When reading the final lines of J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, at the point when David Lurie gives up his dog to death, there comes a certain sense of mystery. Why would this disgraced former college professor give up to death the only creature that appeared to show him unconditional love? The scene is chilling in its way and is a challenge to the reader. However, if read alongside Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse, a certain sense can be made of Lurie’s decision. Indeed, with Barthes in mind, Lurie’s decision to give up the maimed dog to death is really an act of love — love of a certain kind, built in part on Barthes’s notions of tenderness and delicacy.


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pp. 149-161
Launched on MUSE
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