J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace: Eros, (Dis)grace, & the Body

Shadi Neimneh


This paper looks at the problematic of the body in Coetzee’s novel Disgrace. It argues that the novel’s protagonist is initially driven by eros, impulsive sexual desires beyond his control. However, Lurie’s conception of the body changes in the course of the novel from one dominated by eros to an ethical one associated with (dis)honor and (dis)grace. Rather than a self-centered eros, Lurie’s new awareness of the body is one based on our essential embodiment and the humiliations of dying and ageing. This is why his new understanding of the body, which is the result of a change in his personality, makes him care about the body of the other. Lurie spends much time trying to "honor" the bodies of dead dogs or simply spare them from the disgrace of dying. My reading of the novel explores an ethical conception of the body in Coetzee’s novel. Already a contested political site, the body in Coetzee’s novel emerges as an ethically (and psychoanalytically) nuanced one.  



Coetzee, Post-Apartheid-South African Literature, Body, Eros, Ethics, (Dis)grace

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.2n.2p.172


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