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Apartheid Lingers: Sadism and Masochism in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace

Maryam Beyad and Hossein Keramatfar

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 26, Issue 3, September 2018

Keywords: Deformed individual, existential need, masochism, ontological insecurity, sadism, sanity

Published on: 28 Sep 2018

Coetzee's Disgrace narrates the plights of individuals in their attempts to cope with the existential and social forces to maintain their precarious existence. Driven by the imperative to sustain their sanity and to achieve a sense of belonging, these individuals attempt to break free from their isolated existence and relate themselves to others. In fact, relating one to others and transcending one's separateness is one of human being's existential needs that has to be satisfied. This paper suggests that this existential need combines with social realities of South Africa and all the attempts to satisfy this existential need never result in a healthy attachment. This study argues that the individuals in post-apartheid world of Disgrace, in their attempts to transcend their isolation, reveal sadistic and masochistic aspects of themselves in their interpersonal relations. Their ontological insecurity, rooted in structural inadequacies of the society, compels them to establish unhealthy dependence on others. As they tie their survival to some unproductive ways of relatedness to others, they turn into what Coetzee calls deformed individuals. Therefore, sanity, which depends on productive satisfaction of existential needs, becomes absent, insanity and deformity prevails, and the prospect of a sane society recedes.

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

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