‘Is this the right image of our nation?’ <i>Disgrace</i> and the Seriousness of the Novel

Patrick Hayes

in J.M. Coetzee and the Novel

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199587957
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723292 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

‘Is this the right image of our nation?’ Disgrace and the Seriousness of the Novel

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This chapter explores the way Coetzee engages with another dimension of the form of the novel—the way in which it can be used to represent the deepest concerns of a nation state. With close reference to the aims of the new constitution, it shows that post‐apartheid South Africa places a complex demand on its future by its insistence that both interpretations of the ideal of equal recognition—both the difference‐based demand for social justice, and the concept of abstract human equality—must have a formative influence on its politics. Coetzee responds with great subtlety to the questions posed by the new nation state: this chapter argues for the political importance of the way Disgrace disrupts the surface seriousness of novelistic representation, not least through its extensive portrayal of animal life.

Keywords: nation state; constitution; post‐apartheid; South Africa; equal recognition; social justice; animal life

Chapter.  10951 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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