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Title:Reading the Unspeakable: Rape in J.M. Coetzee's 'Disgrace'
Author:Graham, Lucy V.
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Literature, Mass Media and the Press
Women's Issues
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
About person:John Michael Coetzee (1940-)ISNI
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3557371
Abstract:Of Daphne Rooke's 'Mittee', J.M. Coetzee writes: 'to her credit, Rooke does not indulge in the 'ne plus ultra' of colonial horror fantasies, the rape of a white woman'. Since he is evidently aware of the volatile nature of this subject, what compels Coetzee to portray the rape of a white woman by three black men in 'Disgrace'? One may well ask whether ethical scriptings of interracial rape are possible in a context where representations of sexual violence, under the old regime, supported racial injustice. Unsurprisingly, Coetzee's latest novel has been accused of racism, of feeding national hysteria, and of reflecting white anxieties in the postapartheid context. This paper argues that the novel performs a subversion of 'black peril' narrative, and proposes that the hidden stories of the characters Melanie and Lucy have relevance in the South African context and have unavoidable implications for the reader of 'Disgrace'. Ref., sum. [Journal abstract]