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Philip Roth Considered : The Concentrationary Universe of the American Writer - Steven Milowitz

Philip Roth Considered

The Concentrationary Universe of the American Writer

Hardcover Published: 14th December 2000
ISBN: 9780815339571
Number Of Pages: 208

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This book comprehensively surveys Philip Roth's published and unpublished works, focusing on the thematic unity which binds them together: the memory of the Holocaust and the altered universe born of that memory. The Holocaust is understood as the orienting event for Roth's fiction and non-fiction, the force that surrounds the characters and the narratives at all times. Roth's obsession with questions of the Holocaust, questions of responsibility, meaning, and powerlessness, explains his recurring discussion of entrapment, dehumanization, nihilism, guilt, and coercion.
The concentrationary universe of the title is defined, in this work, as not only the universe of camps, but also the universe that exists after the devastation. Moral and philosophical norms are revoked in this new world. Roth's early works are presented on a desolate landscape. The introduction explicates this landscape, specifically by invoking an early play of Roth's, a play which is set in a Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust. This unpublished work introduces the historical period that shapes the visions of Roth's future protagonists.
The next three chapters study Roth's relentless excavation of the dilemmas of fathers, mothers, authority figures, and the inner discord of need and purpose. These seemingly quotidian problems are exacerbated and intensified by the Holocaust's shadowy presence. No relationship, no effort at fulfillment, no action is untempered by history in Roth's varied fictions.
Chapters four and five look directly at Roth's allusions to the Holocaust. They explore, through each of Roth's works, how the Holocaust-thematic -the play of ideology and nihilism-and the Holocaust-pattern -the idea of the past encroaching upon the present -work through Roth's career, informing his readers not only of his fascination with the Holocaust, but of his particularly human way of dealing with it.
The last chapter briefly summarizes the findings of the previous chapter and connects Roth's specific concentrationary universe to the larger world. The linguistic clues of Roth's novels are revealed and investigated, pointing to Roth's celebration of ambiguity and individuality as parts of an imperfect formula for writing and living in the debased aftermath of the Holocaust.

"Recommended especially for upper-division undergraduates." -Choice, April, 2001

Prefacep. ix
Introduction: Now vee may perhaps to begin. Yes?p. 1
The Ghost Writerp. 23
Abraham and Isaacp. 59
Portnovian Dilemmasp. 129
Holocaust Writingp. 147
You Must Not Forget Anythingp. 167
It's All One Book You Write, Anywayp. 195
Postscript: Obligingly Yoursp. 201
Works Citedp. 205
Indexp. 211
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780815339571
ISBN-10: 0815339577
Series: Making the Classics Contemporary
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 14th December 2000
Publisher: GARLAND PUB
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.6 x 15.82  x 2.01
Weight (kg): 0.49
Edition Number: 1