JM Coetzee’s Booker Prize-winning novel “Disgrace” is a story of misplaced chivalry and its repercussions. The dynamics of traditional man-woman relationship is laid bare when the woman rejects man’s protective interest to assert her individuality.
Professor David Lurie’s loneliness and libido drives him to the arms of his pupil Melanie with devastating consequences. He chooses to be sacked from the university when Melanie files a complaint against him. Then he goes to his daughter Lucy’s place far away and during his stay Lucy is subjected to a horrific crime. Both Melanie and Lucy reject the protection offered by Lurie. Although Lurie is disgraced twice, Coetzee doesn’t make him a hateful figure, rather the reader’s sympathy lies with him.
Another entangled theme of the novel is that physical gratification can never relieve one of loneliness.
The historic injustice to Africans and their revenge, women’s choice of abortion, euthanasia and many other issues too appear in the narrative, making it a serious literary fiction. Coetzee’s graceful use of language makes it a delightful read.