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Disgrace
by J.M. Coetzee

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Twice married and twice divorced, his magnetic looks on the wane, David Lurie rather cruelly seduces one of his students, and his conduct unbecoming is soon uncovered. In his eighth novel, J.M. Coetzee might have been content to write a searching academic satire. But in Disgrace he is intent on much more, and his art is as uncompromising as his main character, though infinitely more complex. Refusing to play the public-repentance game, David gets himself fired--a final gesture of contempt. Now, he thinks, he will write something on Byron's last years. Not empty, unread criticism, "prose measured by the yard," but a libretto. To do so, he heads for the Eastern Cape and his daughter's farm. In her mid-20s, Lucy has turned her back on city sophistications: with five hectares, she makes her living by growing flowers and produce and boarding dogs. "Nothing," David thinks, "could be more simple." But nothing, in fact, is more complicated--or, in the new South Africa, more dangerous. Far from being the refuge he has sought, little is safe in Salem. Just as David has settled into his temporary role as farmworker and unenthusiastic animal-shelter volunteer, he and Lucy are attacked by three black men. Unable to protect his daughter, David's disgrace is complete. Hers, however, is far worse.
 

Topic: Re: DISGRACE (9 of 46), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 10:35 AM Beej, I say go ahead and discuss. I'm going to be putting my thoughts together soon, since I'll be in Boston when the "official" day rolls around. Sherry
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (10 of 46), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 12:57 PM Beej, Sherry, & All: If any book if were ever deserving of a Booker, IMHO, this one's it. What wonderful writing. What wonderful characters. I'm ready to let fly whenever you guys are. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (11 of 46), Read 36 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 01:05 PM I agree wholeheartedly, Dale. On the jacket, someone said this would be a classic for future generations. I think that's true. You always hear about "coming of age stories" and usually they are about young adults. Well, one facet of this was the coming of age (or at least maturity and acceptance of responsibility) of someone who is long past adulthood. Then there are the huge themes -- one being the of the guilt of a whole society, as exemplified by the reaction of one person. So many avenues of discussion. Which one shall we go down first? Sherry
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (12 of 46), Read 37 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 01:30 PM Okay, let me ask you this..which of the two do you understand better..the father or the daughter? I just have a feeling the men here will say they understand David, and the women will say Lucy. Do you mind if we take a little poll here? Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (13 of 46), Read 40 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 01:32 PM Sherry: I think the phrase "embarrassment of riches" certainly applies to the discussion possibilities of DISGRACE. On a personal note, I started running out of patience with Lurie not long after the sh*t hit the fan with the disciplinary board and he insisted on playing the smartass till the bitter end. "Principle is one thing," I kept wanting to shout at him, "but expediency and common sense should figure in, too." How far was this guy willing to push it, I kept thinking, on pure stubbornness and hubris, his best interests be damned? Then I started thinking back on some of my reactions regarding employers and ex-wives (not in his particular bowl of soup, thank goodness) and felt more than a twinge of empathy/sympathy. Damn the torpedoes; full testosterone ahead. And to think, I'm one of the more reasonable males on the planet...{G} Anyway, I'm looking forward to this one. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (14 of 46), Read 44 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 01:35 PM Beej: Not just trying to waffle on answering your question, here, but I think it's a sign of Coetzee's achievement that I cared for and understood both David and his daughter, polar opposites they were in so many respects, in almost equal measure. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (15 of 46), Read 42 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 01:36 PM Dale, I found his unwillingness to give in to that committee admirable! He was willing to take his consequences but was unwilling to grovel, no matter what it cost him. What a man! Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (16 of 46), Read 44 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 01:37 PM Dale, I'm glad to hear you say that. I really thought most men would have no clue as to why Lucy did not wish to report the rape. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (17 of 46), Read 46 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 01:42 PM Beej: As to Lurie and the committee again, I've found throughout the years there's a very fine line at times between courage and smartass-ness. {G} With his friends on the commmittee bending over backwards to be reasonable with him, I honestly think that if it weren't for the fact of women on the board for him to play to, at some point he might have cut a deal. (Which he may have regretted and/or taken back later, but still.) >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (18 of 46), Read 43 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 01:43 PM I do have a real problem seeing David's attraction to Melanie. I can understand a sexual attraction toward her, but not the emotional attraction. Is it because somehow she reminds him of Soraya? Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (19 of 46), Read 41 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 01:51 PM I guess the only smartassedness i saw was was when the reporter asked him if he was sorry for having an affair with one of his students and he replied," No.I was enriched by the experience". But I think he meant that! I don't think the committee had any other purpose for insisting on a full hearing other than to hear him grovel. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (20 of 46), Read 41 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 02:47 PM I thought David did okay with that committee. He pleaded guilty, what more did they want. His soul, apparently. Yes, things could have gone more easily if he was "cooperative," but it was his choice not to be. And what does an apology mean if it is not heartfelt? This whole thing smacked too much of "re-education." As for Lucy. I must be denso. Why, other than the fact that she had to live with these people, didn't she want the rape reported? Or was that it? Ruth, remembering her grad school days when everyone was sc@#$wing everyone and the devil take the hindmost. Things have changed, haven't they?
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (21 of 46), Read 41 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 03:17 PM Beej, I think I understand David better than his daughter. I'm like Ruth. I didn't understand why she wouldn't report the rape(s), unless she had a colossal load of race guilt hanging over her head. She was verging on having a Christ complex I thought. As for Lurie, I thought his obsession with Melanie and Soraya were both examples of his not having grown up. That's what I meant by a coming of age story. His body and mind had pretty much aged together, but his emotions were back there in his twenties. He really didn't see himself as a fiftyish guy (and do any of us?) When he was faced with really being a father (possibly for the very first time) his emotions started to catch up with the rest of him. What do you all think of the animal shelter? There has to be some pretty heavy symbolism in there somewhere. I know I reacted viscerally to it for reasons unknown to myself -- yet. Sherry
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (22 of 46), Read 43 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 03:22 PM Close Sherry, but I really wouldn't call Soroya and Melanie obsessions as I understand how that term is usually used. Then one day it all ended. Without warning his powers fled. Glances that would once have responded to his slid over, past, through him. Overnight he became a ghost. If he wanted a woman he had to learn to pursue her; often, in one way or another, to buy her. This is a 52-year-old man who has defined his manhood in the fashion described in the paragraph that precedes this. (". . .the backbone of his life.") Clearly, he has never really defined his manhood through his profession for which he has no real respect. Without warning his nose is pressed right up against the glass of his own mortality, and equally without warning women are now his tormentors instead of what they once were. (Your days are over, Casanova.") The fact that he is cool as a cucumber on the outside should not deceive us about how profoundly angry he is about all this on the inside. Pride requires that he refuse to go quietly. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (23 of 46), Read 43 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 03:28 PM I guess "obsession" really wasn't the right word. But I do think the idea of the young beautiful, adoring woman was a fixation with him. When that door shut (and my oh my wasn't it sudden) I can really see a cause for anger. Now, who would this anger be aimed at? Himself? Women in general? Everything? Sherry
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (24 of 46), Read 41 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 03:36 PM Sherry, I think David was just used to being able to have sex whenever he wanted and now it wasn't quite that easy for him. As far as Lucy not reporting the rape...I can understand that totally. She would have suffered insurmountable consequences. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (25 of 46), Read 46 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 03:37 PM Okay, Beej, for those of us a little slow on the uptake, could you spell out those insurmountable consequences? Ruth
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (26 of 46), Read 44 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 03:40 PM I am uncomfortable with "fixation," too. He seduced her, albeit a bit forcefully; he didn't stalk her. However, I won't quibble. If your ability with women has been the backbone of your life, what do you have to show for that life at 52 when that ability is gone? A couple of divorces. A nothing career. I don't think there is much with which he is not angry--except perhaps his daughter. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (27 of 46), Read 41 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 03:43 PM I think you're right, Steve. Reminds me of those women who build a life around the kids. Lurie's suffering a male empty nest syndrome. And it wasn't so bad, what he did with Melanie, except that one time when he really kind of forced himself on her. I'm not saying it was a fair deal, the way he seduced her, but then life isn't a fair deal. But that one time came perilously close to rape. Which is why I think there's a real parallel going on here. One which we're supposed to ponder on. David doesn't quite rape Melanie, it gets reported, he suffers consequences. The men rape Lucy, she doesn't report it, they don't suffer consequences. So what gives? Ruth
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (28 of 46), Read 42 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 03:49 PM Ruth,This is my belief... she was a white female, farming the land. This is a time of racial disquiet. The rape was a warning, I think. If she reported it, there would be a next time, and it would be worse. She wasn't going to lose that farm house over this rape. She had the same tenacity he father did when fighting that committee. Actually, both events are very similar in a lot of ways. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (29 of 46), Read 43 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 03:52 PM You know, guys, I don't see Melanie as a victim here. She slept with her professor! Sort of like saying Monica Lewinsky was a victim, isn't it? I don't buy it. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (30 of 46), Read 40 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 03:58 PM Although I have finished the book, I am going to bow out of the discussion for awhile until it stabilizes a bit. "Rape" is a loaded subject nowadays--big time, and a little caution is in order for me here. I simply wanted to state my view of David's state of mind and viewpoint. These initial few chapters were as masterful an introduction to a protagonist in a novel as I have run across in a long, long time. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (31 of 46), Read 42 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 04:07 PM Don't bow out Steve, your insight helps me figure things out. I really see what you're saying about how Lurie built his world around his ability to seduce. He used words and probably tone of voice and his intellect to bring women to his bed willingly. I don't think for a minute that Melanie was actually "raped", but I do think she was overpowered intellectually. I'm not quite sure that she knew exactly what to do with him or how to turn him down. Sherry
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (32 of 46), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 04:16 PM Perfect, Sherry. Overpowered intellectually = seduced. I didn't mean I wasn't going to say anything at all! You thought I meant that? Me? I simply meant that I wasn't going to leap right in the middle of the Lucy thing with both feet right away. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (33 of 46), Read 36 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 05:24 PM Steve: It’s good to see you joining us here, in this already stimulating colloquy! {G} I agree that these opening chapters are one of the fastest and most powerful descents into a character’s heart I’ve ever read. My mind is going in a hundred different directions, and I’ll try to stay off my individual soapbox(es) as long as I can, but: (1) David & Soraya & Melanie. As questionable, unwise, and/or just plain wrong Lurie’s behavior was toward both of these women, I think “obsession” or even “fixation” are both totally out of the ball park for describing it. And though in both cases it would trivialize David’s internal dilemma to say the affairs were “nothing personal,” I think there’s a grain of truth there. In any event, I don’t think any physical resemblance of Melanie to Soraya (a glancing reference to dark skin/hair, as I recall) played a part in David’s choices. The two women certainly held nothing in common for him, emotionally, EXCEPT...they were both “unknown quantities,” i.e. fantasies of a sort, at one time or another, over which he could exercise some limited measure of emotional control. Soraya became “known” when he saw her with her kids. Melanie never became “known,” because so many other of her family/friends intervened so quickly to start legal proceedings. The one detail of David’s/Melanie’s interaction that most stands out for me (opening of Chapter Four), ironically enough, also stands out for the narrator/author: ...One moment stands out in recollection, when she hooks a leg behind his buttocks to draw him in closer: as the tendon of her inner thigh tightens against him, he feels a surge of joy and desire. Who knows, he thinks: there might, despite all, be a future. There might, despite all, be a future. The obvious assumption is that he means a future for his and Melanie’s unlikely and ill-fated relationship. But I submit (didn’t Rod Serling used to say that?) that David is saying there might be a future, in that fleeting moment, for his life: at least for his sexual self-esteem and his imagination, which at the age of 50 or so sometimes temporarily constitute knowable life. At the risk of poking fun at my gender, I might also suggest that the beginning and ending of the bizarre “One moment...” paragraph above can at times seem a most logical and rational thought process to a well-educated 50-ish male. Got to go meet some deadlines, grill some dinner, and greet my (50-ish, hallelujah!) beloved. But I’ll be back. That’s a promise, and a threat. What a hell of a book Coetzee has written. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (34 of 46), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 05:36 PM Oh, Dale, clearly he is talking about his life. Not for a second is he contemplating some real partnership with this little gal. He has seen smooth skin and felt rippling muscles again for the first time in a long time without having paid cash on the barrel head for it! There may really be a little something left! (Notwithstanding the fact that he did have to force the issue a bit this time.) Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (35 of 46), Read 32 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 05:38 PM Boy, am I really glad you guys cleared this up for me. I (dumb ole me) really thought he meant a future with HER, and I was scratching my head. Your take makes perfect sense. Sherry
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (36 of 46), Read 36 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 05:41 PM What Sherry said. Ruth, with limited experience as a man
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (37 of 46), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 06:14 PM And see that it stays that way. The Chilbained Lawyer
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (38 of 46), Read 36 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Mary Anne Papale (mapreads@aol.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 07:27 PM I, too, related more with Lurie than his daughter in many ways. Perhaps this attributable to my years with daughters who don't want to do the sensible or rational thing. Here's something I noticed in the way of symbolism. There was quite a bit of sexual activity going on on Lucy's beds, both in her current home and in her father's home. We know that rape took place on Lucy's bed in the country. So what is Coetzee trying to say about the sex on Lucy's bed in David's home? Surely it's not rape. I like the word "overpowering". No one has mentioned the sex with Bev. What was that about? And we've got to discuss the stuff about the dogs. There's so much to talk about. Metaphors be with you... MAP
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (39 of 46), Read 36 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 09:06 PM Well, I for one, felt that Melanie did not EVER want to have sex with David, but she felt somehow obliged to do so because he was her teacher. Maybe, it is the teacher in me, but I felt very uncomfortable when I was reading this scene. David himself mentions that it was all a mistake to seduce her. I know that one of the times, she was about as passionate as a dishrag. It was very close to rape. I understood David very well, but I am not sure that I understand Lucie and why she doesn't want to start a new life somewhere else. I, too, want to talk about the "dog" thing. David seemed like the guide across the River Styx when he was making sure that the dogs were properly burned. Jane
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (40 of 46), Read 40 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 10:17 PM I wasn't uncomfortable with the Melanie/David sex thing. Maybe it's because I have a history of falling for my teachers, maybe it's because (as I said before) I went to grad school when everybody was sleeping withe everybody. At any rate, David may have had the advantage, because he was older and more experienced at seduction, but Melanie wasn't exactly forced into it. With the exception of that one scene, that came pretty close to rape, she looked like an uncertain, but willing participant to me. Don't forget that we are never privy to exactly what Melanie said in her charge, nor do we know whether or not it was purely voluntary. How much was the charge something that Melanie wanted to do, and how much was it the product of either the creepy boyfriend or the father? Ruth
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (41 of 46), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, September 11, 2000 11:33 PM (rape is very very rude men getting laid) Um we can see right away what David 'gets' from having sex with his student....but the writer doesnt point out or remind us what a student 'gets' from having sex with a prof. Youre right to remind us of times when this was de riguer Ruth. A student is able to enter a world it takes years of 'paying dues' to live. The good wine the exotic accomplished intellectual company, maybe in some cases easy grades(but thats a minor bemnefit, usually these students are already brilliant as well as beautiful!)Well I could list but it doesnt really matter, its not a big part of this story. The link between Lucys bed with her dad and her own adult bed? Well, I totally support how David approached his interview with the university. I think he was absolutely right to stand against them and also admit that he enjoyed his student relationships etc. But he was also attacked, Lucys rape is also part of his attack to, one was not worse his punch or the fire setting than her attack of rape. During his time with Melanie although hes a smart dude he is not connected to the reality that Melanie is not just Melanie and his relationship with her is also extended to her family...to HER dad. Its almost like hes completely out of it that its natural and normal for her father to behave defending her, in fact if he was more connected to that, and compassionate because of his kid thenhe might not have ever got involved with his students. I wonder if he had sex in his daughters room just to have 'straight sex' in there...just an idea, more later...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (42 of 46), Read 19 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 07:24 AM I really think Melanie knew exactly where they would end up when she went to his apartment that first time...He invites her to stay for dinner. What does he make? Anchovies on tagliatelle with mushroom sauce. Well, if a man invited ME, at any age, to stay at his place for dinner, and he served me anchovies, and I still stayed, it wouldn't be for his cooking skills...sounds fishy to me...:-) Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (43 of 46), Read 18 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 07:58 AM Perhaps we are making too big a deal out of this Melanie affair. I think the act was not as important as the consequences of the act. It was important, just not as important, in my opinion. I'm more intrigued by his relationship with Bev. I feel he thinks he is doing her a favor. And that really bothers me. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (44 of 46), Read 16 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 08:40 AM I don't think he was doing Bev a favor, Beej. I see it as part of his growing up process, of seeing himself more accurately. He was living in a dream world before, where he courted and bed lovely young women (so in some part of his mind he thought HE was a lovely young man). Don't you think the partners we choose reflect our self-image? When his self-image was shattered; when he saw himself truly, even though Bev was plain and had what was to him a ridiculous name (isn't it strange that he made judgements on her name?) I think he realized that life can indeed go on. Sherry
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (45 of 46), Read 16 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 08:48 AM As far as the Melanie affair is concerned, Beej, I think it serves as a "foreground" piece that at the outset rubs our noses in the fact that these things can be very ambiguous and very difficult to judge. Coetzee is just preparing us--getting our heads right--for the whole episode involving the daughter. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (46 of 46), Read 9 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 09:27 AM Candy: I realized that Melanie in his daughter's old bed was a complex and emotionally charged prospect for David, but I think you're right, it being straight sex when his daughter is a lesbian really ups the emotional ante. This paragraph, of David reflecting on his daughter's sex life, really resounded with me: Is his presence here keeping Lucy and Helen apart? Would they dare to share a bed while he was in the house? If the bed creaked in the night would they be embarrassed? Embarrassed enough to stop? But what does he know about what women do together? Maybe women do not need to make beds creak. And what does he know in particular about these two, Lucy and Helen? Perhaps they sleep together merely as children do, cuddling, touching, giggling, reliving girlhood--sisters more than lovers. Sharing a bed, sharing a bathtub, baking gingerbread cookies, trying on each other's clothes... To which I'm thinking, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd. Childhood and closeness, without the sex to keep messing things up. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (47 of 83), Read 57 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 11:47 AM I agree that not too much should be made of the Melanie thing other than for us to really understand where this guys head is...the Lucy bed thing is an arrow the Melanie thing is an arrow...(he had forgot that the Melanies have dad, just like him)and even that Melanie and his daughter are only a couple years apart in age. (this is all on a side note, I am digging this story partly because of personal memories of my dad staying with me one time for a few weeks. It is something he NEVER would normally have done and was after one of his marriages was over . My daughter and I were staying with a good friend with AIDS in a big warehouse and my dad came and stayed while he was figuring out what he was going to do and he was working in our city-it now so many years later seems utterly unbelievable that my dad was so open to do this situation, he was a real trooper, I dont know if he even knew anybody gay before that, he was heartbroken when our friend died-had a soft spot for that time in the crazy artsy warehouse...then just to bore ya all some more with ME-I used to work in a vet, and guess what one of my jobs was, thats right hauling the plastic bags down to the freezer and then rearranging the contents to fit the new bags. Sometimes I thought I could feel cat and dog ghosts down there) Candy the tangent freak but digging this book, note to self, never go to south Africa... p.s. anybody remember the forum Harpers had on sex in faculty and students?
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (48 of 83), Read 58 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 12:18 PM Candy: Never fear...your tangents always brighten my day. In addition, you may have come up with the ultimate 8-word synopsis of DISGRACE: Note to self: never go to South Africa. No sh*t. Nope, I don't remember the Harper's forum on teacher/student sex. Could you refresh my memory? In the interest of full disclosure, here, I just realized that my first ex-wife, soon after ditching me and winning custody of our son, quickly rebounded by marrying one of my (male) ex-students. Lasted about 2 years. I, meanwhile, rebounded by marrying one of my (female) ex-students. Lasted 16 years. Moral? Time sure flies when you're having fun. {G} >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (49 of 83), Read 53 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 03:54 PM Dale, it was about 5 years ago, it was a pretty good discussion, but it might take a while to track it down at a library... Its weird to me how this book ties into themes in Women In Love to me about dissolution, and letting go, I would think in some ways for love and peace to be more practical and possible when there is a dissolution. For anyone trying to understand Lucy, I think you have to see that she understands people in a very accepting way, she really has accepted the ways of South Africa.(of culture and tribes for lack of a different way to say it, sorry, for the way the world really works) To live in a kind of peace she has to accept the terms of peace that are defined by her neighbours. I mean I dont see why right from the start she didnt live with a gun 24-7, and her little dog too! Her father was completely ineffectual and lived in an academic haze. This shows how utterly impotent academia and intellectualism are in the real workings of the world. For all his study of poetry, he was like the scientist who brings his own conclusions to the experiment therefore blinding himself from observing. He seemed to miss al the poetry of his life...I am very happy he went to look after the dogs...I mean he was starting to understand the world and see that you cant force it, force the rules. Uh I the only part I didnt get was the whole gun thig, why not spend the money on the farm/land to make it 'safe' a bigfence, guns, her dad offered her the money. But really she has optedfor a more real existence. If her dad was not to protect her and live with her, then she had a new dad, Petrus. These people had a community, an understanding. David would probably take a long time to 'get this' as his life had been all about destroying or ignoring or opting out of community-except for this idea of a cold, mute, materialistic(hee hee cant resist the WIL terms) world of community that a university functions under. No wonder there is this lust between 'enemies'(the teachers and students) the training of kids to be cold, mute, materialistic. I dont mean to be too hard on David, because he made me laugh and this is a happy story really...he is so closer to living. How come he doesnt see he is in a tribe agreement with the Shaws? Whats so different between that and Petrus. I mean, I have to just laugh at this studier of poetry that has no EYE for poetry at all. His daughter could have a real choice of getting a farm somewhere like where her family long ago came from, its clear its more than the land she wants...she wants this community! where Petrus is the leader or father whatever he is. Its not even that weird to me that she keeps the baby, its that its so radical and politically incorrect to have this lesbian decide to give in to this world of men and old rules of community. It is wild how he lived for such a long time immune to the violence of living. All of a sudden NOW he sees what life really is, its not an ivory tower of academia(hey has any one ever read Fowles Poor Koko? about the academic who has all his book burned by a robber?). It was a freak show that he lived for 50 years without the shit hitting the fan and the real world grabbing him, nature grabbing him, his whole life was a walk in the park...Lucy just learned nature in her twenties, he in his fifties. I think they are both totally cool people, is it possible to imagine them actually enjoying them selves and Petrus' family in the future? Having fun even? Being a family? Me? Im a chicken Id be on the next plane...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (50 of 83), Read 51 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 08:39 PM Jeeze, BJ, I'd follow any man home if he promised me anchovies on pasta. Ruth
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (51 of 83), Read 49 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 08:44 PM You really eat those little hairy fish, Ruth? Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (52 of 83), Read 50 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 09:22 PM On pasta, on pizza, on a good hunk of crusty bread drizzled with a little lemon, straight outta the can while standing in the kitchen... I was much more uncomfortable with Lurie's sexual relationship with Bev. He looked down on her, he didn't find her sexually attractive, he was uncomfortable with many of her passionate beliefs, he didn't even bother to give her any anchovies. Ruth
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (53 of 83), Read 51 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 09:53 PM My God, Ruth, you quibble over the man's one, decent gesture? The Chilbained Lawyer
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (54 of 83), Read 48 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 10:44 PM So what was his decent gesture? The anchovies or the blanket on the clinic floor? I vote for the anchovies. Poor Bea. She may have been a bit of a nut, but she deserved better. Ruth
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (55 of 83), Read 48 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 07:00 AM Ruthie, earlier you posed this question: Which is why I think there's a real parallel going on here. One which we're supposed to ponder on. David doesn't quite rape Melanie, it gets reported, he suffers consequences. The men rape Lucy, she doesn't report it, they don't suffer consequences. So what gives? I thought that was a great question at the time and should have said so. I am saying that now. It is not simply a coincidence that the story of Lucy is preceded by the episode of David and Melanie. There are undoubtedly multiple facets to the answer to this question. Part of what is going on, I think, is that we move from a more refined--perhaps overly refined--civilized world of academia to a world where civilization (for lack of a better term) does not have much of a grip at all. While I understand Coetzee was an opponent of apartheid, he clearly is making some statement here about a post-apartheid South Africa that has slipped into a kind of anarchy outside the few big urban centers. Civilization's writ does not really extend into these places. If one chooses to live there, one must accept that, as Lucy obviously has. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (56 of 83), Read 50 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 07:02 AM I don't like David's attitude toward Bev at all. Immediately after their first sexual encounter he thinks: "Let me not forget this day...this is what I will have to get used to, this and even less than this." He feels he is doing his duty "so that in the end Bev Shaw can feel pleased with herself". What is this? His attempt at chivalry? Oh please... Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (57 of 83), Read 50 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 07:21 AM Geez, Beej, I thought this was a sign of great development in his character. He's finally growing up. And yes, it is a form of chivalry. You are a hard woman! Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (58 of 83), Read 52 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 07:33 AM Ruthie, the other thing that is going on here, I think, is this. Lucy has attached herself to the land. However, this is Africa. Therefore, she is going to be assimilated by Africa, forcefully if necessary. What greater assimilation than the rape and this resulting child? While I am not demeaning the trauma of this for Lucy, it is a bargain she is quite willing to strike. David is incapable of understanding this, and hence her impatience with him. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (59 of 83), Read 53 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 07:49 AM Steve, I agree totally with you. This(half African) baby will definitely ease the way for Lucy to become accepted into this "society". She realizes this, and though it takes almost the entire length of the pregnancy, David finally realizes it also. He says: "It will be, after all, a child of this earth. They will not be able to deny that." And to me, the operative word here, is THEY... Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (60 of 83), Read 52 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 07:52 AM Yes, you're quite right. He does come to accept this. You're quite right to correct me on this. And so, finally, David develops a little grace--arising out of a disgrace. (Jesus, I feel florid this morning!) Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (61 of 83), Read 46 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 11:11 AM Steve, the more I think about it, the more I see what you are saying in regards to David's affair with Bev. He may think he's performing a duty, but at least he's thinking of the woman's needs instead of just his own. Okay, I concede (somewhat) on this point. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (62 of 83), Read 43 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Mary Anne Papale (mapreads@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 07:05 PM I, like Ruth, am still bothered by the sex with Bev. In this book, sexual encounters appear to be the decoys for real relationships. These encounters with Bev may seem like David finally getting decent. But coming as they do after a day of killing and bagging unwanted dogs, I don't believe things are as they appear. Coetzee goes to great lengths to make Bev have this strange occupation. Which, of the many disgraces in this book, is the one referenced in the title? Metaphors be with you... MAP
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (63 of 83), Read 38 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 11:08 PM All day I was thinking about this book, I think its up in my top faves of the past year right behind Plainsong.(I love making lists!) Uh, the dogs are not an act of disgrace, its not pretty to hear about it I agree but they are helping the dogs in many ways, giving them a a different end to a life that is nothing how people treat dogs here. Be careful not to be too sentimental about their 'life'. Its not as pets. There isnt any pretty way to perform their euthanasia. Sorry. I liked it that David was hooked up with Bev, I found it kind of cute. I mean this guy was so critical, he was the height of academic snobbery on so many things, his music, his wine, he used the word hefty at least a couple of times to describe women. He was pretty judgemental. I dont think he was plugging his nose when he was with Bev, I think he was attracted to her in a new way that he felt he had to compare to his past affairs. I didnt think he sounded too sexy in his sex with Melanie, ugh the cheesy music and wine PUHLEESE, she was a kid, it was almost embarrassing him being such a geezer with a hot chick! He could have at least played jazz(hee hee that was for you Steve). Uh I also didnt see Petrus life and structure as anarchy. I thought it seemed like a pretty tight situation, do you think any old guy is gonna be making passes at his offspring in the future? I doubt it...they would know better because it is a community. Maybe not like Englands or the States or Canada, but a structure and community all the same. I think she made a smart decision to choose a way of living that was safer than ours. We arent that safe from rape here in North America as she was going to be for the rest of her life, she'll probably be able to walk home at night. Man this is such a mind boggler of a book to me, not at all the ending I could have anticipated...really wild.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (64 of 83), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Friday, September 15, 2000 06:25 AM I don't think we can be too hard on him for using the word "hefty," which really is a polite word. However, Minx, he was anything but sexy in his dealings with Melanie. You are quite right, and David knows it, too. The most difficult chapter for me--difficult to handle--is Nineteen wherein he goes to visit the Isaacs family. He explains to Mr. Isaacs that he failed to supply the "lyrical" in his relations with Melanie. (As if this Isaacs would understand what he is saying!) Wow, was it ever painful for some reason to read of him kneeling and placing his forehead on the floor in front of Mrs. Isaacs and Desirée! MAP continues to be troubled by the deal with Bev. While he certainly seems to see himself supplying some passion for her in her life, he repeatedly alludes to the fact that he himself has no passion any more. He brings nothing lyrical to that either. In fact this is the very reason, I think, that he cannot successfully finish the chamber opera. ("Even when I burn, I don't sing. . .") MAP, I am still at a loss with regard to this business of putting the dogs down. However, I sense that it does not have as grim an effect upon me as it does you. There is something gentle and touching about it. When he carries the three-legged dog in to be disposed of before its time. . . .well, I need to consider that more. However, he would have been well advised, I think, to scrap the chamber opera about Byron and do a chamber opera about putting dogs down. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (65 of 83), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, September 15, 2000 07:04 AM This book has I think. a dual theme.One is the story of David and Lucy..the human story. But I think Coetzee is running an entirely separate them here, and that is the treatment of animals, and the disgrace, if you will, of an indifference, a hardheartedness toward an animal whose fate has been negatively sealed. David has a hard time dealing with Petrus' sheep, which are about to be slaughtered for the party. They are tethered and unfed. David takes them to graze. The dogs Bev puts down, have been neglected until it is too late too save them. She knows their owners will slaughter them in a way that will not be very humane. Both of these people express a kindness toward these animals, to allow them to die with less suffering. Coetzee may be using this animal theme as another way to show the cultural differences. But somehow I think it has a deeper purpose. I think perhaps it shows another aspect of the South Africans' basic nature to disregard empathy if that empathy interferes with survival. They do not consider the suffering inflicted. Neither with the treatment of animals nor the raping of an innocent woman . Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (66 of 83), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, September 15, 2000 12:01 PM In skimming through this novel, I suddenly see a re-use of the word "obligation". As I apply this to various happenings throughout, I tend to think David's problems in regards to almost every aspect of his life with the exception of Lucy, come from an unwillingness to go beyond only what is obligatory, such as in the case with the investigating committee. But then he meets Bev. And he goes beyond obligation. He considers her feelings. He takes the bodies of the dogs to the incinerator himself.He feeds Petrus' goats. And at 52, he begins to develop not only passion but beyond that and into compassion.And prior to this was he not more like the South Africans who only dealt with survival? Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (67 of 83), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Friday, September 15, 2000 12:21 PM Beej: "Obligation"! Yes. What a dark, and recurring, mirror that concept is throughout this book. I would also point out that both David and Lucy are, in genetic temperament, what modern-day psychologists would call "strong-willed," and what my family, during my growing-up years, called "hard-headed." A quality that can achieve either glorious or tragic results, or both. Small wonder that this shared genetic trait would lead father and daughter, via wildly divergent circumstances, to become virtually incomprehensible to one another at some point. I well recall the time, many years ago, when a friend told me he'd often heard the maxim "The world belongs to the single-minded," but never grasped the full impact until his pre-teen daughter decided she WOULD become a concert pianist, and nothing could stand in her way. The world may belong to the single-minded, but so do many various hells, I think. And speaking of David's latter awakenings toward Bev, the dogs, and more, and the previous detail in which Coetzee writes that the society's "old" language is virtually useless in its turbulent new incarnation, I don't think it's any accident that the novel's title contains in it one of the most beautiful words in any language: "grace." >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (68 of 83), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, September 15, 2000 12:32 PM Dale! Listen to this and tell me what your reaction is...I just looked up the meaning of disgrace in the dictionary, just to see all the implications of that word, and decided to look up "dis"...and found another definition out of the norm: "dis- a prefix meaning twice, double." So possibly Coetzee has a bit of a double entendre here. disgrace as a dishonor and disgrace as a doubling of grace..Interesting, isn't it? Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (69 of 83), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Friday, September 15, 2000 12:42 PM Beej: Wow! Fireworks in my muddled brain, here. What a brilliance of the language, that the same prefix could mean either a dishonor or a doubling of grace. Makes me think all these folks nowadays saying "Hey, don't diss me..." should consider all the implications. {G} As to another thread here, on "sustaining," I'm suddenly reminded that one of my most sustaining CDs is "Journey of Dreams," by the wonderful a cappella African folk group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who are joined by Paul Simon, on the final cut, to sing "Amazing Grace." Life doesn't get much better than listening to that one. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (70 of 83), Read 30 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Friday, September 15, 2000 04:07 PM Folks ~~ I'm catching up on posts (it's been a busy week); herewith some fairly random observations on your comments so far: Beej: I agree entirely with you on the committee scene, a short but very powerful segment of the story. There are people like those in every institution/workplace. I'm sure we all have our own little list... More power to David for flipping them a mental finger. >>I really thought most men would have no clue as to why Lucy did not wish to report the rape.<< I still don't, and believe me, I've tried. Don't wanna get too soapboxish, but when I read something like this (i.e. Lucy's stance) I just have to shake my head in puzzlement. It's almost as though there should be justice for rape victims without the crime being reported. (Hope that last sentence doesn't come across as offensive; it's not intended to be.) >>I do have a real problem seeing David's attraction to Melanie. I can understand a sexual attraction toward her, but not the emotional attraction.<< Having let the dust settle a bit, I do see an emotional attraction bubbling under the surface. Dare we go out on a limb and suggest that David had found "love" (however you choose to define that word), but was up against the unwritten "rule" of society which says that men don't get involved with women 30 years their junior? The more I think about this episode, the sorrier I become for David. Really. Echoes here of Meursault and his position vis-à-vis society's norms / expectations. >>When that door shut (and my oh my wasn't it sudden) I can really see a cause for anger.<< Sherry: Not just (or so much) anger, but also great sadness. I think that's what drove him to visit Melanie's family later on. Steve & Sherry: David's ability to seduce - I'm starting to feel that, with the Melanie episode, he had realised that life is not all about notches on the bedpost. As I said above, I have this gut feeling that he realised that there was more there than he had at first perhaps thought / expected, and, having found it, arbitrary rules and regulations took it away from him. Just a thought. >>clearly he is talking about his life. Not for a second is he contemplating some real partnership with this little gal.<< Steve: Disagree! q.v. Maybe for the first couple of tumbles, but... Enough for one post!! More later (unless anyone flays me). I do agree - it is one ace of a book. Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (71 of 83), Read 30 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Friday, September 15, 2000 10:25 PM The dogs, wow, I'm surprised that this is well, you've made some good points here, all, about what does it mean. I want to be very careful to not say that some of the people in South Africa are just thinking about survival and therefore they aren't caring about the dogs. For one thing a lot of other cultures are not into dogs/cats/pets like we are in North America. I think the act with the dogs has to do with peoples potential for stewardship. In Canada we have a lot of political issues with First Nations(aboriginals)..and what they do with the land that is returned to them form the government etc. To me the care for the dogs is an extended kind of responsibility from first Africa ending apartheid. The white rule returning to majority rule and then perhaps the whites practicing a kind of stewardship with the domestic animals like dogs that are very European kind of concept. I dont know if Im making sense here, I dont know how to explain what Im thinking of with this and the dogs but there is a gist. I think the euthanasia and the extreme and perhaps harsh descriptions may be distracting form the actual care or kindness/mercy Bev is trying to practice. There is nothing different occurring with the dogs euthanasia there with Bev than what occurs here in North America. I think thats important to consider in their behaviour. Oh man, I have been helping a friend at their book store and have been selling this book left right and centre!!! I am so blown away by this book.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (72 of 83), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Saturday, September 16, 2000 07:03 AM Ian, I have come off my hard stance concerning David's intentions with Melanie. Your disagreement is apt. Chapter Nineteen deals with what for me was David's heartrending visit to the Isaacs' household. (I mentioned the impact of this chapter before.) There David speaks to Melanie's father on this very subject: . . . .It could have turned out differently, I believe, between to the two of us, despite our ages. But there was something I failed to supply, something'--he hunts for the word--'lyrical. . . . I believe now as you do. This thing with Melanie started out as one thing--that which I described earlier--and turned into another thing--this. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (73 of 83), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Saturday, September 16, 2000 07:07 AM Candy, this dog thing in Disgrace is really starting to fascinate me, as I gather it is fascinating you. I have always felt that the ending of The English Patient is the greatest ending in any contemporary novel I have read. However, this thing with the three-legged dog in Disgrace may rival that one. Now all I need to do is sort it out, and I am sure I will with the able assistance of present company. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (74 of 83), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Saturday, September 16, 2000 03:41 PM >>. . . .It could have turned out differently, I believe, between to the two of us, despite our ages. But there was something I failed to supply, something'--he hunts for the word--'lyrical. . . . Steve ~~ A good and apposite quote. When I read the book, I wondered what sort of palooka David was for knocking on the Isaacs' door. Was he a masochist, expecting (or hoping for) a sock on the jaw as atonement for his 'indiscretions'? But now that a couple of months have elapsed since reading it, I find it keeps buzzing around in my head, and my mind is taken up by what David (perhaps) realised was really going on emotionally. As a colleague at work once remarked many years ago re a similar situation where an older man he knew had become besotted by a much younger woman (there was nothing sexual involved): "Getting older doesn't stop those felings; it just makes them so much harder to deal with." If ever a true word was spoken... Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (75 of 83), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Saturday, September 16, 2000 03:49 PM Ian: You get enough older, you deal with them by just laying down for a nap. The Chilbained Lawyer
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (76 of 83), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Saturday, September 16, 2000 11:30 PM Yeah, well I think Ill go read that ending again... Um, are you all, Ian and Steve saying that David was feeling in love with Melanie and thats why he went to the Isaacs house? That was a very uncomfortable scratchy part of the book to me...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (77 of 83), Read 20 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000 01:11 PM Candy ~~ Don't know about David being in love, but I think he wanted to convey to the Isaacses (what a plural!) that he had come to realise that he felt something for their daughter, as the quote which Steve posted indicates. Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (78 of 83), Read 19 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000 01:19 PM While much is made of the relationship between David and Melanie, and the effect he has on her, what about the relationship between her boyfriend and her? The b.f.'s fleeting appearances portray him as a shadowy, Svengali-type figure and, in his last encounter with Lurie, a downright unpleasant sort. I just wonder if her (longer-term, one assumes) relationship with him was doing her more harm than her brief relationship with Lurie. Whether aye or no, it is ironic that there are no statutes to cover relationships between students and their peers!! Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (79 of 83), Read 19 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000 01:22 PM WHAT I WANT TO KNOW... How many members of that committee were squeaky clean!? Oh boy, would I love to dig up some dirt on them, especially Dr Farodia Rassool (if I hadn't put my fist through her arrogant puss already...) Right, I'm off to calm down now. Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (80 of 83), Read 18 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000 01:37 PM Just found the passage I was looking for re Melanie's boyfriend for my earlier post on him. It's in ch.4, p.30, of my copy (Vintage p/b): "He is tall and wiry; he has a thin goatee and an ear-ring; he wears a black leather jacket and black leather trousers. He looks older than most students; he looks like trouble." Note that second-last clause. We're not told how much older, but could it be that Melanie is drawn to the older man? Alas, we can only speculate. And, as I said before, there are no statutes concerning relationships between older non-staff and students. David's only 'crime' (I don't want to use that word, but you know what I mean) is not who he is, but what he is. A follow-up to the boyfriend's appearance is of relevance (p.31): "...his (Lurie's) car, parked in the street, is vandalized. The tyres are deflated, glue is injected into the doorlocks, newspaper is pasted over the windscreen, the paintwork is scratched." Revenge? Sure, but also indicative of a type of mentality. Not everyone would have reacted in such a manner. Nope, there is something about that boyfriend that I don't like. For want of a better phrase, bad blood. Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (81 of 83), Read 22 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000 01:23 PM Amen, Ian. Clearly, when Melanie came to David's place to stay the night, it was because she was having big time trouble with that boyfriend and had nowhere else to go, even though that was not stated explicitly. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (82 of 83), Read 22 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000 01:32 PM As for the committee, Ian, easy does it. I suspect that they were all squeaky clean. The worst people, in the sense of the most implacably judgmental, usually have never gotten out of the house themselves and therefore have no feel whatsoever for human frailty. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (83 of 83), Read 18 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000 01:31 PM ha, Ian that's funny. About the dog, I think the dog is David accepting his mortality and the power of nature and environment over the power of intellectualism or else its merging with intellect and nature. The dog will never know in a month of Sundays that that room is for its ending..."It will be beyond him, this room that is not a room but a hole where one leaks out of existence." He is also thinking of the world, of life and the 'room' of nature where we all know it is beyond us, no matter how much we learn, we don't know what death is. 'where one leaks out of existence' is also a reminder of the body, its frailty and its final release of well, body fluids when they leak out of us at death...(sorry for being gross, but I think that was writers intent with that reference). David is really in tune now with some of the ways that life works...he is giving up the dog, giving up is a kind of grace, not fighting how the world of nature works and our responsibilities as I said earlier he accepts the stewardship that humans are able to choose to a degree in life with nature and animals. I hope that's the same dog anybody meant, there were so many dog references...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (84 of 86), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Mary Anne Papale (mapreads@aol.com) Date: Monday, September 18, 2000 12:14 PM You're right, Candy, that there are so many dog references. I am not at all disturbed by the euthanasia references. But I certainly do find it of interest that Coetzee has chosen to have these particular moments turn into David having sex with Bev. Surely the combination is no accident. Beej, I love your comments on survival. They ring true. Metaphors be with you... MAP
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (85 of 86), Read 22 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2000 03:37 PM I keep forgetting to mention something here. The initial episodes in the book remind me very much of a play by David Mamet called Oleanna. Has anyone else seen it? The play is a two-act, two-person one and a fascinating study of the ambiguities of this faculty and student issue. I don't want to belabor that all here, but see the play if you ever have a chance. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (86 of 86), Read 9 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 07:43 AM I finished this last night. The book works on two levels for me: one, the personal story of the characters; and two: the disgrace experienced by white South Africans in their post apartheid culture. Disgrace is something white South Africans have been experiencing, on an international scale, for decades, and I think the theme resonates powerfully for them. I kept seeing the story line as a national metaphor, as well as an engrossing tale which holds up on its own. To me, the Isaacs family represents American or international judgement: proper, moralistic, holier-than-thou, with a you're on your own attitude, smugly observing the painful consequences of sin with a don't expect me to intervene stance. Hateful to the sufferer. David's plight is about finding a way to live with dignity in disgrace as well as finding hope and meaning in the face of increasingly grim circumstances, much like white South Africa as a whole. I also wondered what the hell David was doing visiting the Isaacs, but now it makes sense. Along with expressing to Melanie's father that he had real feelings for her, I think he also wanted to present himself as just a human being, not some monster. And what must he do to express remorse and apology? How far does he need to go? His gesture before Mrs. Isaacs and Desiree is very theatrical, oddly both too much and not enough. All of this resonates on a national level as well. It makes senses to me that David identifies with the discarded dogs left to die. He feels quite discarded, too. There is a striking similarity here with (check this out, Candy!) the ending of Cormac McCarthy's THE CROSSING where Billy Parham finally identifies with a maimed, discarded dog. It's like David is trying to find a way to ease the dissolution of his life, the senselessness and sorrow of his rejected state, though compassionate care of the dogs. Robt
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (87 of 98), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 09:13 AM Oh Robert you get me every time. You know what else, what about COTP!!!Duh whats wrong with me but the dog killing scene in there! egads. You have made such a good point about the disgrace factor of the Dutch white south Africans.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (88 of 98), Read 38 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 11:15 AM This thing concerning the three legged dog is symbolism of much more, to me. First of all, Coetzee writes: "Bearing him in his arms like a lamb, he re-enters the surgery." This alone says a lot to me. In the Bible there is much reference to the sacrificial lamb. it is an offering of atonement, and I'm toying with the idea that Coetzee is using the three legged dog as a symbol of David's new willingness to sacrifice his emotional crippledness. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (89 of 98), Read 37 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 11:22 AM I don't mean to hog the floor, but I just read this in here: " He(David) has learned by now, from her, to concentrate on the animal they are killing, giving it what he no longer has difficulty in calling by its proper name:love." I read this and , you know, that's exactly what was missing from this man. The emotional lack went further than passion. Maybe this man has simply learned how to love again. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (90 of 98), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 11:27 AM I finally finished up DISGRACE last night and the power of the closing sections has left me speechless. What a beautiful piece of work. I can't remember a novel this emotionally draining since CORELLI'S MANDOLIN. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (91 of 98), Read 30 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 11:33 AM Dale, I felt like throwing this book against the wall when I finished reading it. Doesn't "bearing him in his arms like a lamb" conjure up a mental picture of a good shepherd? it does for me. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (92 of 98), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 01:32 PM Now we're starting to get to the bottom of this business with the dogs! Absolutely great, Robert! Absolutely great, Beej! Ain't they great, Dale? I'm serious. I think Robert cogently addresses the issue of the dogs generally. Beej has gone some way toward helping me get a grip specifically on the three-legged dog, and most particularly why David may have carried him in to be put down before his time. There is indeed a sacrificial aspect to that, I think. I'm tellin' ya. There are wheels within wheels with this dog thing. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (93 of 98), Read 27 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 02:01 PM Steve: Great comments, indeed. I still can't get over the unlikely, but miraculous, scenes when he calls on the Isaacses. I literally felt as if I were there in the room with them. Lord, have mercy. As to the ending...a pessimist such as myself could interpret David's final lifting of the three-legged dog as surrendering and accepting the inevitable--in his life, as well as "Life"--i.e., giving up the good fight once and for all. But just moments before, we're told that he at last realizes what Bev has been saying about loving the animals in their last moments of life. Love? Acceptance? Sacrifice? All interwoven, I think, and no doubt much more that I'll be pondering for quite a while. Wheels within wheels, for sure. I remember a discussion we had years ago here on dying, particularly Dylan Thomas's great imperative, "Rage, rage against the dying of the light!" To which one Lynn Evans replied (a line which will forever live in my memory) to the effect that raging against the darkness is all well and good within reason, but it's quite a different matter to go into the great beyond "acting like some yahoo." Such a delicate balance, there. I don't see any way that even somebody of Coetzee's gifts could write an encore to this one. But if he did, what do you see David doing 10 years from now, if he's still around at all? Lucy, I have no doubt, will thrive, being the D Village equivalent of a soccer mom. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (94 of 98), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 02:10 PM Dale, I see the sacrificing of the three legged dog as not giving up the "good" fight, but more as giving up the "bad" fight. To me he is sacrificing his incompleteness, perhaps also before his time. I think he bonded with his own emotional inadequacies, and is finally breaking out of that cycle, due to not only Bev, but also the about to be born grandchild. He is also going to be affected by the birth of this child who is a product of rape, and he had better learn to let his love for this child overcome his bitterness over all else, including the culture that did this to his daughter. If he doesn't he is going to lose Lucy also. And then he will truly have nothing. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (95 of 98), Read 20 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 08:48 PM This is all interesting stuff...um why sacrifice? I see it as a mirror or cousin to acceptance, like some like Beej you say that he has learned to love, love through mercy and forgiveness? By his actions he showing accountability for maybe Bev and he share a history as the low end of the shift of power? They could be angry but they accept their stewardship and the history of so called 'domestication' (dogs)of Africa. Its almost like they are cleaning up their mess. Uh I realize these are animals, and I dont mean that in such a harsh way....but its too big for him to keep every dog, he has to let the dog go...or 'save' them all as pets. I see them all having a grand time in 10 years Dale, I mean what is so bad about their lives right at the end there is a lot to look forward to... This book makes me think of so many things and here in Canada I think of our legal attempts to return land to aboriginals...and how to turn the page and /or move ona and be responsible and peaceful and make a kind of atonement.......
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (96 of 98), Read 21 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 09:04 PM Candy, to me sacrifice is a surrender of something important in hopes of obtaining something even more important. David's self imposed emotional isolation, in my opinion, had become comfortable for him, but i think he was now willing to come out of that comfort zone in order to achieve something greater..love perhaps? Closeness? I don't know. But that's what I meant by sacrifice. He was sacrificing his crippled emotions just as he sacrificed the crippled dog. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (97 of 98), Read 19 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 09:31 PM Oh okay Beej I was taking it as lambs and sacrifice ala The Bible, which also could make sense to me, thats what I thought you were saying, sorry about that. Yeah, I agree with what you said, about the new way and giving up of something of himself...which could work with history and grudges ingeneral in the world, and Africa in 'Disgrace'...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (98 of 98), Read 21 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 09:34 PM Sorry, Candy....I didn't make that very clear, did I? Its just that when Coetzee spoke of carrying lambs, I thought of "sacrifice" immediately. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (89 of 110), Read 64 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 11:22 AM I don't mean to hog the floor, but I just read this in here: " He(David) has learned by now, from her, to concentrate on the animal they are killing, giving it what he no longer has difficulty in calling by its proper name:love." I read this and , you know, that's exactly what was missing from this man. The emotional lack went further than passion. Maybe this man has simply learned how to love again. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (90 of 110), Read 62 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 11:27 AM I finally finished up DISGRACE last night and the power of the closing sections has left me speechless. What a beautiful piece of work. I can't remember a novel this emotionally draining since CORELLI'S MANDOLIN. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (91 of 110), Read 57 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 11:33 AM Dale, I felt like throwing this book against the wall when I finished reading it. Doesn't "bearing him in his arms like a lamb" conjure up a mental picture of a good shepherd? it does for me. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (92 of 110), Read 55 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 01:32 PM Now we're starting to get to the bottom of this business with the dogs! Absolutely great, Robert! Absolutely great, Beej! Ain't they great, Dale? I'm serious. I think Robert cogently addresses the issue of the dogs generally. Beej has gone some way toward helping me get a grip specifically on the three-legged dog, and most particularly why David may have carried him in to be put down before his time. There is indeed a sacrificial aspect to that, I think. I'm tellin' ya. There are wheels within wheels with this dog thing. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (93 of 110), Read 54 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 02:01 PM Steve: Great comments, indeed. I still can't get over the unlikely, but miraculous, scenes when he calls on the Isaacses. I literally felt as if I were there in the room with them. Lord, have mercy. As to the ending...a pessimist such as myself could interpret David's final lifting of the three-legged dog as surrendering and accepting the inevitable--in his life, as well as "Life"--i.e., giving up the good fight once and for all. But just moments before, we're told that he at last realizes what Bev has been saying about loving the animals in their last moments of life. Love? Acceptance? Sacrifice? All interwoven, I think, and no doubt much more that I'll be pondering for quite a while. Wheels within wheels, for sure. I remember a discussion we had years ago here on dying, particularly Dylan Thomas's great imperative, "Rage, rage against the dying of the light!" To which one Lynn Evans replied (a line which will forever live in my memory) to the effect that raging against the darkness is all well and good within reason, but it's quite a different matter to go into the great beyond "acting like some yahoo." Such a delicate balance, there. I don't see any way that even somebody of Coetzee's gifts could write an encore to this one. But if he did, what do you see David doing 10 years from now, if he's still around at all? Lucy, I have no doubt, will thrive, being the D Village equivalent of a soccer mom. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (94 of 110), Read 53 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 02:10 PM Dale, I see the sacrificing of the three legged dog as not giving up the "good" fight, but more as giving up the "bad" fight. To me he is sacrificing his incompleteness, perhaps also before his time. I think he bonded with his own emotional inadequacies, and is finally breaking out of that cycle, due to not only Bev, but also the about to be born grandchild. He is also going to be affected by the birth of this child who is a product of rape, and he had better learn to let his love for this child overcome his bitterness over all else, including the culture that did this to his daughter. If he doesn't he is going to lose Lucy also. And then he will truly have nothing. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (95 of 110), Read 47 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 08:48 PM This is all interesting stuff...um why sacrifice? I see it as a mirror or cousin to acceptance, like some like Beej you say that he has learned to love, love through mercy and forgiveness? By his actions he showing accountability for maybe Bev and he share a history as the low end of the shift of power? They could be angry but they accept their stewardship and the history of so called 'domestication' (dogs)of Africa. Its almost like they are cleaning up their mess. Uh I realize these are animals, and I dont mean that in such a harsh way....but its too big for him to keep every dog, he has to let the dog go...or 'save' them all as pets. I see them all having a grand time in 10 years Dale, I mean what is so bad about their lives right at the end there is a lot to look forward to... This book makes me think of so many things and here in Canada I think of our legal attempts to return land to aboriginals...and how to turn the page and /or move ona and be responsible and peaceful and make a kind of atonement.......
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (96 of 110), Read 48 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 09:04 PM Candy, to me sacrifice is a surrender of something important in hopes of obtaining something even more important. David's self imposed emotional isolation, in my opinion, had become comfortable for him, but i think he was now willing to come out of that comfort zone in order to achieve something greater..love perhaps? Closeness? I don't know. But that's what I meant by sacrifice. He was sacrificing his crippled emotions just as he sacrificed the crippled dog. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (97 of 110), Read 46 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 09:31 PM Oh okay Beej I was taking it as lambs and sacrifice ala The Bible, which also could make sense to me, thats what I thought you were saying, sorry about that. Yeah, I agree with what you said, about the new way and giving up of something of himself...which could work with history and grudges ingeneral in the world, and Africa in 'Disgrace'...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (98 of 110), Read 48 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 09:34 PM Sorry, Candy....I didn't make that very clear, did I? Its just that when Coetzee spoke of carrying lambs, I thought of "sacrifice" immediately. Beej
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (99 of 110), Read 27 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 01:53 AM Hi Everyone, I'm at Chapter 18 of the book and about 3/4 of the way through the 98 posts here. I didn't want to read the ending from you first. I'm finding that I can only read a few chapters of the book at a time because there's a lot to think about and because it's somewhat depressing to me. Not that I don't like it! :) I identify more with David or perhaps see him as 'the' main character because (at as far as I've read) he seems to be a more defined character. Lucy seems to me to be one of the many women in his life and as many of you've said, "journey". I saw David as a predator at the beginning of the book and less so as it went on as he had to deal with the mundane daily things of work on the farm. Quite a contrast to his literary life in the university. On page 22 he's thinking about Melanie and says this, "Yet we cannot live our daily lives in a realm of pure ideas, cocooned from sense-experience." (I'm sure he was thinking of sexual type stuff but it has farther implications. Like most of what's happening in the book.) He seemed to become more 'real' as the book progressed. Mary Anne, >Which, of the many disgraces in this book, is the one referenced in the title? Did someone answer this? I didn't see it. I marked references to the word disgrace as it was being used by the characters as I went along. p. 85 when meeting Bev Shaw he replies to her question, "Not just in trouble. In what I suppose one would call disgrace." p. 115 when Lucy doesn't want to go to the market. "She would rather hide her face, and he knows why. Because of the disgrace." I agree that there are many types of disgrace in the book but the two central ones revolve around the two main characters and their two main disgraces. (Though I think David feeling that he didn't protect Lucy is tied strongly to his other senses of disgrace.) Steve, >While I understand Coetzee was an opponent of apartheid, he clearly is making some statement here about a post-apartheid South Africa that has slipped into a kind of anarchy outside the few big urban centers. Civilization's writ does not really extend into these places. If one chooses to live there, one must accept that, as Lucy obviously has. < I found the part (starting at the bottom of p.116 about David pondering the role Petrus had to play in their attack and how he can no longer deal with him in the old way to be highly significant. I have to say that I didn't really know what race/relationship a lot of these characters had as the book progressed until I got to this part. David and Lucy not trusting the police confused me. Beej, >I don't like David's attitude toward Bev at all. Immediately after their first sexual encounter he thinks: "Let me not forget this day...this is what I will have to get used to, this and even less than this."<< What bothered me even more was when he said to himself, "if she is poor, he is bankrupt." Is it self-loathing because of his disgrace? Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (100 of 110), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 03:26 AM The Dogs: Did you all discuss the slaughtering of the dogs during the attack? I felt this was the turning point of the book. I wondered at the time *why* they were killed. There wasn't really any point to that part of the attack. Then later when David was questioning Petrus, Petrus says he's no DOG-MAN anymore. (So, did Petrus make sure this was part of the attack so he could assert himself and build his homestead, etc?) I saw the dogs as symbolism throughout. (This isn't to say that I wasn't moved by the euthanasia. But, I also had to ask why there wasn't an animal education program going on but I know that's stupid considering what was happening with the people!) Dogs are symbolism: p. 205 "To start at ground level. With nothing...No rights, no dignity." "Like a dog." "Yes, like a dog." When I first read the last page I thought he was referring to the dog as 'she' but now rereading it I see that the dog is 'he'. "I'm giving him up." (My reading is that "he" is David.) Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (101 of 110), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 03:33 AM I have mixed feelings about the book. I have to say that I felt like I was being hit over the head with symbolism and "threads of meaning" throughout the book. There's the "fire" that he gets 'burned with' in his relationships and in the attack. (Referred to in his encounter with Mr. Isaacs and the 'lyric' aforementioned quote.) There are the dogs. There's disgrace. There's the lyric thing. Countless father and daughter refs. My mixed feeling is that in some ways I appreciate it. I see some of the intertwining of themes and appreciate the multi-levelness of it all. OTOH, it also seemed to be a bit TOO MUCH. Maybe by this I wish it was more subtle or that there was more something that he didn't give me. Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (102 of 110), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 03:39 AM Steve, >>>The most difficult chapter for me--difficult to handle--is Nineteen wherein he goes to visit the Isaacs family. He explains to Mr. Isaacs that he failed to supply the "lyrical" in his relations with Melanie. (As if this Isaacs would understand what he is saying!) I saw this and his original meeting with the committee as typical of his character. He acted without regard to the consequences. Or rather, that he didn't seem to be able to see what the consequences of his actions would lead to. To me this was also apparent at the end of the book when it's revealed that he slept with tons of women. He didn't see what it would lead to. >>Wow, was it ever painful for some reason to read of him kneeling and placing his forehead on the floor in front of Mrs. Isaacs and Desirée! That was one scene that surprised me. I wasn't sure if he'd come right out and apologize--though that seemed to be the purpose of the scene. And, his being unaware that an apology wouldn't do any good. >>I believe now as you do. This thing with Melanie started out as one thing--that which I described earlier--and turned into another thing--this. I really missed what you meant here. Robt, I agree with your analysis of the South African symbolism. Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (103 of 110), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 03:47 AM Did you all discuss the literary allusions? What did you make of his musical endeavors? I have to say that this is the part that bored me the most. It seemed out of sync tonewise with the rest of his writing. I had no trouble reading any other part of the book--it all flowed--until I got to that part where I had to force myself to concentrate. Then his pace seemed to pick up again. Anyone else feel that way? And, I forgot the most important dog reference! The one where he's asking himself if he could bring a dog into the piece he's writing. (p. 215) I don't know Byron so I'm not sure how much I missed in this section. For awhile there I thought that Teresa had become a real person to him. And, what about Lucy selling out to Petrus and having the baby? (BTW, I haven't noticed anyone posting spoiler warnings. Do you just assume that someone reading here has read the whole book?) Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (104 of 110), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 10:43 AM Hi Bo, wow, I love seeing some post so many in a row....I feel your pain! Uh first, I jumped right in and talked about the ending, I should have put spoilers you make a good point. I didn't feel he hit us over the head TOO much with his symbolism, and I usually feel overly sensitive to that kind of writing so I'm surprised after reading your posts that I didn't feel distracted by them. When I see it all in your light, it almost does seem heavy handed. The dogs, call me crazy but I thought the dogs were some aspect from colonization!!! Not from pre-colonization Africans. I don't see where Lucy lives as anarchy. I think there is a very distinct structure and culture. It's just different than white Dutch culture. I don't see Lucy as selling out to live there. I see her as accepting and respecting her new cultures practices. I see her accepting that her dad did not give her a strong family foundation(or her mum, not taking sides here) and that is a metaphor for their structure of living in general of 'the power' before apartheid. She adapts/adopts a community, a culture that may not be how she was raised but offers her safety and community and belonging and a place. Her father (and his people) have a bigger disgrace of seeing that Africa has rejected their style of making a life. The dogs are left overs of their kind of 'domestication' or 'colonization'. Bo I'm glad this discussion is still alive an dwell as I am still thinking about this book. The other day a woman came into the bookstore where I was working and she had read this for her book club and she was like 'I could relate to David, but not Lucy, it wasn't her story, and I can not see why she lived the way she did.' It is partly her story her decision was another potential disgrace for her parents(the former power of South Africa) Her choice is like a big flipping the bird to the past. just some quick thoughts Bo, enjoyed your posts! Candy
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (105 of 110), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 11:20 AM Candy -- doggone it -- between Bo's list of posts and your response -- I have to go back Saturday and get a copy of this -- I had it in hand today but due to budget set for myself as I entered the store I narrowed the four or five books down to two -- came away with Tulip Fever and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit -- left Disgrace and a Bryson and another that has slipped the bonds completely at the moment behind. Disgrace HAS to be retrieved however -- more and more of this is making me think of The Poisonwood Bible story and relate it to the misguided colonial missionary ideas in that book. Should have stuck with it today and left Oranges for later time -- hindsight! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (106 of 110), Read 24 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 07:52 PM Hi Candy, >>Hi Bo, wow, I love seeing some post so many in a row....I feel your pain! What else can one do at 3 am when finishing a powerful book like this! >Uh first, I jumped right in and talked about the ending, I should have put spoilers you make a good point. I like to talk about ideas in the book as I read it. That way, even if I look like a fool to the rest of you, I can kind of work my ideas about the book as it develops. It always helps me to think as I type. If I try to articulate to you something I can't quite figure out, I can usually at least ask the question a bit more clearly. >>The dogs, call me crazy but I thought the dogs were some aspect from colonization!!! Not from pre-colonization Africans. I guess I lost you here. I saw them as a symbol of the 'disgrace' and 'bottom of society' (whomever it is at the time). >>I don't see where Lucy lives as anarchy. I think there is a very distinct structure and culture. It's just different than white Dutch culture. I don't see Lucy as selling out to live there. I see her as accepting and respecting her new cultures practices. I see her accepting that her dad I'm not really sure what to think of Lucy. I'm not sure of her internal motivations and reasons for making her choices. Except perhaps that she didn't think through the consequences from her hippie days. There was one line that I marked which I thought summed her up. (p. 105) This is one of the earlier times when David is trying to talk her out of continuing on as usual after the attack. Her response to him is, "It was never safe, and it's not an idea, good or bad. I'm not going back for the sake of an idea. I'm just going back." I thought that was pretty profound. >>did not give her a strong family foundation(or her mum, Were there more than one or two refs to her mother near the of the book? >>may not be how she was raised but offers her safety and community and belonging and a place. Her father (and his I'm not sure I agree with you here. I'm not sure she's really going to be "safe" under Petrus' care. And, it seemed like she had to give up an awful lot to have even a measure of safety. Like I said, I don't think I ever really understood her deeper motivation. What was her connection to the land? >>like 'I could relate to David, but not Lucy, it wasn't her story, and I can not see why she lived the way she did.' I guess I've been saying that too. I saw David as the POV (point of view) character through which all the other characters were developed. And, I guess this is a good question for the group. Did you feel that Coetzee wrote sympathetic and real women characters? I know some of you related to Lucy a lot more than I did. I'm of mixed mind about this. I think Lucy is more complex than the other women characters who seem to be seen only through David's eyes (or other parts of his body. :) Perhaps like the woman at your store, I didn't feel that this was Lucy's story. If it were I would have wanted to know what happened to her during the attack. We see that only through David's eyes. (And, I'm sure most of the women here'll shoot me for even suggesting this---I have to say that part of what I wondered until near the end when David finally got her to acknowledge *some* of what went on was... I wondered if she used herself to try to protect David. I'm not saying that this wouldn't have been rape. But, her reactions didn't read like other rape situations exactly and I wondered if more was going on.) And, I'd have wanted to know about Lucy's significant relationships and how they affected her. She seemed to be a shadow of a person--partially there, partially not. >>Her choice is like a big flipping the bird to the past. OK. This makes sense to me, particularly in light of her hippie days. I didn't see it that way but it makes sense. Thanks! Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (107 of 110), Read 18 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 10:03 PM I agree with you Bo, I saw this as David's story, and I never really understood Lucy's motivations nor how she arrived at her way of thinking and living. Ruth
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (108 of 110), Read 17 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 11:07 PM Hey Ruth and Bo, well I agree it is Davids story...but I think we are offered some behavior to assess and figure out WHY Lucy chose what she did. I am sticking to the idea that she wanted community. Her family was not a foundation for her. They sounded like the typical dispersed selfish parents of a certain generation. I'm not sure Lucy was a hippie, I'm not sure what they call kids her age....isn't it generation x? She had rejected her parents life by the time we evn see where the story is set. I don't see the dogs as 'the bottom' of life or bottom dwellers. They are 'pets'. Or leftovers from pets aren't they? Does anybody know where the dogs came from? I thought the dogs were a result of irresponsible owners(hmm irresponsible parents? irresponsible role models? ie; sex with a student?) I am just throwing this out, I think the dogs are a little of what ever we all see them as but I'm not sure when I think of a dog I think of bottom dweeller. I think of pet, or lost pet, or vulnerable...in our culture as well as the Dutch in South Africa, I thought dogs were pets. I think we are shown that Lucy would be protected by Petreus and his status in his community. David not being able to protect her during attack was a reminder of his inability to be a protective or responsible force in her life in general. I think we know that from David in the novel. I sort of think that being unaccountable or irresponsible is the real disgrace in this story...demonstrated(its not symbolic, its shown) byt the dogs gone out of kilter....where are their owners or the fathers of the dogs owners etc? How did this get so out of control these over populated dogs? Now is the time for unaccountability to be accountable... ???? Don't David and Bev believe its their responsibility to 'take care of these dogs?' Its not about compassion its about being responsible no?
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (109 of 110), Read 15 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 11:20 PM I didn't get the feeling Lucy was going to get much protection from Petrus. Or if she did, it would only be because she was selling her independence. I can't imagine that her life under Petrus's thumb would be anything but giving away the farm (both literally and figuratively) inch by inch. Ruth
Topic: DISGRACE (110 of 110), Read 8 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Thursday, September 28, 2000 07:58 AM It seemed to me Lucy was allowing herself to be subsumed by the new culture out of a sense of racial obligation and guilt. She uses her very self as a sacrifice for the advantages she (and all like her) had had previously. I think she viewed the rape as the culmination of justifiable rage. She took it upon herself to be humbled by it, not enraged by it. I see her as a Christ-like figure, in that her treatment is that of a scapegoat, and her reaction is forgiveness and acceptance. Sherry
Topic: DISGRACE (111 of 117), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, September 28, 2000 10:38 AM That can explain a lot about her actions, Sherry. Much as I think it's a silly way to go, it does explain her infuriating passive acceptance. Ruth
Topic: DISGRACE (112 of 117), Read 27 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Thursday, September 28, 2000 11:00 AM Don't we all accept our cultures? sometimes passively sometimes its called 'coming of age' 'growing up'?Don't we all have to accept our'staus' most of us aren't the President or a movie star but 'working on the farm'. In the words of b Dylan, "you gotta serve somebody"
Topic: DISGRACE (113 of 117), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, September 28, 2000 11:22 AM You have a point, Candy. But to have Lucy allow herself to be subsumed to this extent bothers me. If it doesn't bother her, I guess it's okay, but it sure pushes some of my buttons. Ruth
Topic: DISGRACE (114 of 117), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Thursday, September 28, 2000 11:35 AM I can hardly wit until Saturday when I plan to pick this up -- but a reaction to this subsumption of herself which so disturbs you, Ruth -- perhaps it's meant to disturb -- colonialist subsumption of the country/culture and no matter what the 'disgrace' remains and unless there is a forgiveness and forgetfulness the conjoined culture which thereafter exists will never work -- we see this many places not just in the African continent. Take all this with the large grain of salt of my not having yet read anything except this discussion, Dottie -- wondering what she will think once she reads the book ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: DISGRACE (115 of 117), Read 23 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Lynn Isvik (washualum@yahoo.com) Date: Thursday, September 28, 2000 12:23 PM Dottie, I'm so glad I'm not the only one here reading the discussion before the book. I finally went through interlibrary loan to locate a copy out here in the literary wasteland of rural Iowa. (Now don't take that as criticism of my beloved state... just my local library!) I'm eagerly anticipating its arrival in the next day or so. Lynn (too)
Topic: DISGRACE (116 of 117), Read 24 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Thursday, September 28, 2000 12:39 PM Don't worry, Lynn, I won't misconstrue your comments about locating books -- but if you REALLY want to have fun trying to keep up try finding these things in a hurry in Hasselt, Limburg Province, Belgium. I was really quite surprised to see Disgrace in Standaard Boekhandel -- very pleasantly so -- but money being the issue I talked myself out of it and have to go back -- sigh -- no excuse really. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: DISGRACE (117 of 117), Read 19 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Thursday, September 28, 2000 04:50 PM At first I didn't understand Lucy but now she makes sense to me. Her withdrawal and depression seemed to be her way of not only dealing with being raped but also facing the stark reality of her situation in post apartheid South Africa. She loved the land and was a natural at farming and I imagine much of her internal conflict was about whether or not she could give this up and retreat to an urban area where she would be relatively safe. I don't regard her refusal to talk about the violence with David as being passive so much as her feelings were inexplicable and that she felt the dialogue would be futile given the huge difference between their generational attitudes toward race relations. I'm sure David was intellectually liberal but, I think, emotionally tied to the way he grew up. The idea of Lucy having a baby of color or being married to a black man was probably a difficult matter for him to accept in addition to the fact that the child was conceived through rape. As has been pointed out here before, I think David saw the whole thing as a defeat whereas Lucy saw it as a practical matter, a way for her to retain her rural lifestyle, to be a part of the land. I have been to South Africa twice and the countryside around Capetown is astonishingly beautiful. In fact, all of South Africa is blessed with incredible natural beauty. It was something that Lucy was not willing to lose, I think. Also, being a lesbian would influence how Lucy regarded the society that she grew up in. She would be more apt to identify with the oppressed and see herself as an outsider. Emotionally she was already distanced somewhat from her white culture that disapproved of her sexuality. I can understand why she would accept being protected by a black man if she did not have to have sex with him. Her terms were to have autonomy in her own home. There she could create her own family with another woman. She did not need to be married to her female partner. Marriage was already obsolete for her. In some ways her lesbianism made her ideal for surviving in this situation. Shooting the dogs may have carried the message: you are no longer the pet owner and we are not pets, either. Robt
Topic: DISGRACE (118 of 161), Read 69 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Friday, September 29, 2000 02:12 PM More catching up. Dang, this one will not leave me alone! >>"I also wondered what the hell David was doing visiting the Isaacs, but now it makes sense. Along with expressing to Melanie's father that he had real feelings for her, I think he also wanted to present himself as just a human being, not some monster."<< Robert ~~ It's interesting to compare David's (voluntary and, one assumes, painful) visit to the Isaacses with his summons to appear before that committee, and to compare the reactions and behaviour of those he confronts. >>I saw this as David's story, and I never really understood Lucy's motivations nor how she arrived at her way of thinking and living.<< Ruth ~~ Me neither. Try as I might, I cannot understand that gal. Oh, she wants to get away and live on the land, live simply, get back to nature, call it what you like, but, in her own way, she is abandoning a whole set of (social) "rules" and "expectations" in much the same way that her father went against the "rules" and "expectations" of his situation. And both "pay" for their transgressions. I guess underlying much of all of this is the way in which we find it so hard to understand / accept the views / feelings / emotions of others, esp. those who think / behave differently from ourselves. Society (either in general, or specifically, e.g. schools, universities, workplaces etc.) have certain expectations of behaviour. Often these expectations ignore human feeling and emotion. There is no reason on God's earth why older men should not be attracted to younger women, or younger women to older men. Ditto, no reason why someone shouldn't choose to go off and live a rural life espousing a lifestyle that is regarded by the bulk of the population as, well, "weird". Whatever else DISGRACE has done for me, it has made me examine my own views on some of the issues it throws up. What more can you ask of a book? Ian
Topic: DISGRACE (119 of 161), Read 69 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, September 29, 2000 04:24 PM Here's my take on David's visit to the Isaacs. I think it was entirely selfish. He was thinking only of what he would get out of it, how it was an act of atonement for him. Witness that weird bowing down scene. He was thinking only that if he abased himself, he'd somehow be exonerated. It apparently never crossed his mind how this visit (not to mention the kowtowing) would affect Isaacs---opening old wounds, having to deal with someone (David) who appears close to going over the edge. Ruth
Topic: DISGRACE (120 of 161), Read 70 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Friday, September 29, 2000 04:37 PM Ruth: I'd have to disagree on this particular aspect of my (admittedly very flawed) man, David. To me, he understood very early on in the visit how ill-advised it was, to such a degree that every one of my innards ached for him. Even after all of this, though, comes the weird (but for me, very convincing) scene of bowing down, which holds, even in his own mind (especially in his own mind?), no chance in hell of even the least degree of atonement. For me, this means that by his own (however-warped) lights, David is doing the best and only thing he knows under the circumstances. I am, by the way, still searching for the source of my all-time most profound quote (if none shows up by 2001 I'll file for copyright{G}), which is: The supreme tragedy of human existence is that everyone has their reasons. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: DISGRACE (121 of 161), Read 70 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, September 29, 2000 04:39 PM If he understood there was no chance in hell of atonement for him, and that his visit could do nothing but pain the Isaacs. Why in hell did he do it? Ruth
Topic: DISGRACE (122 of 161), Read 68 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Friday, September 29, 2000 11:55 PM Ian, Well, I agree with you and I don't. >>I guess underlying much of all of this is the way in which we find it so hard to understand / accept the views / feelings / emotions of others, esp. those who think / behave differently from ourselves.<<< I agree with this in general. I know that there are people I know who can explain things to me and no matter how much we talk we never reach a level of understanding. Where I disagree with you, I guess, is about this book in particular. I'm not sure we were *meant* to understand Lucy. Was there a part in this book that actually came out and said "she loved the land"? It showed her working it. It showed her doing stuff. But, I don't think I got a sense of Lucy loving anything--her lovers, her dogs, her father or the land. Perhaps this was because she was attacked not long after her introduction into the book and then appeared emotionless. (Or maybe I'm just not remembering everything from the book.) Candy---we weren't talking about the same dogs. You were talking about the real ones and I was talking about the 'symbolic ones'. In my blitz of posting I quoted a bunch of the refs which I think explain what I meant. Bo
Topic: DISGRACE (123 of 161), Read 67 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 12:03 AM Ruth/Dale, I don't think David thought about the consequences of his actions with the Isaacs. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. It was David-centered. And, perhaps fit in which his being in 'disgrace mode'. P. 172, "It is not punishment I have refused. I do not murmur against it. On the contrary, I am living it out from day to day, trying to accept disgrace as my state of being. Is it enough for God, do you think that I live in disgrace without term?" Bo
Topic: DISGRACE (124 of 161), Read 67 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 02:03 AM Ok Bo I am so confused with all the dog stuff anyway and I think I was just off on some bizarre tangent so sorry if I was flaky. I want to say after all of this that I think maybe it sounds like I didn't think these were interesting people or something. What I think I like most about these people and characters whether or not they were the protagonist including Petrus and Bev is that these were all people whose lives started after disgrace. I find them infinitely more interesting and human and accessible than many novels or real people. Um the Isaacs...well atonement is weird. I thought that that part was very realistic, Ruth. I don't know if there are many here at Cr who have ever gone out and tried atonement, I have been a royal idiot for most of life have spent a good part of it saying, oops, I'm sorry. And the first raw experience of atonement is how very selfish and internal it feels. After wards it seemed to have nothing to do with the other players. But a tangent yet I offer you fair readers...sorry I really liked David, I felt here is a person who has been there and back again, good, now it's time to start living!!!!We don't have to like Lucy or agree or understand, whats very cool in this novel is David has the guts to not boss her around and hang close and bond. I think he 'gets her'. Even if the reader is left trying to catch up... but I'm still afraid of South Africa
Topic: DISGRACE (125 of 161), Read 66 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 08:31 AM One aspect of the atonement bit that hadn't occurred to me before... David was not religious, but he knew that Isaacs most likely was. And the whole basis of the Christian faith is atonement and personal forgiveness. Isaacs did not owe David the approval of his deed, or a lifelong friendship, but he clearly did owe David that forgiveness, under the principles of the faith Isaacs himself professed, but instead used the God idea to further scold and belittle him. Awfully small-minded and holier-than-thou. I really felt for Isaacs in the beginning, but after this episode came away with a strong disliking of him, and an even greater respect for David. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: DISGRACE (126 of 161), Read 67 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 08:54 AM Dale and all, In re-reading this thread, I was struck by a comment I believe Ian made in comparing the visit to the Isaac's to the appearance before the investigating committee. He prostrated himself before Mr. Isaac, and it's in exact contrast to his behavior before the committee. i don't quite understand this prostrating business. Why did he do this? What was he trying to convey with this? I do know priests prostrate themselves before the altar upon ordination as an expression of humility and subservience. Beej
Topic: DISGRACE (127 of 161), Read 66 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 09:03 AM Beej: I believe that by the end of David's visit he realized overwhelmingly (and rightfully) the extent to which words were failing him. I think the act of kneeling was totally on impulse, out of sincere desperation, because it was the only religious gesture he knew. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: DISGRACE (128 of 161), Read 69 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 09:59 AM I didn't think he prostrated himself in front of the committee. I think by his actions he more or less told them it was none of their business, all the while knowing he was sealing his fate. Caving in to their demands would have been prostrating, don't you think? Ruth
Topic: DISGRACE (129 of 161), Read 69 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 10:01 AM Ruth, I meant he prostrated himself to Mr. Isaac. he did the opposite in front of the committee...refused to bow in any way for the sake of humility. Beej
Topic: DISGRACE (130 of 161), Read 66 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 01:35 PM I'm right with you on your characterization of this Isaacs visit, Dale. From my admittedly biased point of view, David is a far better man than Mr. Isaacs. The passage Bo quotes bears posting again: It is not punishment I have refused. I do not murmur against it. On the contrary, I am living it out from day to day, trying to accept disgrace as my state of being. Is it enough for God, do you think that I live in disgrace without term? This question is posed to Mr. Isaacs whose response is less than satisfactory in my view. Steve
Topic: DISGRACE (131 of 161), Read 60 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 01:50 PM Beej ~~ Re the committee/Mr Isaacs visit. On a personal level, the David-Melanie affair is none of the committee's d*mn business; he is summoned before them since it is perceived as a breach of professional etiquette. David's conduct at the hearing is his way of conveying this to these holier-than-thous. Re Mr Isaacs, however, the whole David-Melanie-Isaacs family thing is an intensely personal matter, and David's conduct reflects that. I saw David as reflecting upon what might have been between him and Melanie, in another time and place, perhaps, while still trying to come to terms with the upset which the whole business had caused to her family. He does what he can to atone, but to no avail. The committee wanted him to atone, he didn't (at least in their eyes) and he lost his job. He did atone to Mr Isaacs - and was rebuffed. Heads you lose, tails you don't win. Ian
Topic: DISGRACE (132 of 161), Read 58 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 01:40 PM >>the whole basis of the Christian faith is atonement and personal forgiveness. Isaacs did not owe David the approval of his deed, or a lifelong friendship, but he clearly did owe David that forgiveness, under the principles of the faith Isaacs himself professed, but instead used the God idea to further scold and belittle him. Awfully small-minded and holier-than-thou.<< Dale ~~ Yay!! Well said! Ian
Topic: DISGRACE (133 of 161), Read 60 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 01:59 PM Ian, Of course! I should have seen that. Thanks...it really was none of the committee's business, was it? Beej
Topic: DISGRACE (134 of 161), Read 56 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 02:53 PM Ian -- I agree -- Dale said it well -- now I would pose a question -- bear in mind folks I was to pick this up today and didn't get to do so. My thought was this -- the small-minded and holier than thou thing -- sounds like a great many small, missionary/evangelist type preachers I have heard and known -- and once again connected this book with my recent re-reading of The Poisonwood Bible -- Reverend Price could have taught that version of Christianity to Isaacs easily I would wager. Dottie -- chomping at the bit to get into this one ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: DISGRACE (135 of 161), Read 56 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Lynn Isvik (washualum@yahoo.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 07:46 PM I'm as puzzled by David's intentions in going to the Issacs' home as the rest of you. At first, just based on reading the discussion here, I was tempted to believe he was demonstrating the sincerity of apology that the university committee professed to seek, but which he denied them. (But how can any outsider judge another's sincerity?) However, as soon as I read his reaction to meeting Melanie's younger sister (Desiree, no less!) I wondered how he could possibly sit at the dinner table with the family mouthing apologies at the same time he's lusting after the remaining daughter. This does NOT sound like a man who has learned anything: "fruit of the same tree, down probably to the most intimate detail. Yet with differences: different pulsings of the blood, different urgencies of passion. The two of them in the same bed: an experience fit for a king." Lynn
Topic: DISGRACE (136 of 161), Read 58 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 08:52 PM Lynn notes, of David's behavor at the Isaac household... "...mouthing apologies at the same time he's lusting after the remaining daughter. This does NOT sound like a man who has learned anything." To which I would suggest...Lynn, none of us, as human beings, can control our perceptions of anything, much less those regarding passion, religion, or sexuality. Everything I have read and experienced tells me that our brains are hard-wired toward that same function until the day we die. The only thing we can control is our interpretation of and/or physical response to those perceptions, which I believe David has learned in the greatest, and most punishing, measure possible. Are we all actually responsible, morally, for everything that we think? God, I hope not. I don't believe that this is, by any means, a gender thing; I have seen, in the past month alone, dozens of jokes via E-mail that represent female responses to the above paradigm, in exact mirror images of lust, foolishness, hubris, not learning, etc. The pendulum swings both ways. Society's reaction depends on which faction happens to be on top at any given time. At this time, it's sure not David. And it's sure not my feeble defense of his actions. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: DISGRACE (137 of 161), Read 53 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Lynn Isvik (washualum@yahoo.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 09:43 PM Dale, I agree that we can't be held morally responsible for things we think but choose not to act on. But I have to think some more about why this little bit made me think "how could he?" as strongly as it did. Maybe it's just something I'm bringing to it rather than David's character at all. (As you may have guessed, I didn't have a particularly sympathetic reaction to David in general, which also bears some more thinking.) Lynn
Topic: DISGRACE (138 of 161), Read 55 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 10:00 PM to me that seemed like a typical guy thing to think. I am pretty sure the day guys aren't still dreaming about stuff like that fantasy is the day us chicks won't be getting any. Its so healthy and remember its INSIDE his head. What always charms me is on a date or getting to know a guy some of the truly funny sex things they are all ready to talk about but its because when a guy is active he is just ON. There isn't always a nuance type thing... A friend of mine was in Spain and with his gal and he kept looking at women(who couild blame him in Spain) anyways she broke up with him. I told him there are lots of reasons to break up with him, but that wasn't one of them!!!!
Topic: DISGRACE (139 of 161), Read 59 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 10:46 PM Bless you Candy. May you multiply and be fruitful among women. The Chilbained Lawyer
Topic: DISGRACE (140 of 161), Read 57 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, October 01, 2000 07:09 AM I would put it this way, Lynn. Being a male is a dirty damned job, but somebody's got to do it. However, your question concerning the sincerity of his apology is an apt one. The answer is not a simple yes or no. What do we mean by sincere? I do believe that his intentions were sincere in the sense that he did wish to atone in some way to these people. But if by sincere we mean that he truly regrets the Melanie affair and would rather it had not happened, I have my doubts, too. These are two entirely different interpretations of sincerity in these circumstances. This mixture of the sincere and the insincere, this ambiguity, is perfectly captured by his kneeling and touching the floor with his forehead. I am fascinated by that gesture, as has already been made abundantly clear. Recall that he does that not only before the mother but before the mother and Desirée. This gesture expresses his wish to atone to the mother and his adoration of this sister's lush little body all at the same time. That's how I see it anyway. Steve
Topic: DISGRACE (141 of 161), Read 58 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Lynn Isvik (washualum@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, October 01, 2000 08:52 AM I love this interpretation of a dual meaning in his bowing!! I never considered it that way. Lynn
Topic: DISGRACE (142 of 161), Read 56 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, October 01, 2000 09:36 AM Lynn, I suppose one might try to make the case that this gesture is both an apology to the mother and an apology to the daughter for his lustful thoughts concerning her. However, I don't find any evidence to support the latter. The one thing I am sure of, however, is that is no accident or meaningless coincidence that the daughter is sitting on that bed with her mother when he does this, just as it is no accident or meaningless coincidence that they are in a bedroom in the first place. Steve
Topic: DISGRACE (143 of 161), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Monday, October 02, 2000 04:43 PM >>However, your question concerning the sincerity of his apology is an apt one. The answer is not a simple yes or no. What do we mean by sincere?<< Steve ~~ Good point, and one that I think Coetzee is at pains to draw out. David could have flipped the committee the insincerest apology under the sun and kept his job. He had enough moral fibre not to do so. Whatever his motivation(s) in turning up at the Isaacses, I think there is some element of sincerity present. Feel free to disagree with me! Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (144 of 161), Read 49 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sheila Ash (sheila_ash@talk21.com) Date: Sunday, October 01, 2000 09:57 AM Wow, what a book! It has taken me ages to finish it due to other things happening else I think I would not have been able to put it down. I am sure I will reread this and get a lot more out of it again in years to come. I have been catching up on the posts over the last couple of weeks and there has been quite a discussion. So here is my two penny worth. First, Disgrace - I am always entrigued to work out why authors entitle books with the titles they have. I lossed count of how many disgraces there are in this story - disgarces from one person's view at least. David's loss of job etc through his actions with his student, those actions themselves, Lucy's disgrace in rape, then in pregnacy, then in forfieture of her land, the disgraceful way people treat animals - the dogs, the sheep, David's disgrace in not being able to help and stop Lucy's attack etc etc Second, I've not got my thoughts fully round this yet but keep wanting to personify all the aspects of South African history through apartied and onto today's reconciliation onto the people and their actions in this story, so here goes. Coetzee has always been an oponent of apartheid and this is his first book afterwards. I can't believe he would not have wanted to make a statement. Sherrie said Lucy's reactions was forgiveness and acceptance, Candy said she thought the real disgrace of the story was in being unaccountable, Beej said that to her sacrifice is the surrender of something important in hopes of attaining soemthin even more important - these all sound like the Truth Commission to me, where people give up their past histories and come clean about them, admit their accountability which is accepted, not punished, because knowledge and truth is the more important thing for a united nation going forward than retaliation. Some people take longer to get on board with this idea than others in any society, from both sides. Lucy is quicker than David, Petrus is quicker than the rapist. For all the disgraces in South African history in the past, the biggest disgrace of all will be if the Truth Commission approach does not work. For all their history, success will be from both sides working together, from Lucy and Petrus' alliance. Sheila
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (145 of 161), Read 49 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, October 01, 2000 11:35 AM This novel demands a lot of thought and a reread, Sheila. You are absolutely right. I think nearly everyone here shares your reaction in that one must percolate on it for several days after finishing it before any coherent impressions emerge at all. I found your note fascinating, particularly the closing in which you refer to this "alliance" between Lucy and Petrus. You obviously left the book with a somewhat positive, or at least hopeful, picture of post-apartheid South Africa. As I haltingly tried to express in an earlier note, my impression was a more jaundiced one of a chaotic, anarchic place away from the urban centers. Who's to know who's right? In a recent issue of Harper's, an article by Earl Shorris appeared in which he bemoans the disappearance of the world's small languages amid the forces of globalization, small languages being the focus of the identities of small cultures. The letters in response were more interesting than the article, however. As we have seen here on this webboard, some of the most interesting and thoughtful writing concerning philosophical issues in this country is currently emanating from the state of Alaska, however strange that may seem. David Allen from Fairbanks wrote: In some far future, we may all be monolingual and unicultural (and Coca-Cola-drinking, café-au-lait-colored atheists as well), and Earl Shorris correctly suggests that, if so, we may be poorer without the Mayan words for "blue." But we may also have forgotten who is Irish and who is Tutsi; no more Serbs and Croats; no more Muslims and Hindus. Does globalization bring cultural amnesia? Maybe. But a loss of cultural diversity is a small price to pay for an end to communal slaughter. I think this has everything to do with your point. It is also clear to me, however, that both David Lurie and I are disoriented and bewildered by this coming new world. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (146 of 161), Read 49 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, October 01, 2000 12:42 PM Shelia and Steve, wow these were great thoughts and you made so much sense Steve, because I think that with Lucy and what she did to live was a person who was already clued into 'the futureof peace' or something and poor David is just unsure but getting stronger...I think this was a very positive novel but you're right we know until time has passed. Thanks for the Alaska quote...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (147 of 161), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Sunday, October 01, 2000 08:36 PM Hurrah for the person/people who chose this book. It's certainly a great discussion book! Sheila, I loved the way you put this, "Lucy is quicker than David, Petrus is quicker than the rapist." Which is helps to put things in a framework. I think the one thing that makes this such a good discussion book is all the ambiguities. Lots of room for interpretation. I was wondering if anyone knew anything about Coetzee. I saw that there were several criticism books about his earlier works around (but not ones I could get my hands on early enough for the discussion.) I read the book not knowing who he was or what 'sides' he was on. >>success will be from both sides working together, from Lucy and Petrus' alliance.<< This is very perceptive. I saw it as almost a resignation or a last alternative rather than a choice. Not that good things can't come out of that kind of situation. I've been trying to describe this book to some friends which has been tough. Often one'll use the image of a tapestry to describe a complex work. I think that might work for a classic---tightly woven threads, laden with meaning. For this book, however, I saw it more as thick pieces of cloth loosely woven together into something like a shawl or blanket. The threads are obvious but one can almost poke little holes between the pieces. Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (148 of 161), Read 40 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, October 02, 2000 03:20 AM Bo -- my immediate thought was -- ambiguities like LIFE in capital letters and room for interpretation -- as in HUMANS -- no two ever really alike though agreements are reached and breached and rearranged by groups, the idea is always seen from just that one point where no one else can really know the exact meaning of it -- the other person's mind and soul. I also love this bulky version of a tapestry which you have offered here as a description for this book -- I think it really is much more descriptive of the complexities and knots and "bumps"of life into which humans bumble as they walk the earth and live their moments of time. And the holes are so much more obvious in a textile of this sort than in a tapestry though those, too, have small gaps which can be found when light is shown through them. Dottie -- who FINALLY started Disgrace last night before bed! ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (149 of 161), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Mary Anne Papale (mapreads@aol.com) Date: Monday, October 02, 2000 12:20 PM This book keeps coming back in real life. This weekend I was talking with a friend from Columbus who described a "dog park" near her home, a fenced-in place where pet owners can take their dogs so they can romp and frolic while the owner sits on a park bench. It sounds like a great idea to me. I was considering proposing such a thing here in Flint, when WHAM! I realized that it would never work here because there are so many bigger problems and issues that need to be fixed first. And if such a contrast exists 150 miles apart in the USA, how stark it must be in South Africa. Here is Lucy, keeping pampered pets for those that have the ability to go on vacation. And these animals are on display for all, including those who get no such treatment. That would have to be as offensive as Lucy's lesbianism. Another disgrace to consider. Metaphors be with you... MAP
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (150 of 161), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sheila Ash (sheila_ash@talk21.com) Date: Monday, October 02, 2000 01:36 PM Bo, I would really urge you to read more of his work. Is this one his best? Probably, or very close to it. Previously my favourite was his reworking of the Robinson Crusoe story called Foe - no spoiler, but there is a neat twist to the telling of that tale. The Master of Petersburg was a powerful rendering of Dostoevsky and would appeal to anyone interested in that writer or Russian literature. His other works are all based in South Africa and although it has been a long time since I read those I know Gail has raved about The Life and Times of Michael K so much that I thought I might have to reread it. Sheila
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (151 of 161), Read 37 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Monday, October 02, 2000 02:43 PM Sheila: I vote strongly for THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MICHAEL K. I considered it Coetzee's masterpiece and doubted he'd be able to top it, so I came to DISGRACE a good bit skeptical. Boy, was I wrong. Still, that doesn't keep MICHAEL K from being a moving and unforgettable piece of work, which is somewhere high on my all-time-best fiction list. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (152 of 161), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Monday, October 02, 2000 04:59 PM I will be forever indebted to gail for putting me onto The Life and Times of Michael K. That's not to say that it is an easy novel. It is not, but well, well worth the effort. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (153 of 161), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Monday, October 02, 2000 07:05 PM Steve -- well, then obviously, Coetzee doesn't 'do' easy novels because Disgrace is definitely not easy! Having just devoured it -- beginning last night and finishing about midnight tonight -- I am much more disturbed by it than I had already concluded I would be from having read along as this discussion unfolded -- but I think I will stick with some comments I made BEFORE reading it. Wij zullen zien!! Will reread the thread and then see what I have to say beyond what has been said. I'm glad I went out and got this one definitely and am now curious to know if my in real life group has tackled this one -- will have to get in touch with the lady who was the 'purveyor of difficult reads' for that group {G}. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (154 of 161), Read 27 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sheila Ash (sheila_ash@talk21.com) Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000 01:23 PM Steve, Fascinating reading.. both the book and your note! You say "Does globalization bring cultural amnesia? Maybe. But a loss of cultural diversity is a small price to pay for an end to communal slaughter." I actually think this is a very high price to pay! It is from this very diversity of human natures, creeds, cultures and societies that we are who we are. I wonder if our imaginations would not be as ripe with less variety around, whether our creativities would dry up if everything/everyone was the same as everything/everyone else. Yes, I know some aspects of human beings existence are not good and we'd in many ways be better of without them, but I ere to the point of view that diversity is healthy. So I don't want South Africa or any place, or the world, to loose too much what we need to encourage is the acceptance of diversity. One path is not better than another, just different. Slight changes are OK if they permit gains. And that is where I think South Africa is, where Lucy is. It/She has accepted the price to be paid. She made that adjustment fastest in the book, even though she seemed to be the most down in spirit at one point. She actually worked mentally through the transition faster. Sheila
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (155 of 161), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000 01:38 PM Interesting questions to ponder in the context of this novel, Sheila. In the case of Lucy, however, Coetzee throws a wrench in the works with the sexual assault on her. Had she fallen in with a black man voluntarily, this would simply have been another touchy-feely novel about forbidden love and a father's adjustment. That's why we pay this guy to write though. By the way, Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen is coming up on the Classics Corner list, which will make a nice counterpoint to this one. I love that damned book for some reason. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (156 of 161), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000 02:28 PM Me, too, Steve. Ruth
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (157 of 161), Read 25 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000 04:49 PM Further to SHEILA's remarks about diversity: The human race is being homogenized, and when we are all little fat globules dispersed in the milk of existence, there will be no cream and George Orwell will be vindicated. Don't ask me what I mean, but I mean it. Further to STEVE and RUTH on OUT OF AFRICA, you gots it! Pres, How do I know what I think until I see what I say ?
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (158 of 161), Read 20 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000 07:39 PM Sheila et al, Thanks for the suggestions of other Coetzee books and what they're about. I remember several people commenting that Boyhood wasn't a favorite so I didn't look at it though it was readily available around here. Dottie, I'll be curious about your reflections now that you've read and interacted with the ideas of the book, then read it. Was it what you expected? Were the issues more sharply defined for you or did reading the notes ahead of time wreck the 'story' for you? Sheila/Steve, >>You say "Does globalization bring cultural amnesia? Maybe. But a loss of cultural diversity is a small price to pay for an end to communal slaughter." When I first read Steve's statement it was so beautifully written that I just kinda said, "yeah, OK, and went on." Now that I actually think about it (thanks, Sheila) I have to say that it's a real tough one. >>I actually think this is a very high price to pay! It is from this very diversity of human natures, creeds, cultures and societies that we are who we are. Acceptance of diversity is a high priority for me. I'm also into preserving my heritage even though I don't have kids to pass it on to. But, where do you draw the line? And, to get this back on topic, I guess that's a lot of what was uncomfortable about Disgrace. The lines kept mushing. (Bad dog pun, sorry, didn't see that one coming.) Coincidentally, I'm in the process of reading Shippley's Country of Strangers which brings a lot of these issues closer to home. Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (159 of 161), Read 16 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000 09:33 PM Yeah, you know Steve I'm very glad you posted about global divversity etc. Wne I think about Disgrace getting an award like the Booker I am so blown away because it is such a radical book. On another thread here I say how Disgrace slaps the face of European and American ethnocentricity. I still feel the sting and am surprised to see there is mass acceptance of this book. I mean, this book is a harsh critique of the failures of western culture to provide and sustain for their people so much so that the 'europeans' are adopting and accepting the sense of responsibility and community of the new/old culture. Culture is an organic force. As much as part of me is glad that the world has adopted some of our hobbies and habits like Starbucks and human rights...another part of me sees culture as like an organic thing and compares what we know of say the potato famine. That event occured because only one kind of potato was grown so when a weakness attacked one plant that was it. We need all the cultures.For 10,000 years we have been spreading totalitarian agriculture as a way of making a living and I wonder if this is such a good idea it has almost wiped out all the other ways to make a living...biologically one culture seems like a better target for breakdown. That focus on totalitarian agriculture is probably the reason great cultures have demolished in the past... bo Ireally enjoyed your post about weaving. I got choked up its such a great image and one I felt moved by in a terrific book I read a few months ago called One River by Wade Davis. In one chapter he is talking about the way the people insouth America are always moving gathering supplies and trading or visiting and they move all over the land and they call it weaving and they of course make fabulous woven blankets and clothes and also their stories are all a rich weaving and this notion of weaving occurs in every aspect of their lives. (I highly recommend One River its got so much, adventure, ethnobotony, coc leaf chewing, explorations, anecdotes and a spirituality that is both pragmatic and supernatural-there is no difference) blah blah I have so lost track of what I am saying...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (160 of 161), Read 13 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 12:30 AM Candy, >>Disgrace getting an award like the Booker I am so blown away because it is such a radical book. Is it atypical for this award to go to this kind of book? >> On another thread here I say how Disgrace slaps the face of European and American ethnocentricity. I still feel the sting and am surprised to see there is mass acceptance<< Are you also referring to it being accepted here? Reading this in context I guess you might be referring to the Booker. Would you expect that there might be more 'controversy' over it here? >>people in South America are always moving gathering supplies and trading or visiting and they move all over the land and they call it weaving and they of course make fabulous woven blankets and clothes<<< Thanks for the book suggestion. It's amazing what symbolism some of this has. Our book group read The Farming of Bones by Edwindge Dandicat---the title is what they call cutting sugarcane (and was also a reference to the slaughter in Haiti in the 1930s). Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (161 of 161), Read 12 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 12:39 AM Bo, I just read The Serpent and The Rainbow by Wade Davis about Haiti. Like JUST read it. How funny. No, I meant a slap in the face to us here in North America and to Europe, not the Booker prize....but the content and magnifying glass on our ethnocetricity. On our broken sense of community and family and marriage in modern culture is rejected by Lucy as she takes a new tribe. Her father taking it too. It's only ethnocentricity that makes us not understand her motives and think they are anarchists. Petrus was not an anarchist, he had a very structured community that cars for each other and protects too. The old way was over farming, and slavery, and apartheid...the old way being the European and North American ways ...ouch!!! hey anybody read TIME article on divorce? I thought it was out of it because it's not the divorce that messes up the kids, it's seeing parents, role models act like vindictive petty creeps that tramatizes a kid. Parents staying friends, and still rearing kids won't mess them up....but drawing lines and grudges and mind games will)
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (162 of 171), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sheila Ash (sheila_ash@talk21.com) Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 01:52 PM Bo, I don't know Shippley's Country of Strangers - tell, tell. No kids here either, perhaps that where the passion comes from ( passion for diversity I mean) especially when you see it drifting away in others. Candy, Have you read El Hablador by Mario Vargas Llosa? It ages since I have, but your comment about South America and weaving brought it to mind. Various Indian groups have people who move around the villages telling stories and tales, in effect their aural history. The English title of The Storyteller is really not an adequate translation for "the one who speaks". Following on more from Bo's weaving discussion, there is another aspect of weaving that goes on here and that is the weaving of various strands of retold experience into the stories of a culture and a people's history especially when there is no written equivalent. If the world is loosing this in the Americas and elsewhere today, what will the world be like when our history is forgotten? If you like the sort of reading that your One River descriptions suggestions, then try this one. Sheila
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (163 of 171), Read 37 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sheila Ash (sheila_ash@talk21.com) Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 12:50 PM Steve, Oh, Out of Africa - I've never read that..when are Classics reading it? Its from an earlier era, so your right it could be an interesting counterpoint.Will have to see if I can get a copy. Sheila
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (164 of 171), Read 40 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 01:05 PM Out of Africa is CC's November book. Sherry
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (165 of 171), Read 37 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Mary Anne Papale (mapreads@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 02:08 PM Candy, your point about Disgrace being a slap in the face of western ethnocentricity rings so true to me. Like David, we "just don't get it", do we? We seem to need that slap. Metaphors be with you... MAP
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (166 of 171), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 05:07 PM Mary Anne you bring up a point, can art really effect us? Can it really give us a slap a permanent slap? I mean in a different way, is it able to show us or change us? Do people after the age of 25 or 30 just wake up one day and read something that blows them away and makes them think completely different track than the one they are on??? I can think of one example I have a friend of 20 years and he called up an old girlfriend who lived a 1000 miles away and said,how are you what are you to etc she was surprised to hear from him and he said he just read Bridges of madison ...and wanted to know if she had read it, no she says so off she goes and reads it, and calls him back and says, why did you want me to read this, whats the big deal. he says he was so affected by it and he thought of her and would she consider hooking back up with him. I guess that was about 5 years ago and they still live together. Mark Rothko kind of had that effect on me when I was in school and went to NYC for the first time, they were so powerful the work in person compared to photos and the size I just kind of changed my whole way of painting myself. I mean Disgrace suggests something but what and how far do we take literature into our lives? Should we take it so seriously? I don't know I just was wondering about this...in some ways the commitment of being a reader is something that affects the way one lives just by reading and giving time to it to think and read other peoples ideas. To me on the Election thread, someone said that we shouldn't talk politics on forum and I know that for personal feelings this is wise sometimes politics can hit people in the heart. Shoot all good politivcs should!! And I feel that literature high or low is the most confronting philosophically when it ranges into politics or mortallity. The act of reading IS political...just to know what is out there...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (167 of 171), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 05:09 PM Shelia, sounds like an interesting book is this fiction or non? I will order it at library, thanks!!! Did I mention here that I am working part time in a book store and we have to keep 'beat 'literature and subversive literature behind the cash? Like Chomsky? That is general practice now in book stores, its the ones that get swiped.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (168 of 171), Read 26 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 09:26 PM Candy, I've always believed that literature is capable of effecting profound change. Using South Africa as an example, CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY by Alan Paton was very influential in alerting the world to S. A.'s racial injustice. Another great novel. Robt
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (169 of 171), Read 24 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 10:17 PM Candy, >>It's only ethnocentricity that makes us not understand her motives and think they are anarchists. Well, old Anthro major that I was, I don't think so. :) I'll argue that Coetzee didn't write her well enough so that I could understand her motives (couldn't be me, you know). I do think that as an American that I could have grasped some of this had it been written differently. Maybe my lack of knowledge about South Africa (is this really ethnocentrism, though?) is what made the difference. As I mentioned, I didn't know if Coetzee was black, Afrikaner (which I can't even spell) or white when I started this book. I also wasn't sure until part way through which character fit into which group. I thought I'd read it just as I would any other novel. Sheila, David K. Shipler's A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America is (from the jacket cover) an exploration of the psychological landscape where blacks and whites meet...we learn how blacks and whites see each other, how they interpret each other's behavior, and how certain damaging images and assumptions seep into the actions of even the most unbiased." It's slow reading but very thought provoking. The section I just read is about groups on college campuses. It got me thinking about how I would relate to some of the situations presented. Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (170 of 171), Read 17 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Thursday, October 05, 2000 01:51 AM Bo, I understand, I have no idea what colour people were in almost any novel I read let alone Disgrace. I don't think their colour was relevant. I was talking about culture and ways of living. How we live is mostly defined by how we get food. Oh sheesh, nothing to do with skin!!! Noo I meant that Petrus structure of culture and how he lived seems different than how we do as a community in North America and Europe, I think our different way of making a living is what prevents us from understanding Lucy. I'm not sure he wanted to give us more info than he did.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (171 of 171), Read 16 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sheila Ash (sheila_ash@talk21.com) Date: Thursday, October 05, 2000 01:26 PM Candy, Fiction. Sheila
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (172 of 180), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sheila Ash (sheila_ash@talk21.com) Date: Tuesday, October 10, 2000 11:54 AM Candy, You wrote " I don't know I just was wondering about this...in some ways the commitment of being a reader is something that affects the way one lives just by reading and giving time to it to think and read other peoples ideas. To me on the Election thread, someone said that we shouldn't talk politics on forum and I know that for personal feelings this is wise sometimes politics can hit people in the heart. Shoot all good politivcs should!! And I feel that literature high or low is the most confronting philosophically when it ranges into politics or mortallity. The act of reading IS political...just to know what is out there..." This got me to thinking as well....I have to say I have not read the Election thread thinking it would be pure Americana, forgive me but time is an active prioritiser!... but I agree with you about the act of reading being political with a small p ( as against Party Political with a capital P). Lets not forget books have been burnt, printing machines wrecked, some people do not have the ability to read a book, some do not have the ability to read the book of their choice. Surely its just as appropriate and valid to talk about a book in terms of politics as in terms of anything else, be that friendships and their values, relationships, their values and qualities, places seen and unseen, people met and unmet, music, art, cultures known and unknown, political regimes experienced directly and not. Books and the reading of books inspire - I hope we all agree about that - surely one thing they inspire in us is our imagination, irrespective of whether we liked the book or not. Our vivid imaginations probably brought us to reading, kept us reading and both us and our imaginations grow on reading more. As such readers we make links between what we've read, what we've experienced, what we've read about the experiences of others and we make new and novel connections between these. We discuss these new connections in the hope of inspiring further dialog with other readers, both for its own sake and so that we get to know them better as individuals, for themselves. If we don't agree with someone's view, we disagree or say nothing. We have that choice. In one sense everything we do is political! Much is a manifestation of hard political fights for rights in bygone days - be that American Independence or Votes for Women. Let's keep discussing everything, we do not have to censor the Board, we all have control of our computer's ON/OFF switch. Sheila - hoping not too many will have switched off!
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (173 of 180), Read 38 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, October 10, 2000 12:08 PM Shelia, thanks for sharing such great inspiring thoughts. I wonder all this because a book like Disgrace really makes me think about how I live and how I treat others and animals. How I might judge other ways of living and we all did here not understanding Lucy's decision that revealed our natural and cultural fear of other ways of making a living and I found that super interesting. Books like Gravitys Rainbow or Catch 22 or Blood Meridian are books that made me seriously question how I live and how we all live in North America. Made me think about war. the Accidental Tourist made me think differently about love. About how some love is 'bad for you, it doesn't make you a better person'. Young people who read Anne Rice and this was me totally when I was young adopted wearing black and looking like the Munsters and thinking about mortality and love and the fragility of life and the power of love and sex to rejuvenate.All that vampires inspire and reveal.(that is the core of the goth movement if anyone was wondering, ha ha) I was looking at books in a big book store yesterday and they had a display on books that had been banned. It was really amazing to see them all just right there. so many and Wizard of Oz was in them!!!!(I had no idea it was banned, but I guess its because its a story where adults are idiots and a kid has to save the day and find out THERE IS NO GOD!, although I'm sure some other reason was given to why it was banned) I don't know I have to re-read your post Shelia you said so much I've got to mull it over.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (174 of 180), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Mary Anne Papale (mapreads@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, October 10, 2000 01:45 PM Candy, I am told that the book Wizard of Oz is a metaphor for the silver vs. gold standard of currency, very political indeed. But going back to the points made, I am reminded of the excerpts of John Stuart Mill's On Liberty which Denby quotes in Great Books, which suggest that we must have a complete airing and an understanding of all points of view in order to achieve liberty. So let us read on, and post on, shall we? Metaphors be with you... MAP
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (175 of 180), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2000 02:02 AM I finished this book on the plane back from San Francisco Monday morning. Don't know that I can add much to what has already been written here. I did not see the narrator as being portrayed quite as sympathetically as some of you - he was, of course, a stand-in for the blindness of white South Africans. I mean, the arrogance of the statement that all of his relationships had enriched him in some way! No reference at all to the other people involved - like he was having serial relationships with himself. His involvement with the dogs at the shelter did not always ring true for me, that compassion seemed to appear and flow from nowhere. I did like this book. Coetzee is a fantastic, complex writer, just my favorite type. At this point, Disgrace does not measure up as compared to Michael K or Barbarians, but that could change, it is a book that grows upon reflection. Theresa, back from attending sister's wedding on Saturday; beautiful bride, handsome groom, Blue Angels flew over the chapel a few times during the ceremony (hey, a military salute), nice reception, even better impromptu party for the younger guests in the hotel lobby afterwards; walked all over my hometown on Sunday in gorgeous weather.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (176 of 180), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2000 04:59 PM >>I did not see the narrator as being portrayed quite as sympathetically as some of you - he was, of course, a stand-in for the blindness of white South Africans.<< Theresa ~~ Interesting point. [Putting on devil's advocate hat] May we infer, in similar fashion, that Petrus and the assailants are representative of black South Africans, who see rape and assault as a legitimate means of reclaiming their land? What interests me here is that a large percentage of the violence in S.A. is also perpetrated by Blacks against Blacks. Hmmm... Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (177 of 180), Read 30 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dale Short (dshort5005@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2000 05:40 PM Ian: Interesting subject, indeed. Speaking of Africa, didn't I read recently that the largest population of slaves in the world today is in the Republic of Mauritania--blacks enslaving blacks? And that the issue is a cultural/political hot potato that black leaders in America and elsewhere are generally loathe to take a stand on, or even acknowledge? As I recall, there's a new nonfiction book about that situation. Can't remember if it's for a popular or academic audience, though. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (178 of 180), Read 22 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Robert Armstrong (rla@nac.net) Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2000 08:12 PM Ian, I didn't think that Petrus saw rape as a legitimate means of reclaiming land. I thought he was silent about the subject and how he felt about the rape was unclear. My feeling is that he did not approve but was realistic about its likelihood. Robt
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (179 of 180), Read 15 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Thursday, October 12, 2000 02:05 AM Hmmm. I seem to have hit a nerve or two. First, the book: I think that Petrus is a pragmatist. He doesn't work evil, but lives in the world as he finds it. He is no more evil than the whites who didn't work evil, but lived in the world they found in apartheid South Africa. The daughter is evolving into a pragmatist, like a quick microcosm of evolution, adapting to her environment (I know that is not a correct, scientific analogy, but you know what I mean.) An interesting contrast - Petrus had two wives (and potentially three); anathema in our narrator's world. But our narrator (gosh, his name escapes me at the moment, I'm dead tired) has probably been with many more women in his lifetime. They mirror each other. Now, those nerves. I'm not sure about Ian's and Dale's point - condemning apartheid doesn't mean accepting slavery of Africans by Africans. It's bad no matter who is doing it. I don't think it is true that African-Americans have been totally silent on this issue, in fact I know it is not true, but there is definitely not much of an uproar. I think it is true that all Americans are rather silent on ANY issue affecting Africa. There are terrible civil wars going on right now in Sudan, Congo and elsewhere; equally as bad as anything in Europe in the past few years. I do know that I'll be giving this book another read one of these days. Theresa
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (180 of 180), Read 9 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Thursday, October 12, 2000 04:07 AM Theresa -- thank you for the input on how much is heard/reported in the US on, for example, the Congo -- I have seen some of the news on it as -- of course, Belgium has a role and not only in the past but even now -- I don't really know what the present role is but it definitely exists as when the more recent troubles began there was a flurry of reports here -- from which I gathered very little real information to help me understand things -- beyond the fact that there is fighting going on. I definitely agree I will be rereading Disgrace and reading some of the other Africa based novels which I have not read but which CRs have mentioned here and in the past and perhaps scouting out some current analysis of the state of various African countries -- such as Congo and Kenya and whatever one of them it is which includes Southern Rhodesia -- it's Zimbabwe, isn't it? Dottie -- thinking CRs are hitting nerves and having nerves quite a bit lately -- but the threads are certainly growing! ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (181 of 198), Read 41 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Thursday, October 12, 2000 05:40 PM Everyone ~~ These posts certainly have covered a wide range of topics! My mind still spins with the whole initial starting point of all that follows, viz. society's unwritten law which says that it is in some way bad for a middle-aged man to be attracted to a woman 30 years his junior (and, I suspect, have the feelings to some extent reciprocated). Obviously, Coetzee's whole tale evolves from that point. I think I'm rambling. What I'm getting at is that the above scenario is a no-no. Yet we are somehow more 'conditioned' for women to be brutalised - and feel it is not worthwhile to report it - and for people (black or white) to get their way by brute force. When I see the book in this sort of light, I wonder if Coetzee isn't simply trying to tell us that we've got our priorities (i.e. 'the rules') all wrong. Blabbering over. Where I am it's 11.23 p.m. and I should be staggering off to bed. See you all tomorrow! Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (182 of 198), Read 42 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Thursday, October 12, 2000 08:13 PM Theresa, >>An interesting contrast - Petrus had two wives (and potentially three); anathema in our narrator's world. But This is something I didn't see before. Yeah, David had more but since he just @#$@#$ed 'em and didn't marry them, it was OK. Ian, I don't think that it was the attraction to the younger woman that was 'bad' (though it has been increasingly been 'going out of style' in recent years) but rather the inequality of 'power' in the relationship. A teacher/student relationship is IMO similar to the shrink/patient or mentor/apprentice one. One of unequal power. (I'm reading another book right now where a woman is letting her painting teacher beat her up. Unequal power.) That's why, I guess, I saw it as abuse or certainly bordering on it. Dottie, I certainly listened with interest when our Presidential candidates answered the question about Rwanda. If you haven't seen it I would recommend, We Wish To Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With our Families by Philip Gourevitch. I saw him show slides and talk about the book on TV and it was more than shocking. >>Yet we are somehow more 'conditioned' for women to be brutalized - and feel it is not worthwhile to report it - and for people (black or white) to get their way by brute force. Sadly, Ian, I think that you're right. Has it always been this way and are we more sensitized to it or have things changed? >>When I see the book in this sort of light, I wonder if Coetzee isn't simply trying to tell us that we've got our priorities (i.e. 'the rules') all wrong. Yes, this was stated a number of ways before but not as succinctly. Any ideas about what we can do about it? Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (183 of 198), Read 38 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, October 13, 2000 03:08 AM BO -- WHEW!!! I'm going to be a while getting through your post here but ----. FIRST -- I think Ian hit the mark with the age difference thing being the hinge point and your additional insight into the power inequality is secondary though not by much -- here's why -- anytime there is a large age difference just the longer life experience creates an unequal power situation IMO. SECOND -- when were the Presidential Candidates answering a question on Rwanda? In the debates? And what did they SAY in response? I am NOT seeing any of this on my thirty some channels of European television, Bo, not even on CNN which is a pathetic entity in my opinion for being of any REAL use as far as informing viewers. SO -- maybe you should e-mail the response to this part of this post so we don't tie up the thread with present politics. BUT is this We Wish to Inform You ... a book title? I was assuming it was but then wasn't sure. THIRD -- the human condition and priorities in chaos -- that's how it is. As for what do we do about it -- we start with ourselves which is the only human in this universe over which we have any real control -- though it isn't easy for most of us to even control our selves, it is true that we can only control our own acts and no one else's. Just MHO. Dottie -- who continues to be glad that she finally grabbed and read Disgrace! ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (184 of 198), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Friday, October 13, 2000 03:16 PM Was just flicking through Disgrace again and stumbled over the following, which I had forgotten about (it's from the end of ch.3, p.28 in my Vintage ed.): Melanie: 'I wanted to say, I know I've missed a lot of classes, but the production is taking up all my time.' David: 'I understand. You are telling me your drama work has priority. It would have helped if you had explained earlier.' So much for Melanie skipping classes because of her liaison with David. So much for him favouring her with good grades because of it. Was Melanie summoned before a committee to account for her absences from class? Don't think so. Then, on p.29: 'Do you do this kind of thing often?' she asks afterwards. 'Do what?' 'Sleep with your students. Have you slept with Amanda?' He does not answer. Amanda is another student in the class. A wispy blonde. He has no interest in Amanda. (My emphasis.) Just thought I'd throw these in. It's often these little exchanges which shed more light on what's really going on than the bigger scenes. As I was trying to say in my previous post, there are so many aspects of life / society that we are asked to re-examine. David-Melanie: age-difference relationships. Lucy: people going off to do their own thing (Thoreau's drummer!). David-Lucy: father-daughter relationships. Power. P.c'ness. Race. etc. Plus the assaults on Lucy and David (a sort of metaphor for the white 'rape' of South Africa, now being revisited on the white man?) Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (185 of 198), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Friday, October 13, 2000 04:36 PM Ian, people don't always say what they mean, or even know what they mean when they say it. There is a nice French word I can't remember at the moment for this type of deflection. Theresa
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (186 of 198), Read 32 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Friday, October 13, 2000 06:51 PM THERESA Isn't that what I've been saying ? Pres, How do I know what I think until I see what I say ? (Psst! Do you think he knows what he thinks ?)
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (187 of 198), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Friday, October 13, 2000 10:19 PM Dottie, Yes, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We will Die with Our Families (if I remembered it correctly this time) is the title of the book. I gotta learn HTML. I have to admit that I didn't get all the way through the book. Others here might be able to give an opinion on how accurate a job he did reporting 'what happened' in Rwanda. The second presidential debate when asked if what the US did was appropriate, Bush said, "yes." Gore said, "Yes, but we should have sent humanitarian aid sooner." Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (188 of 198), Read 32 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Friday, October 13, 2000 10:53 PM An amazing book on Rwanda from a few years ago is, A Season In Hell...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (189 of 198), Read 31 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Friday, October 13, 2000 11:02 PM Oops, sorry its called Season of Blood by Fergus.
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (190 of 198), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, October 14, 2000 02:55 AM Thanks, Bo and Candy, titles duly noted -- and I think I ran across a link to the texts of the debates but I'll yell if I can't locate them. Disgrace is definitely a book which will stand up to repeat readings and discussion -- good for those CRs around here who are looking for books for in person groups! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (191 of 198), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Saturday, October 14, 2000 08:44 PM Ian, I agree with Theresa. The girl had to give David an excuse, so that was a good one. She was avoiding him is what is evident to me. I am a teacher, and I know that students think nothing of lying to save themselves. It is okay in their culture to lie to adults. Jane
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (192 of 198), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Candy Minx (candyminx@hotmail.com) Date: Saturday, October 14, 2000 09:32 PM You know what, I took this such a different way and I found it distressing this part about her missing classes, you see I thought she was giving an excuse because she was avoiding HIM. That she was having a not traumatic thats too dramatic a word but she was experiencing something creepy about him. And I was taking the teacher/student thing in a liberal way for the most part that it happens and most times both parties are okay or benefiting, but this was a hint to me that she was a little messed up by it...I had forgotten about that part of the story...
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (193 of 198), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Saturday, October 14, 2000 11:02 PM Candy, The book went back to the library but as I remember the story she went back and forth about avoiding him. But, when she actually ended up missing classes later it was because of the drama thing. But then, I could be misremembering. I have a feeling this is another area where Coetzee left some holes so that we'd wonder what was really going on. Does he do this in his other books? Bo
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (194 of 198), Read 38 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Sunday, October 15, 2000 12:48 AM The drama thing was the excuse. She was missing classes because 1) she was uncomfortable around the old letch (I'm not saying she wasn't a bit attracted to him too); and 2) her creepy boyfriend was giving her a bad time about the old letch (of course, the creepy part is told to us entirely from the old letch's POV, so who really knows?) She may, in fact, drama student that she was, have been enjoying being at the center of this little melodrama, nevertheless, the play keeping her busy thing was her cover, not her actual motive. I am convinced. Why do you all buy anything anyone says here? They are all complicated people living in a complicated world. Take for example the prof's "realization" that this girl "might" have meant something to him after all. Did this realization come to him when she was still around? Nope. It was all me, me, me at that point. Despite his stoic facade to the comittee, the guy still felt the need to justify his actions to himself later on. After all, he was living a pretty barren life, emotionally, up to the point he started caring for the dogs. Buying love once a week (another person he could feel in control with, just as with the much younger girl). Not often in contact with his daughter (and what was up with that step-father, anyway, that made the girl want to leave Holland for South Africa? I know this is the current motivation for many ills, but it might explain a lot about the choices daughter made and was making.) The ex-wife was obviously still fond of the prof, when they meet later in the book, but even she wasn't buying any of his "it was maybe true love" b.s. Theresa
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (195 of 198), Read 38 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Sunday, October 15, 2000 04:12 AM Theresa -- good point on the drama student enjoying a drama in her own life but also the pull between that and her real life boyfriend and the involvement with David seems on target. The thing is -- this young girl grew up in SA and has gone through the turn around in that country -- the political and social situation is far different for her perhaps than what we might understand of the student mentality as we know it -- Jane? -- am I wrong to think there would be some major differences here? And I also noted the something not tight feeling I got about that stepfather -- and I think it does have bearing on Lucy's decisions but we just never hear anything directly about this so it gets very hard to pin down facts. Which may be why I said and will repeat -- this will hold up to repeat reading and discussion. And it makes us think of all these little angles which is a good thing when we are generally so blind as to the underlying fine details in these situations. Both the personal ones and the political/social ones. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (196 of 198), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Sunday, October 15, 2000 08:43 AM Theresa, I agree with you. The details of the book are slipping away, but I do know that I never bought his "love" for the girl. It reminded me of the twisted obsession in Lolita. It was all object-related, not person related, and very self-centered. Caring for the dogs jarred something loose in him, made him "love" something other than himself. But even the use of the word "love" in context with the dogs, seems a little off to me. Sherry
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (197 of 198), Read 37 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Lynn Isvik (washualum@yahoo.com) Date: Sunday, October 15, 2000 09:06 AM Here's my take on David's "love" for the dogs (and I put love in quotes because I agree with you, Dottie, that it doesn't quite ring true for me either). I think that the euthanasia of the dogs in the shelter parallels David's attitude about his life at this point. These are dogs that no one wants anymore.... and to some degree David feels that no one wants him anymore -- that he is "unlovable". Even Lucy doesn't seem to want him. The dog with the withered leg is even physically unattractive, as David feels that he is no longer attractive. David is living his life as if he might as well be dead too... sleeping in the rented room, spending all his days sitting in the corner of the shelter yard playing the banjo and writing something he acknowledges is going nowhere but in circles. I think he wishes someone would care for him in his "death" the way he cares for the dogs in their deaths. However, David says that this will be his life until the baby comes... maybe the baby will also represent a rebirth in his life if it helps him redefine himself. Lynn
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (198 of 198), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Sunday, October 15, 2000 05:02 PM Ian, so glad you pointed out those passages. Again, we were slipping into simply repeating generally received thinking rather than paying attention to the text of the book in front of us. For example, the generally received thinking would be that Melanie was precluded from saying no to David and refusing to have sex with him because of his position of power over her. I don't think that conclusion is so obviously supported in this case by this text at all. Ian, if you are so inclined, take a look again at the passage at the end of Chapter 21 involving David's encounter with the young prostitute("younger even than Melanie"), and let me know what you think of David's epiphany and self-assessment there. It seems to me that he has come nearly full circle as the book nears its conclusion. Steve
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (199 of 200), Read 24 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Ian Marks (comfortably_numb@ecosse.net) Date: Friday, October 27, 2000 02:05 PM Steve ~~ Interesting scene, which, I confess, had slipped my mind. It does seem as though he's coming full circle, although maybe there's a different slant on things now. At the start of the book, his encounters with prostitutes (or the prostitute) were purely an expression of his sex life as it was at the time - empty. The pro was all he had. With the young pro at the end, I see a sense of almost helplessness and despondency: Melanie is gone, he experienced something he didn't think he still had the capacity to experience and knows he can never get it back. It's almost as though now he's on the skids. (No doubt cynics would say that he has been for some time [g].) Ian
Topic: Re: DISGRACE (200 of 200), Read 25 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@uswest.net) Date: Friday, October 27, 2000 02:10 PM A comparison of this drugged-up street walker with the prostitute at the beginning of the book would certainly indicate despondency if not a serious case of the skids. "Full circle" may not be the best description after all. Ian, I need your help with some Burns down in the poetry conference. Steve

 

 

J.M. Coetzee

 
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