As I mentioned yesterday, I have been supplementing the the critical essays on Disgrace that I have been reading with some reviews of the novel and I would like to use tonight's entry to briefly mention a few of these pieces. One recurring point of interest among the critics I've read recently has been, perhaps not surprisingly, the ways in which Coetzee's novel reflects and comments upon "the unreconciled dilemmas of . . . his country's predicament" (Williams). Trevor Royale, for instance, maintains that Coetzee's "political metaphors are impossible to avoid" while Michael Upchurch praises Disgrace for "admirably [taking] on the malaise of post-Apartheid South Africa." Of particular interest to several critics, notably Gail Caldwell and Stuart M. Kurland, is David Lurie's increasingly obsolescent position in the country. For both Caldwell and Kurland, the protagonist's status as an academic is especially important in its foregrounding of the inability of Western European values to make sense of post-Apartheid South Africa. The fact that, "from the moment of his arrival" in the Eastern Cape, "Lurie's intellectual tools - his scholarly pursuits, his interminable irony - are worse than useless" (Caldwell 1), highlights "the deep, unresolved conflicts of race, sex, and class" in the author's homeland as well as the widening gap between David's generation and that of his daughter (Kurland). Thus, for Michael Morris, David Lurie embodies the older generation's "responses to the dispassionate, unforgiving tide of history" in a nation where "all codes of behavior for people, black and white, have become perverted and twisted" (Grant). In the end, Coetzee's novel is a "towering" (Higgins) testament to the need for human perseverance even if, as Laurence Phelan suggests, it amounts to "a defeated acceptance of the new world order."
For tomorrow: Read another essay.
Caldwell, Gail. Rev. of Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee. The Boston Globe. 14 Nov. 1999: P1+.
Grant, Katie. "A Very Foreign Country." Rev. of Disgrace, by J . M. Coetzee. The Spectator 10 July 1999.
Higgins, Charlotte. "Booker's Best Six." Mail and Guardian 23 May 2008.
Kurland, Stuart M. Rev. of Ravelstein, by Saul Bellow, Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee, and The Human Stain, by Philip Roth. Academe. July/August 2001.
Morris, Michael. "Coetzee on Shortlist for Booker Prize." Cape Argus 23 Sept. 1999.
Phelan, Laurence. "More Sinned Against Than Sinning." Rev. of Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee. The Independent 23 April 2000.
Royle, Trevor. "Braving Cape Fear." Rev. of Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee. The Sunday Herald 18 July 1999.
Upchurch, Michael. "Deserving Acclaim: Our Critic Closes The Book on '99 With His Top Ten Picks." The Seattle Times. 26 Dec. 1999.
Williams, Stephen. Rev. of Discharge (sic), by J. M. Coetzee. African Business Nov. 1999.