Magazine article The Spectator

Pergrine Worsthorne

Magazine article The Spectator

Pergrine Worsthorne

Article excerpt

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (Seeker & Warburg, L14.99). If Black Africans have not yet produced a great masterpiece of their own, they have been the inspiration of two great masterpieces, the first being Conrad's Heart of Darkness about the evils of colonialism, and the second being J. M. Coetzee's Booker Prize-winning Disgrace about the evils of post-colonialism. There is a dreadful symmetry about these two works, for while Conrad's described the depths of depravity into which the whites could be sucked by having too much power over black Africans, Coetzee's describes the equal depths of depravity into which they are now being sucked in South Africa by having too little. Before reading Disgrace I had rather assumed that fears about the fates of whites under black majority rule were proving unfounded. Press reportage suggested much was wrong - crime and corruption - but nothing that time could not cure. …

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