Well, it's been a busy few days for me. Between grading several classes worth of student essays, reading a significant chunk of A Canticle for Liebowitz for another one of my classes, and teaching for more than nine hours a day, I haven't had a whole lot of time to devote to working on my dissertation, but I did read a few brief reviews, figuring reading something small each day would be better than not reading anything.
Of the reviews I've read these past couple of days, I found Peter Ho Davies's "Truth and Consequences - J.M. Coetzee's Rigerous Tale of Guilt and Regret in South Africa," from the Chicago Tribune, to be the most interesting. In his reading of Disgrace, Davies asserts that David Lurie's "disgrace began much earlier than the public humiliation of the denounced affair" between the academic and Melanie Isaacs. By locating the beginning of Lurie's downfall prior to the opening of the novel, Davies suggests that the professor's disgrace is not, as quite a few reviewers have asserted, the result of an act of foolish Romantic bravado, but rather evidence that Lurie has, in fact, been complicit in "the long history of exploitation" to which Farodia Rassool refers during the university disciplinary meeting (Coetzee 53).
One of the stranger readings of Disgrace that I have come across is that of Mark Shechner, who describes Melanie as "the usual coed fatale," depicting the young woman as a "predator" preying on Lurie. Otherwise, the reviews I read are fairly standard interpretations of the novel. Oscar C. Villalon, for instance, reads Lurie's development in the novel from a self-centered academic to a (somewhat) compassionate veterinarian's assistant as suggestive of South Africa's potential to heal after apartheid while Elizabeth Gleick and Bob Hoover interpret the book as painfully bleak and unremittingly hopeless in its depiction of the nascent post-apartheid state.
For tomorrow: Read another essay or read a bit of The Rights of Desire.
Coetzee, J. M. Disgrace. New York: Penguin, 1999.
Davies, Peter Ho. "Truth and Consequences - J.M. Coetzee's Rigorous Tale of Guilt and Regret in South Africa." Rev. of Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee. Chicago Tribune 28 Nov. 1999. 3.
Gleick, Elizabeth. "Cries of the Displaced - A Bleak but Brilliant Novel of South Africa." Rev. of Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee. Time 29 Nov. 1999. 82.
Hoover, Bob. Rev. of Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 7 Nov. 1999. Available online.
Shechner, Mark. "Post-Apartheid Trauma Sidetracked." The Buffalo News. Rev. of Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee. 28 Nov. 1999. F6+.
Villalon, Oscar C. "Hard Truths in a New South Africa." Rev. of Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee. San Francisco Chronicle 28 Nov. 1999. Available online.