Wednesday, January 05, 2011

J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace

Read Disgrace within weeks, and thoroughly enjoyed J. M. Coetzee's lucid use of language. I think J. M. Coetzee is able to explain the complexity of matters in simple terms, and that is the hallmark of a great novelist.

It came to me that reading a novel set in another country, especially one still warped in its atrocious past, doesn't mean that I would be able to understand its people - I could only sympathise with them. This is, of course, not a statement on the Nobel Prize winner's prowess, neither does it debase the Booker Prize winning novel. Perhaps, what's important about J.M. Coetzee's novels - another I read being the unforgettable "Life & Times of Michael K" - is that it brings his birth land's plight to the readers' attention, and as a result blessings are counted. On another hand, knowing we are all not so different, despite our skin colours and dwellings, knowing that some of us have suffered because of these, yet doing nothing, stabbed some guilt into this quivering heart.

Disgrace's South Africa is portrayed through the eyes of David Lurie, a fifty-two of years South African professor of English. He escapes to his daughter's farm in disgrace from a lecturer-student's relation's scandal, of its consequences he obstinately refuses to protect himself from. And it is during this self-imposed exile, through the humility of rural life, community work, and the lowest form of disgrace in having his daughter raped by a black gang, that he slowly begins to let go. This world, after all, is too complicated for any single man to fully comprehend, to pass judgement on, let alone, to tell another how to live.

I believe, and sense J.M. Coetzee believes too, that a man shall be broken apart, descended to the lowest point of his life, before he can reconstruct to become a better self.

No comments: