A while back, I blogged about some issues in Coetzee criticism. As I’m continuing work on my own essay about Disgrace, I’ve come up with a list of questions that I think every critic should be able to answer about the book before writing on it. These aren’t the only relevant questions, of course, nor does answering them constitute criticism proper. But they’re the prerequisites of criticism; if you can’t take and defend a position on each of them, you haven’t thought hard enough about the novel and its tensions to offer a coherent reading of the work as a whole.
The questions, in loose order of dependence (but definitely out of textual order):
- Why does Lurie give up his job by refusing to defend himself before the inquiry?
- Why does Lurie sleep with Bev, and she with him?
- How are we to treat Lurie’s opera?
- Why does Lurie give up the dog at the end of the novel?
- In what sense, if any, is Bev Shaw’s (and Lurie’s) euthanasia of the dogs an ethical/merciful/loving act?
- Why does Lucy refuse to report her rape or otherwise pursue legal remedy for it?
- Why does Lucy remain on the farm after the attack?
- What is the relationship between the two rapes?
[Note: Links from each question above point to the post with my answer to it.]
As I say, certainly not the only questions one could or should ask about the novel. But they’re crucial because they address the specific content of Coetzee’s allegorical meaning. It’s not enough to claim that the book is, for example, an allegory of South African society after apartheid (which is to say almost nothing at all, yet seems to satisfy many critics); you need to work out the tenor of that allegory. And it turns out that that’s a difficult and fraught thing to do, because it requires you to take positions on questions like these about which the novel is ambivalent or ambiguous or flatly contradictory. But that’s why we get paid the big bucks, isn’t it?
My own answers to each of these in the coming days …
Write a literary essay on Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
Novel:Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
Be aware that you will be writing about a novel, which in its broadest sense is any extended fictional narrative almost always in prose, in which the representation of character is often the focus. Good authors use the elements of fiction, such as plot, theme, setting etc. purposefully, with a very clear goal in mind. One of the paths to literary analysis is to discover what the author's purpose is with each of his choices. Avoid the problem that many students have, which is to hold the erroneous assumption that simply retelling what happened in detail is good enough (no, it is not). Plot summary is necessary, but not the intended goal in a literary essay.
In addition to being written at college level, your essay must meet the following criteria.
- Include an introduction with a clear thesis statement, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
- Use specific supporting details from the book and at least two from outside sources.Go to the Miami Dade Databases (not Google) for your sources.
The following are not acceptable sources:
- Class Lecture Notes
- Study Guides (SparkNotes, Cliff Notes, BookRags etc.)
- Wikipedia/ Encyclopedias
- Popular Magazines (People,Glamouretc.)
- Popular information websites such as about.com or Ask.com
- Personal Blogs
Why not? Because for one, they are not original sources. Encyclopedias and textbooks are useful to provide an overview or introduction to a topic for complete beginners. These are meant to get you started on a subject. They are not research documents.Wikipedia: Many instructors forbid reference to Wikipedia at all. Some professors do allow its use, and the use of encyclopedias in general, but don't do it. It's generally reliable for checking routine facts and extremely specialized topics, but Wikipedia, actually all encyclopedias suffer from the problem that they are not a primary sources. Wikipedia has the added problem that although it is working on correcting errors, it still has weak quality control. It is susceptible to deliberate sabotage, vandalism, even censorship. So don't use it if you're not familiar enough with the subject matter to spot biases or errors, and don't cite it in any academic paper at all.
- Use at leastthree quotesfrom the book.
- When citing your sources, use MLA style for literary essays. It is helpful to keep your handbook open to the MLA tab as you write.
- Minimum 750 words
- Language: This is a composition class -- your writing and grammar count.
I HAVE THE BOOK THAT YOU CAN READ
Its just the first chapter its pretty small