The serious, the comic, and the satiric all mingle in the work of this major American novelist.
Roth has enjoyed critical acclaim from the beginning and attracted a vast popular audience with the landmark novel Portnoy's Complaint. The reasons why are clear in this lively, comprehensive treatment of Roth and his fiction.
Paterson and Nance deal first with Roth's personal life, drawing upon a recent interview with the writer, while treating the public reputation as well. The authors then explore Roth's central theme of the individual's rebellion against stifling family constraints, paying particular attention to Goodbye, Columbus, Letting Go, When She Was Good, Portnoy's Complaint, My Life as a Man, The Professor of Desire, and The Ghost Writer.
Roth is also concerned with the artist in America, whom he sees as a lustful rebel haunted by an idealized image of himself as a "civilized" professor of literature. Paterson and Nance show that the satirical Our Gang and The Great American Novel are based on Roth's keen disillusionment with "the great American Dream."
Finally, they sum up Roth's importance as a writer of fiction, literary critic, satirist, social observer, and masterful renderer of the vernacular. Philip Roth is unique for his ability to probe the American consciousness and reveal its fundamental conflicts.
Co-written with Guinevera A. Nance.