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American Pastoral (The American Trilogy #1)

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  36,620 Ratings  ·  2,532 Reviews
Pulitzer Prize Winner (1998)

In American Pastoral, Philip Roth gives us a novel of unqualified greatness that is an elegy for all the twentieth century's promises of prosperity, civic order, and domestic bliss. Roth's protagonist is Seymour 'Swede' Levov - a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father's Newark g
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Paperback, 432 pages
Published March 5th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Caleb Tankersley
Jul 23, 2012 Caleb Tankersley rated it it was ok
You figure "hey, it's Philip Roth. All sorts of awards. Might as well read his Pulitzer Prize winner. Can't be half bad, can it? can't be that bad. He's got other good stuff. This one must be good, too."

American Pastoral defies logic with its terrible, terrible writing. This was one of the most boring, most difficult to force myself through books I've ever read. Roth has clearly become more of an old man, rambling on and on about the good ole days of Newark, America, the countryside, glovemakin
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Samadrita
A quick perusal of my 'in-by-about-America' shelf will reveal a wide variety of titles ranging from popular fiction by the likes of Stephen King to the brand of post-modernist razzmatazz by the wonderfully perplexing Pynchon. Yet none of those books seem as American to me as American Pastoral is. Forget all the Great American Novels which swoop down on some of the 'Great American Issues' (this term is my invention yes!) like the Great Depression, racism, slavery, brutal and merciless killing of ...more
William1
Apr 19, 2014 William1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, us, 20-ce
The book starts off as an homage to a man the narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, looked up to as a child because of his athletic achievements in local sports: Seymour Levov, the "Swede." It also presents itself in the early going as an homage to the so-called "greatest generation." But this opening is deceptive. For the closer we come to the Swede and his family the more we see his tragic flaws of character. Perhaps his most pervasive flaw is to be a nonthinker, a man for the most part without a deep i ...more
Tuckova
Mar 11, 2011 Tuckova rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer
I didn't finish it. I realized that life is probably too short, and certainly I read too slowly, to spend another minute with Philip Roth. He's Jewish, did you know? JEWISH. Also, he is a man. Men have penises, did you know? PENISES! that are very important and special self-starting things, and when they don't work it is an AMERICAN TRAGEDY, and when they do, well they just do stuff and we observe all of that with some very pretty sentences that almost distract a person from how we're basically ...more
CK
Oct 08, 2007 CK rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
OK let me just say that I am so. excited. about this book. My friend Cal recommended it to me a while back, and I finally got around to it. OH MY GOSH I've been missing out on Philip Roth! He is now my new favorite author. I know that's a rash judgment to make based on one book, but it's just that good.

Cal and I love a lot of the same books for entirely different reasons, which is fun. To put it simplistically (which I hate to do), Cal gets more excited about story / character development and I
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Jr Bacdayan
Mar 07, 2016 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it
I read an article about a year ago that supposedly describes Philip Roth’s rituals every time they announce a new Nobel Prize winner for Literature. It allegedly goes something like every year he travels to his agent’s office in New York awaiting the precious call. And every year it doesn’t come so he goes back home to Connecticut with his head down. This is all merely gossip, but I think that if this were true, it really reflects the attitude of what many people say is his magnum opus.

This is
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matt

The reason there is "shattering" shelf in my book list is because of a professor I had back in undergrad a million years ago. Her name was Marjorie, and she was great- smart as hell, kind, maternal, worldly. Her specialty was Chinese philosophy and Feminism. I think she had a bad go on a stairwell or something and she fractured her leg. She was on sick leave for several months as her bones reset and she basically learned to walk again.

When she got back (we were on friendly terms throughout, ev
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brain
Jan 20, 2008 brain rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: David Koresh, Roger Clemens, my asshole neighbor
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brad
Feb 12, 2016 Brad rated it really liked it
T. S. Eliot said it clearer.

But, I will grudgingly admit, there were a lot of things to love about this novel, even if I never fell IN love with it.

What I liked most was the transformation of all these identical events from "all-surface" from the beginning to the nearly mad-ramblings of internal monologue by the end. There was no sharp delineation. It was like I was being boiled alive like a lobster, learning that all the good and true things of the world are, in fact, illusion and subterfuge, e
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Ilenia Zodiaco
Cosa c'è da aggiungere se non questo?

"Come penetrare nell'intimo della gente? Era una dote o una capacità che non possedeva. Non aveva, semplicemente, la combinazione di quella serratura. Prendeva per buono chi lanciava i segnali della bontà. Prendeva per leale chi lanciava i segnali della lealtà. Prendeva per intelligente chi lanciava i segnali dell'intelligenza. E fino a quel momento non era riuscito a vedere dentro sua figlia, non era riuscito a vedere dentro sua moglie, non era riuscito a ve
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Seth
Jul 10, 2007 Seth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clearly a lot of research went into this book. I only wish Roth hadn’t been so compelled to show off every single trinket of minutiae, arcania, and esoterica (yes, I invent words when necessary) that he could acquire relating to the glove-making industry in New Jersey.

The book is unquestionably too long, and the political allegory can feel a bit oppressive as one strives to believe in characters that remain just short of plausible (excepting a few bit players, such as the bullying heart surgeon
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Tony
Aug 08, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam, u-s-lit
Nathan Zuckerman, Philip Roth's alter ego, appears here, a novelist like Roth, but once known as a single-minded kid searching the neighborhood for a grape to burst. Unlike Serenus Zeitblom, however, Zuckerman knows when to exit and let the story speak. That grape.

That grape is Seymour Levov, The Swede, because he does not look Jewish. The Swede was a star athlete, and followed into his father's glove-making business. He will become a multi-millionaire, marry a Miss New Jersey, own the old house
...more
James
Sep 09, 2008 James rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gerald Floman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandra
Sep 20, 2012 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, usa
E' il primo libro di Philip Roth che leggo e di sicuro non sarà l'ultimo.
Il romanzo ha una struttura narrativa basata su flashback dentro flasback, che a volte rendono difficoltosa la lettura, ma mai pesante nè noiosa.
Una scrittura meravigliosa, nella quale neppure una parola è inappropriata né un pensiero ridondante.
La storia è narrata dallo scrittore Nathan Zuckerman, "alter ego" di Roth, che nel 1995 incontra un suo vecchio compagno di scuola, Seymour Levov detto lo Svedese, un ebreo ameri
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Wynne
Mar 10, 2009 Wynne rated it did not like it
This is the most self-indulgent, pointless book I have ever read. I would string together a series of poorly crafted run-on sentences to attempt to describe this terrible work, but then I would be simply imitating Roth.

I wish that I had the hours that it took me to read this book back. I also wish that Roth's editor would come to my apartment so that I could punch her/him in the face. An utterly pointless story coupled with, as aforementioned, ridiculously self-indulgent and dense prose, made t
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El
Back in late 2004 I had a lot of things happening: I had just gone through a significant break-up in October of that year, I had a bit of an uncomfortable situation with a not-so-secret-admirer sniffing around where I worked at the time, and I was in the early stages of a new relationship that I wasn't sure I wanted to even be a relationship. That December I was having a hard enough time reading one page, let alone finishing any actual books.

I picked up Philip Roth's The Plot Against America tha
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Fran
Dec 01, 2015 Fran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gdl, alpha2015, task54
A questo punto mi toccherà riconsiderare le cinque stelle attribuite finora.

C'è tutto: il percorso di un uomo, la storia della famiglia e dei singoli componenti e poi la Storia, l'evolversi di una nazione e della sua cultura: il dissolversi del sogno americano.

E' stata una delle riletture più illuminanti mai fatte, esiste davvero il tempo giusto per ciascun libro.
AC
Mar 06, 2013 AC rated it it was amazing
What an astonishing, magnificent book -- and tour de force -- I will leave it to the reader to discover whether it is a tragedy or a comedy...

I listened to this book on audible -- it is read by Ron Silver, the actor -- and his performance is magnificent. The whole felt like a long one-act play.
Kinga
Feb 28, 2015 Kinga rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second, after Nemesis, book by Roth. Clearly, I read them the wrong way round, as ‘The American Pastoral’ is the original 'Nemesis'. It’s the same story of an all-round American Golden Boy broken and destroyed, although here it’s women who do the breaking and destroying. The Swede, our Golden Boy is undone first by his daughter and then by his wife. But then he remarries and has three sons and life is good and wholesome again. It’s almost comical the way every single woman in this book is res ...more
Lucrezia
Feb 01, 2015 Lucrezia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Rimane il fatto che, in ogni modo, capire la gente non è vivere. Vivere è capirla male, capirla male e male e poi male e, dopo un attento riesame, ancora male. Ecco come sappiamo di essere vivi: sbagliando. Forse la cosa migliore sarebbe dimenticare di aver ragione o torto sulla gente e godersi semplicemente la gita. Ma se ci riuscite... Beh, siete fortunati."

Philip Roth è entrato di gran carriera nella schiera degli scrittori americani che rispetto a di fronte al quale non posso che tacere e a
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Greta tra le righe
Ci ho messo parecchio tempo per riuscire a digerire (e non credo di esserci ancora riuscita) "Pastorale americana". Questo solitamente significa che un libro non mi sia piaciuto moltissimo, ma in questo caso si tratta proprio del contrario: non so da quanto tempo non mi capitava un romanzo talmente bello, talmente denso, duro, incisivo da non permettermi di leggere in maniera troppo spedita, perché ogni pagina, ogni paragrafo aveva bisogno di essere masticato, assimilato, indagato e trattenuto a ...more
Steve
Apr 09, 2015 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
As I neared the end of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, I couldn’t help but recall Henry James’s tag about Russian novels being “loose and baggy monsters,” and how I might apply that description to Roth’s effort. This is my third Roth (Goodbye Columbus and Everyman being the other two), and my least favorite. Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite a read, a sheer avalanche of words, emotions, history, characters, and glove making. There’s a real whiteness-of-the-whale accumulation of details here that s ...more
Reese
Mar 17, 2010 Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-the-best
Consider Einstein's definition of "insanity," selected by 12,209 Goodreads readers as one of their favorite quotations: "Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Chutzpah: Pointing out the incompleteness of a genius's definition. Nevertheless, I'm proposing the inclusion of the words "in a laboratory." Yes, we often get nowhere by repeatedly doing what doesn't work. Meet Roth's (or Nate Zuckerman's) Seymour Levov, who desperately wants recollection and ...more
Glenn Sumi
Wow. What a magnificent, overwritten, powerful, inventive, angry and necessary book. I am stunned into submission and admiration.
Review to follow after I read something much, much lighter.
Vale
Cosa sei, tu? Lo sai? Tu sei quello che è sempre lì a cercare di minimizzare le cose. Sempre lì che si sforza di essere moderato. Mai dire la verità, se credi che possa ferire i sentimenti di qualcuno. Sempre pronto ai compromessi.

Seymour Levov , "lo Svedese", rappresenta il viso bello dell'America; l'assunto secondo il quale l'uomo abbia diritto alla felicità nella vita, come riporta la Costituzione americana, e che lo Stato si debba prodigare verso questo alto principio.
Seymour è alto, biondo,
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Gabriele
[febbraio 2013]
Il mio commento tecnico su "Pastorale americana" suonerebbe circa come un "Dio mio, Philip Roth!" e potremmo chiuderla qui, però forse è meglio dire qualcosa in più.

Questo è il tipo di libro di 400 e passa pagine che quando lo chiudi ne senti già la mancanza, nonostante l'averci passato già tante ore (notturne, magari) sopra. Roth sa scrivere, Roth scrive bene, Roth dipinge con le parole, Roth sorprende, Roth fa un uso del flashback e del flashforward da rabbrividire, Roth ti scio
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Nelson Zagalo
Um retrato poderoso do que a sociedade etiqueta como normalidade, provocante e por vezes muito intenso, servido por um fluxo de informação que converge múltiplas dimensões e contextos que nos arrebatam e envolvem no mundo de Roth que é também o nosso.

A base para esta viagem, cheia de fricções, surge no seio de uma família americana dotada de uma moral consagrada pelos media, ele — desportista de liceu e muito popular — ela — miss estado federal e muito atraente —, a viverem num enorme lote de te
...more
João Carlos
Oct 02, 2015 João Carlos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2014, favorites, 2014best

Philip Roth (n. 1933)

O livro “Pastoral Americana” do escritor norte-americano Philip Roth (n. 1933) foi editado em 1997 - é o primeiro volume da denominada Trilogia Americana, juntamente com “Casei com um Comunista” e “A Mancha Humana” - e tem como narrador o seu alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman.
Zuckerman dá voz a Seymour Irving Levov, mais conhecido por “Sueco”, um jovem “perfeito”, alegre e fisicamente atraente, com um comportamento irrepreensível na escola, nas actividades desportivas e sociais, f
...more
Carla
Jun 22, 2015 Carla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Penetrar no interior das pessoas era uma arte ou capacidade que ele não possuía. Não conhecia a combinação daquela fechadura. Para ele, quem desse sinais de bondade, era bom. Quem desse sinais de lealdade, era leal. Quem desse sinais de inteligência, era inteligente. E assim, ele não conseguira penetrar no íntimo da filha, da mulher, da sua única amante; provavelmente nem sequer conseguira começar a penetrar no seu próprio íntimo. O que era ele, despido de todos os sinais que emitia? As pessoas ...more
Arwen56
Era impossibile farlo, naturalmente, ma mi sarebbe piaciuto aver percorso questo libro, già la prima volta, sapendo esattamente quale ne sarebbe stato il ritmo e l’intimo passo.

Infatti, seguirne senza fretta l’andare e, soprattutto, il girovagare è, per così dire, la condicio sine qua non per intenderlo.

Questo è il mio modesto consiglio a chiunque voglia accostarsi a questo romanzo. Poi, ognuno trarrà ovviamente le proprie conclusioni, nonché le proprie valutazioni, in positivo o in negativo a
...more
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Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained early literary fame with the 1959 collection Goodbye, Columbus (winner of 1960's National Book Award), cemented it with his 1969 bestseller Portnoy's Complaint, and has continued to write critically-acclaimed works, many of which feature his fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. The Zuckerman novels began with The Ghost Writer in 1979, and inc ...more
More about Philip Roth...

Other Books in the Series

The American Trilogy (3 books)
  • I Married a Communist (The American Trilogy, #2)
  • The Human Stain (The American Trilogy, #3)

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“You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion. ... The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that -- well, lucky you.” 322 likes
“He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach - that it makes no sense.” 235 likes
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