Graham 2003 Unspeakable

Title Information

Author: Lucy Valerie Graham

Title: Reading the Unspeakable

Subtitle: Rape in J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace

Journal: Journal of Southern African Studies

Volume: 29

Issue: 2

Year: June 2003

Pages: 433-444

ISSN: 0305-7070 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1465-3893 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | South African History | Representations: Literature / J.M. Coetzee

Full Text

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Additional Information

Author: Author's Personal Website,

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 post-apartheid context. I argue that the novel performs a subversion of 'black peril' narrative, and propose 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.« (Source: Journal of Southern African studies)


  Introduction (p. 433)
  Rape and Race After Apartheid (p. 434)
  Reading Past 'the Peril': Self-reflexivity and Subversion (p. 435)
  The Double Bind: Rape, Colonial Culture and Pornography (p. 440)
  Conclusions (p. 443)

Reprint: Graham, Lucy V. »Reading the Unspeakable: Rape in J.M. Coetzee’s DisgraceBody, Sexuality, and Gender: Versions and Subversions in African Literatures. Vol. 1. Edited by Flora Veit-Wild et al. Amsterdam 2005: 255-267.

Wikipedia: J. M. Coetzee: Disgrace (novel)

Added: December 27, 2005 – Last updated: December 20, 2014