Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Male-Male Relationships in J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace (1)/Man-Manverhoudings in J.M. Coetzee Se Disgrace

Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Male-Male Relationships in J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace (1)/Man-Manverhoudings in J.M. Coetzee Se Disgrace

Article excerpt

Abstract

Kochin (2002:8) makes the following interesting observation regarding the life of the main character, David Lurie, in Coetzee's novel, "Disgrace" (1999), and his observation will be explored in detail when analysing the novel, and in particular the presentation of masculinities: "Lurie has no relationship of depth with men. His one effort is with Isaacs, Melanie's father, and seems to be more of a quest for the sources of Melanie's beauty than the expression of a desire for friendship with a man." The focus of my investigation is on male-male relationships and the way in which they impact on the other characters in the novel. What contribution does the novel make to the debate on masculinity within the context of South African literary studies?

Key concepts:

Coetzee, J.M.: Disgrace male friendships male-male relationships masculinity

Opsomming

Kochin (2002:8) maak die volgende insiggewende opmerking oor die lewe van die hoofkarakter, Dawd Lurie, in Coetzee se roman, "Disgrace" (1999). Sy uitgangspunt sal in meer detail ondersoek word in hierdie bespreking, en in die besonder sy voorstelfing van manlikheid: "Lurie het geen diepgaande verhouding met ander mans nie. Sy een poging is wel met Isaacs, Melanie se vader, maar dit wil voorkom asof dit meer 'n soektog na die redes vir Melanie se skoonheid is, as die begeerte om vriende met 'n ander man te wees." Die klem val in my ondersoek op die man-manverhoudings in die roman en die invloed daarvan op die ander karakters in die roman. Watter bydrae lewer die roman tot die debat oor manlikheid binne die konteks van die Suid-Afrikaanse letterkunde?

Kernbegrippe:

Coetzee, JM.: Disgrace man-manverhoudings manlike vriendskappe manlikheid

1. Introduction

J.M. Coetzee's eighth novel, Disgrace, (2) was published in 1999 and earned him his second Booker Prize. In the editorial of a special edition of the journal scrutiny2, which deals almost exclusively with Disgrace, Leon de Kock (2002) observes that, "not since the aftermath of an earlier metatext by Coetzee, Foe, have we seen such multiples of invested, engaged and argumentative critical writing about a South African author". Some of the readings of the novel have alluded to the theme of masculinity that forms the basis of this article and focus on Lurie's "mid-life male recklessness" (Ram, 1999), his "taste for exotic women" (Horrell, 2002), his concern as a father for his daughter (Azoulay, 2002) and on him as "a kind of representative man" (Kunkel, 1999) when he is reduced to basically the same level as the dogs, as "a packet of flesh without transcendent meaning" (Kunkel, 1999).

Kochin makes the following interesting observation regarding the life of the main character, David Lurie. It will be explored in detail when analysing the novel, and in particular the presentation of masculinities: "Lurie has no relationship of depth with men. His one effort is with Isaacs, Melanie's father, and seems to be more of a quest for the sources of Melanie's beauty than the expression of a desire for friendship with a man" (Kochin, 2002:8).

2. Masculinity and friendship

In his essay entitled, "Friendship, intimacy and sexuality", Messner (2001:253-265) examines the issue of male friendship extensively. According to him women usually have "deep, intimate, meaningful, and lasting friendships", whereas men have "a number of shallow, superficial, and unsatisfying acquaintances" (Messner, 2001:253)--which I find a somewhat sexist generalisation. The main reason for this shallow nature of men's friendships is the way in which men are brought up. They are taught to be homophobic, not to express their emotions and to be competitive towards other men. Men enjoy each other's company during sporting activities, for example, because within the framework of such activities there is no threat to what Messner (2001:254) describes as their "fragile masculine identities". …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.