By Patrick Hayes
Philip Roth is greatly stated as one of many defining authors within the literature and tradition of post-war the US. but he has lengthy been a polarising determine and all through his lengthy profession he has received the disapproval of a very different diversity of public moralists -- together with, it will look, the Nobel Prize committee. faraway from looking to make Roth a extra palatable author, Patrick Hayes argues that Roth's curiosity in transgressing opposed to the 'virtue racket', as one in every of his characters positioned it, defines his value. putting the vehemence and unruliness of human passions on the center of his writing, Roth is the main refined exponent of a line of considering that descends from Nietzsche and which values the humanities for his or her potential to scrutinise lifestyles in an extra-moral manner. Philip Roth: Fiction and Power explores the intensity and richness of perception that Roth's fiction thereby generates, and defines what's at stake in his problem to widely-held assumptions concerning the moral price of literature. in addition to studying how Roth emerged as a author and his major traces of impact, it considers his impression on questions on the character and cost of tragedy, the relevance of artwork to existence, the connection among artwork and the subconscious, the concept that of the writer, the assumption of a literary canon, and the way fiction can remove darkness from America's advanced post-war historical past. it is going to attraction not just to readers of yank literature, yet to a person attracted to why literature issues.
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Additional info for Philip Roth: Fiction and Power
The other major “happy problem” Roth highlighted in “The Hurdles of Satire” was the phenomenon of the mass media itself, and here it will be useful to distinguish Roth’s approach, and that of the New Liberalism more broadly, from the critique of mass culture available in the 1950s from the philosophers and sociologists of the Frankfurt School. Marxist in orientation and scarred by direct experience of totalitarianism in Europe, Frankfurt School intellectuals tended to think about mass culture in political terms as part of a more generally repressive state apparatus.
More telling than all these signs of the disturbing new social character Brenda embodies is Roth’s grimly ironic portrayal of how her inner loneliness poisons her sexual relationship with Neil. Brenda may seem sexually liberated, but the libidinous realm she and suburban America together open up to Neil is a false paradise. 17 Finally, Brenda plays the trump-card of allowing her diaphragm to be discovered, an act perfectly calculated to manipulate not only her mother’s outraged envy, but also her loving father’s compensatory promise of a new coat (she also thereby gets rid of the now-redundant Neil).
His novels set up a twofold relationship between fiction and power, both in the sense that they are themselves actions that command great intensity, and in the sense that they are symbolic forms that scrutinize life in a way that competes with other forms of discourse. Having drawn out what I regard as the fundamental challenge of Roth’s oeuvre, the chapters that follow will start to tell a much more nuanced story. 47 An opening 47 The argument that runs through this book therefore diverges from Mark McGurl’s recent claim that Roth’s fiction is best understood as shaped by, rather than resistant to, those normative ideas about literary value that academic institutions in general, and creative writing programs in particular, did so much to influence in postwar America.
Philip Roth: Fiction and Power by Patrick Hayes