Through a reading of J. M. Coetzee's novel Disgrace this paper discusses the contemporary genre of reading literature in terms of an "ethics of perception." In the fourteen years since its publication the novel has elicited a rich body of commentary and criticism with an ethical edge, often focusing on the unfolding vision or stunted but developing perceptiveness of its uneasy protagonist David Lurie. This path of criticism is paradigmatic of a broader interest in studying literary works as paths to moral philosophical illumination. I discuss how the novel yields to this kind of reading, but also how this path of reading is complicated by its various other features, above all, a plurality of values that may be hard to reconcile and a Christian perspective of grace which is played against the novels secular, intellectual perspective on perceptiveness. I argue that reading Disgrace in terms of any pre-given ethical formula, however compelling, may be problematic considering the nature of Coetzee's authorship.


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pp. 233-255
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