JM Coetze Disgrace sidharth vardhan

‘Disgrace’ by J. M. Coetzee: A Review

This is soul-shaking, most depressing book that I have ever read. The whole book is reaching out to that ultimate point of depression where nothing is left for one to find redemption, and all that is left is ‘to let go’. The book is so depressingly realistic that you find yourself wishing like a child that a fairy godmother or a comic superhero makes an appearance out of nowhere and set things right – despite knowing that no such thing was ever going to happen. You end up looking for any remote point of redemption – when David finally seeks apology you want to have him forgiven; or when David sets a dog on Pollux, you feel the satisfaction that could be derived from revenge, or you want Lousy to shift away from place or David to take the dog as a pet.

I admit that I wasn’t impressed by the book at first but it is with the incidence at Lousy’s house that book picked up for me. The writing style seemed a bit boring except for poetical extracts quoted here and there. It was from the incidence of a burglary that I felt involved in it.

David is this man entering old age but still trying to maintain the passions of the young. His instincts are one of a poet, and within poetry, he finds reason enough for the little scandal that comes in starting of story. He doesn’t feel sorry for it even at the cost of losing his job but is rather defensive, accepting charges but refuses to apologize for his actions. He finds it immoral to kill one’s instincts quoting, again as is his habit a poet:

“’Do you remember Blake?’ he says. ‘Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires’?”

He uses the somewhat the same poetical sense of reason which Santino Ariza used to explain similar actions in Gabriel’s “Love in Time of Cholera”. However, all this is bound to change after the incidence at the farm. That is where disgrace steps in. Later he puts his thoughts in Byron’s mouth,

“Out of the poets I learned to love … but life, I found is another story.”

The above quote pretty much sums David’s part of the story. My problem though is with Lousy. Why won’t she report the rape (and it being a private matter is poor excuse especially with the pregnancy)? Why is she so defeatist? I understand her reservations for adaption. Why wouldn’t she move out? For what is she willing to suffer so much? Maybe she got fond of her little house and life and is (like David once was), trying to hold on to it, yet I find her decisions revolting. The author keeps looking inside the mind of David but it is the inside of Lousy’s mind that interests me and she stays a riddle, an unanswered question.

I know I’m supposed to talk about sub-themes – love for animals, attitudes towards sex, how ones’ writings reflect the change in opinions; but these details are all giving tone to same depressive question – the question of the meaning of life.

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