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Deeply flawed and confoundingly complex, David Lurie is about as frustrating a character as readers are likely to encounter in a novel. He is selfish, egotistical, and largely driven by his sexual desires, regardless of whom he hurts or exploits. He’s also vain and reckless and, despite being highly intelligent, lets his flaws lead him to his state of disgrace. Nevertheless, David remains resistant to change, both personally and in the world around him, and uses his age of fifty-two to justify his reluctance to grow. What is likely to frustrate readers most, however, is that David isn’t all bad, and he does in fact evolve throughout the novel. Through Bev Shaw, David learns to extend love and compassion to animals, and through his daughter, Lucy, whom he clearly loves and tries to help in his own way, David learns how he pushed his student, Melanie, into having sex. Still, just as readers may begin to root for David, he reverts to his old ways, secretly pursuing Melanie and again seeking out a prostitute to satisfy his needs. Like Lucifer in Byron’s poem “Lara,” David acts on impulses and, as the narrator states, is “[n]ot a bad man but not good either.” Interestingly, David tells his students during his lesson on “Lara” that they’re asked not to condemn Lucifer but instead, are invited to try to understand and even sympathize with him. Whether David evokes condemnation or sympathy, or a bit of both, is a question each reader must ponder.