The Mass and Powerlessness

The Will to Uni-potence
By Françoise Neau

The author proposes a reading of the J. M. Coetzee novel, Disgrace (1999). This novel brings up to date, with the analytic force of a literary oeuvre, the Freudian examination of Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, (1921). If “the individual’s lack of freedom” is the “principal phenomenon of group psychology”, how, and with what psychical costs in a post-apartheid South Africa that institutionalizes truth and reconciliation, can individuals, in fiction, and in relation to their gender, race and generation, be rejected by or absorbed into the new “group mind”? What kind of work of disillusion and renunciation must David, the main character, and Lucy, his daughter, undertake, each in their own way, to raise themselves up “to the extent of having a scrap of independence and originality” (Freud, 1921).

  • Coetzee J. M.
  • Disgrace
  • South Africa
  • post-apartheid
  • group psychology
  • masses
  • psychoanalysis
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