by J.M. Coetzee
Disgrace Old Age Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Byron, in the new version, is long dead; Teresa's sole remaining claim to immortality, and the solace of her lonely nights, is the chestful of letters and memorabilia she keeps under her bed, what she calls her reliquie, which her grand-nieces are meant to open after her death and peruse with awe. Is this the heroine he has been seeking all the time? Will an older Teresa engage his heart as his heart is now? (20.51-52)
While he originally intended to write his opera about the middle-aged-but-foxy Byron and his hot affair with a younger woman (projecting much, David?), David changes his mind and writes it about the woman as she ages. This twist takes David by surprise, and it also surprises us to some extent. Is it possible that David is maturing and seeking out women his own age? For more on what's going on with this whole Byron opera, check out "Symbolism."
He sighs. The young in one another's arms heedless, engrossed in the sensual music. No country, this, for old men. He seems to be spending a lot of time sighing. Regret: a regrettable note on which to go out. (21.44)
This moment comes straight out of a poem by William Butler Yeats called "Sailing to Byzantium." The poem begins, "That is no country for old men." The speaker thinks about how "that" country – the one he's sailing away from – is full of young people in love, lying in one another's arms, and he cannot take part in it. This is yet another instance where David realizes he's getting on in years and can't keep going on the way he used to. He has to move on, but it bums him out.
A grandfather. A Joseph. Who would have thought it! What pretty girl can he expect to be wooed into bed with a grandfather? (24.41)
All we're going to say is, we sure hope our grandparents didn't feel that way when they found out we were going to be born. David refers to himself as a "Joseph," referring to the husband of the Virgin Mary who never slept with her but stayed on as a faithful (albeit celibate) companion until his death. That's a nice way of saying "no sex for old people."