I don’t think the book is a good representation of Africa but character-wise, I do find this book interesting. Don’t get that wrong, I don’t like the book and I don’t think the book is flawless either. I was more than a bit more than just peeved at David Lurie and his naive impression on the world and his sexuality that he regressed as a mature character. But I do think its an interesting book that talk about rape application and essentially a coming-of-age book in the body of an adult with a childlike mind.
“We put our children in the hands of you people because we think we can trust you. If we can’t trust the university, who can we trust? We never thought we were sending our daughter into a nest of vipers. No, Professor Lurie, you may be high and mighty and have all kinds of degrees, but if I was you I’d be very ashamed of myself, so help me God. If I’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick, now is your chance to say, but I don’t think so, I can see it from your face.” Page 35
Disgrace is a first POV narration and it does carry its limitation. David Lurie is clearly an unreliable narrative but human in every sense. He’s prideful, arrogant, narcissistic and a fool with many degrees. He’s a smart man but still an idiot nonetheless. The book’s narrative is observant and often contradicts his action in so many ways which made the process of reading engrossing. Along the while, I forgot that he’s a middle age man character which the book continuously reminded about. But it was clear that he was ignorant about many things on woman.
Its hard to read the book without imagining a special Chinese water torture with him in it. Yes, he did get a karmic intervention which it took him by surprise and it does have its own facepalm moments when he became so obsessed about his daughter’s situation and her apparently independence and stubbornness about the matter that he’s literally taken off guard. The book is political and at times pushing his views through his characters. But at times, you did get caught up into his storytelling without anticipating it.
The book is moderately visual but very clinical about the subject of sex. From Lurie’s sexual escapades with Soraya, Melanie and Bev Shaw to the gang rape of his daughter and to his horror the child resulting from that rape. But for what its worth, Coetzee is surprisingly feminist, sensitive and stark about woman’s issue. He did show exactly how rape is used as a weapon to manipulate a woman into subjugation. How Lucy was being manipulated into seeing that she was admitting defeat if she reported her rape because to her, it meant she was admitting defeat against her attackers. But as a result, she accepted her fate and willingly let herself fall into Petrus’s manipulation who himself had a hand on her attacks.
‘Hatred . . . When it comes to men and sex, David, nothing surprises me any more. Maybe, for men, hating the woman makes sex more exciting. You are a man, you ought to know. When you have sex with someone strange – when you trap her, hold her down, get her under you, put all your weight on her – isn’t it a bit like killing? Pushing the knife in; exiting afterwards, leaving the body behind covered in blood – doesn’t it feel like murder, like getting away with murder?’
For all its worth, the core in this novel is about humanity with its flaws and adapting to change and forms of power abuse and difficulties when one faces frustrated views contradicting to oneself. Its hardly an enjoyable novel. Geographically unenticing. Stupid Marty Sue character with hedonistic tendencies. But still thought-provoking nonetheless.
‘The question is, does he have it in him to be the woman?