurie and Lucy are from different worlds. As are Soraya and Melanie. Or Lucy and Melanie. Or Petrus and Lurie. Or city and country.
Yet, however different they may be, they have things in common as well. Feel free to explore. Maybe your research will help you understand these characters and their relationships with each other better.
Setting / background / quotes... this is one of those topics where almost everything is relevant.
(65) (71) (118) (125)
Whilst reading you probably noticed that animals play a rather large part in this novel. Dogs, snakes & wolves, to name a few.
"The dogs that are brought in...own fertility." (p.142-3)
(2) (10) (16) (60-2) (68) (73-4) (78) (80) (82) (84-5) (90) (108) (110) (123) (126) (131) (142) (146) (152) (159-0) (168) (178) (185) (198) (205-6) (210-2) (215)
, in fact, 'just' be one big metaphor? If so: for what? Brace yourself for a rollercoaster ride in which you can incorporate almost all of the themes mentioned before, should you be willing to tackle this question!
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