Disgrace by John Coetzee

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The novel Disgrace by John Coetzee is set in South Africa in a period after apartheid. It dives into the story of David Lurie, a professor of romantic poetry and communications, 52 years of age, and divorced twice. Lurie is under the belief that he lives a comfortable if not a passionless life. He strives to live within his means, both financially and emotionally.

 

He conducts his teaching at the university dutifully despite his position getting minimized. Lurie makes weekly visits to a prostitute, Soraya, and regards himself as happy.

 

With advancing age, Lurie’s attractiveness is diminishing, but he still seeks and seduces a student in his class, Melanie Isaacs. His doing brings forth a string of occurrences that, if anything, leave him disgraced. 

 

Lurie approaches this relationship in a narcissistic and obsessive way, so much that it gets to borderline rape as he ignores Melanie’s refusals to having sex. His car becomes vandalized, his ex-wife ridicules him, and he undergoes harassment from Melanie’s boyfriend. Such actions makes him aware of the knowledge about his relationship among the students in the university.

 

Melanie’s father brings forth a complaint against Lurie. He becomes consequently summoned by the academic committee, where he admits the relationship and shows no apology for it. 

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