Disgrace – A Novel Narrating Painful Social Changes

If you have deep love for extra beautiful literature, and if you have enough room for reading a novel twice, at least, then J M Coetzee has lot of things to offer. The winner of Nobel Prize in literature in the year 2003, J M Coetzee is a man of his own class, an engineer with his own set of tools. His novels are thick with real world and human miseries. He based his writings on the events happening in his surrounding. He did so at least up to the date he had written his very famous novel ‘Disgrace’. He had tried a novel technique of blending facts and fiction in his next novel Slow Man.

By writing ‘Disgrace’, an allegorical novel, he became the first novelist to pocket Man Booker Prize twice. In ‘Disgrace’ he tries painting landscape of a country, South Africa. It is tale of the time when the regime trading apartheid has just closed its shutters and people are yet to be adjusted to the change of climate. They are free in many respect; they have wings of the changed perception of their own. They have a multitude of newly formed rules to follow.

Keeping the contemporary South African stage setting before his eyes, J M Coetzee writes symbolically about the altered atmosphere. In order to create a visual metaphor for what Coetzee perceives, he uses the story of David Lurie. The protagonist is a professor in literature, and his daughter Lucy has transformed herself into a countrywoman. He superbly narrates how this countrywoman responds to the new challenges of her life in a distorted atmosphere.

The country is virtually lawless in rural sides where David and his daughter reside. They face a spell of legal emptiness which is agonizing; especially for a man like David. Coetzee narrates David as: ‘His temperament is not going to change; he is too old for that.’ In South Africa of David, there is mass violation of the laws. Under such circumstances, one would find the future dark. 

His daughter is made of the different soil. After going through life of a vagabond and leaving the company of a lesbian friend behind, Lucy tries to settle herself in the new environment. The changed scenario of the country has put strange situation before her. She tailors a novel solution for surviving in the new world. She rears dogs for sale; she produces vegetables and flowers in her Eastern Cape farm. 

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