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The Human Stain (The American Trilogy #3)

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  23,940 Ratings  ·  1,507 Reviews
It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town an aging Classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would astonish even his most virulent accuser.

Coleman Silk has a secre
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 5th 2001 by Vintage (first published 2000)
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Whitney Heitkamp I like Judy Wallace's answer; and though Nathan never gives a definite answer, I assumed it was written by Arthur Sussman. I also assumed Delphine…moreI like Judy Wallace's answer; and though Nathan never gives a definite answer, I assumed it was written by Arthur Sussman. I also assumed Delphine persuaded him to write it in order to give credibility to her own sanctimonious agenda.(less)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 11, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film
”All he’d ever wanted, from earliest childhood on, as to be free: not black, not even white--just on his own and free. He meant no insult to no one by his choice, nor was he trying to irritate anyone whom he took to be his superior, nor was he staging some sort of protest against his race or hers. He recognized that to conventional people for whom everything was ready-made and rigidly unalterable what he was doing would never look correct. But to dare to be nothing more than correct had never be ...more
Apr 09, 2016 Ahmed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
للحق , الأدب الأمريكي هو أقل الآداب إثارة للاهتمام بالنسبة لي , فلا
يغامرني تجاهه ذلك الفضول القاتل الذي يجبرني على البحث في أعماقه , وباستثناء إدجار آلان بو , لم أجد في تاريخ ذلك الأدب من يستحق أن يمثل لي عظمة خالصة , واعترف أن العيب في ذلك مني أنا , لأني لم أقرأ فيه كفايته .

ولكن هنا أجد نفسي أمام حالة شديدة الخصوصية , حالة من شأنها أن تُجبرني على الاهتمام بذلك الأدب ووضعه على رأس الأولويات , حالة تمثلت في رواية إنسانية من الطراز الرفيع , رواية قد تغير لك مزاجك الشخصي , بل قد تغير لك وجهة نظر ح
Katie Lynch
Sep 03, 2007 Katie Lynch rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: not really anyone
Shelves: yuck
Hey Roth, I know you have a great vocabulary...Just tell me a damn story.

Let me explain: I just read a very positive review of this book stating that Roth has such an expansive vocabulary, and every word seems painstakingly chosen, etc. That is exactly what I hate about this book! A narrative is supposed to flow, not make you resolve to study the dictionary more fastidiously.

For the record, I have a pretty good vocabulary and I thorouoghly enjoy creative uses of the English language. But I des
Nov 06, 2012 Paula rated it did not like it
The author sums it up perfectly on page 81
"You area a verbal master of extroadinary loquatiousness[P. Roth]. So Perspicatios. So fluent. A vocal master of the endless, ostentatious overelaborate sentence."


This book is the Jackson Pollock of our literary time. Just spatter everything all over the page and call it art. Roth goes on and on by using every single adjective he ever learned in his SAT class, in a row, then completely counters every argument he just made, so he can use all the oppo
Ilenia Zodiaco
Ho da pochi minuti terminato la lettura de “La macchia umana” di Philip Roth.
Ci sono quei libri che si insinuano all’interno del tuo consolidato nido di credenze, idee, saperi, pregiudizi, convinzioni - che hai fortificato con fatica e scrupolosa dedizione in vent’anni di scuola, vita familiare, cadute e ripartenze sentimentali - e sai già che non c’è più nulla da fare. Arrivano per scombussolare tutto, tocca ricostruire il castello di carta della tua identità da capo.
Sono libri alteri, sdegno
Paul Bryant
Note to all relevant parties : This book made me laugh and cry. I absolutely fell in love with the characters!


So I watched the movie, and I really shouldn't have. To quote Pope Pius VII, it sometimes makes you wonder if you're on the right planet. Anthony Hopkins plays an extremely white black man! And the ever-crushingly beautiful Nicole Kidman plays an illiterate woman who's a janitor! Yes! And we're supposed to take this seriously! And the actor who plays the young Anthony Hopkins looks ab
Jul 03, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
“The danger with hatred is, once you start in on it, you get a hundred times more than you bargained for. Once you start, you can't stop.”
― Philip Roth, The Human Stain


Reading Roth is almost a spooky, sexual experience. I say that knowing this will sound absurd, trite and probably hyperbolic. But with Roth, his words are imbued with an almost carnal power, a spectral courage, energy and life. IT is like watching an absurdly talented musician do things with an instrument/with sound that bends th
فهد الفهد
Dec 24, 2013 فهد الفهد rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
الوصمة البشرية

عرفت فيليب روث في (سخط)، ولكني تعرفت عليه حقاً هنا، في هذه الرواية المذهلة التي ستهزك من الأعماق، وستلتقي خلالها بشخصية من أعظم الشخصيات التي أنجبها الأدب، (كولمن سيلك) الزنجي الذي تنكر لأصوله ولعائلته، وعاش حياته كلها كرجل أبيض، أبيض إلى درجة أنه ويا للسخرية يستقيل في أواخر عمره من الجامعة بعد اتهامه بالعنصرية، وضد من !!! ضد طالبين زنجيين !!

أمريكا 1998 م، أنظار كل الأمريكيين متجهة نحو البيت الأبيض، فضيحة مونيكا لوينسكي تهز كرسي الرئيس، وفي جامعة أثينا يسقط كرسي الدكتور المحترم ك
Fatema Hassan , bahrain

رواية الوصمة البشرية لفيليب روث - صناعة أمريكية بيتية الصنع ب إمتياز - كسرت النموذج السامي و الموحد للرواية المثالية في نظري، ففي بطن ال صفحة هذه، يوجد أكثر من حبكة تحرك الأحداث والشخصيات و لكن الأهم لكسر النموذج وسلطته التي تهيمن منذ مدة على جميع الروايات.. أن تكون هنالك حبكة تسيطر ليس فقط على هذه الرواية بل على جميع روايات روث، محرك خارجي ومستقل، قد يسميها روث بمفتاحه المربك وله كل الحق بهذه التسمية فلقد صمم ( كوبليه أدبي ) ، ففي شخص الراوي ناثان زوكرمان الذي يلازم روايات روث و يحافظ هنا على م
Feb 17, 2016 Emanuele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dio mio, Roth!
Aug 10, 2007 Lee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
oh, phillip roth! you CARD. you IMP. no one makes me laugh like you.

around this time last year i was on vacation on the cape reading american pastoral, another roth novella of fun and good humor! (read brinda's perfect description for an idea of that one.) i ended up forgetting the book there, with about forty pages left to read, and i never bought a new copy. i didn't care that i hadn't finished it because I WAS SO EXHAUSTED. the book wasn't bad. the book was great. but reading a roth opus is
Andrew Smith
Jan 09, 2015 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in New England, this book tells the story of a college professor accused of making a racist remark in one of his classes. The fact that what follows is patently unfair sets this book up as a commentary on extreme political correctness.

There is a lot of ground covered here - Vietnam, Clinton/Lewinsky, racism and ageing to name a few - and in typical Roth style it is rich, clever, complex and, at times, ranting. Not what I'd call a relaxing read but hugely worthwhile if you're in the mood.
antónio alves
Sep 11, 2016 antónio alves rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O que encontrei neste livro:
. as contradições de uma América capaz de conviver com o pensamento liberal e, ao mesmo tempo, com a hipocrisia do politicamente correto;
. a liberdade e o preço que se paga para conseguirmos ser apenas nós próprios (Homem indivíduo vs Homem social);
. racismo e identidade grupal;
. o Amor e o sexo, mesmo depois dos 70;
. os segredos e a revelação de memórias escondidas, que permitem construir a verdadeira identidade de cada personagem;
. o elemento humano (a "mancha human
Philip Roth at the top of his game. Each time I read one of his books I'm further impressed by his talent.

The Human Stain digs deep into racism and its attendant politics in the 20th century. A light-skinned negro decides to "pass" as white and to do so successfully, he separates himself from his family. He enlists in the Navy as "white", attends college as "white", and marries a white woman as "white". After a long, distinguished career as a college professor and dean, he uses the word "spooks"
May 31, 2016 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
See, I was an enormous fan of the Tony Hopkins/ Nicky Kidman film already. But incredibly, THAT adapatation was just the tip of an iceburg so rich, complex and incredible, as is Philip Roth's masterpiece "The Human Stain." The film fails oh so miserably to fulfill at least 40% of the emotional clout (which is significant and HEAVVYY) famously attributed to this, a gargantuan beauty of a book.

It seems that this late in the year, the magic wand waved by Literature is (constantly and repeatedly) st
Nov 15, 2007 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was disappointing - I expected much more from it. The story details the life of an African American college professor who has been "passing" as white since he was in his late teens. He hid this fact from everyone he knew, including his wife and children. His secret begins to unravel when he refers to two absent students as "spooks." Because the students are black, the remark is deemed racist, when he had actually intended the word to mean "ghosts." The writing is extremely dull and ra ...more
Mar 01, 2013 AC rated it it was amazing
The only Roth I'd ever read was Portnoy, back when it came out (practically), and the Plot Against America - which didn't impress me at all. So I came to this book, which I listened to on audible, with a prejudice against Roth. I didn't like him, thought he was a fake, he didn't "look" like much of a writer to me, etc. etc. I probably wouldn't have gotten very far if I had been reading -- listening being a very different experience. (I do so much driving, that I listen to these things in drive-t ...more
Sep 25, 2007 Darcy rated it really liked it
[warning: spoiler!]

The thing that attracts me about this novel is quite simply how it is told. The narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, is also a character (albeit a relatively minor one although he grows in importance as the story continues). He is not, therefore, omniscient, although this becomes easy to forget. The novel is written as though he were omniscient, and then draws attention to this gap repeatedly at moments where Zuckerman explains who told him what, how he knows certain bits of informatio
Marcello S
Apr 28, 2016 Marcello S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bulimico Roth.
Mi pare quasi innegabile che qui dentro ci sia quanto di meglio il buon Philip abbia scritto (almeno riferendomi ai 5 o 6 letti finora).
Ci sono una miriade di singoli momenti così diretti e illuminanti da lasciarti col fiato corto. Soprattutto nella seconda parte.
Potevano essere cinque stelle ma talvolta la prende così alla larga da diventare quasi insopportabile.
Però gigantesco. [78/100]
Marco Tamborrino
"Nel tentativo, senz'altro ammirevole, di crearsi, aveva l'impressione di essersi rovesciata."

Possiamo dire, non senza un briciolo di presunzione, che il male della società contemporanea sia l'adattamento. Ciò che un essere umano, per costrizione o per sua semplice volontà, ricerca ogni istante della sua vita. Si adatta per sopravviere. Smette di rimpiangere la società passata o smette di idealizzarne una tutta sua dove, al posto delle maldicenze, ci siano rose e fiori. "La macchia umana", ciò c
Vit Babenco
Feb 29, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it really liked it
Has being human in modern human society become a stigma? Judging by the novel The Human Stain humanism in the contemporary society is considered to be some kind of social defect.
“He was not a firebrand or an agitator in any way. Nor was he a madman. Nor was he a radical or a revolutionary, not even intellectually or philosophically speaking, unless it is revolutionary to believe that disregarding prescriptive society's most restrictive demarcations and asserting independently a free personal cho
Non si può ignorare una voce del genere nella moltitudine. Non si può non sentirsi scombussolati e interdetti. Non si può non leggere questo libro senza mettere in discussione quelle poche convinzioni che con fatica si tenta di racimolare. Ero timorosa di leggere qualcosa di questo autore e mi rammarico di non averlo incontrato prima perché davvero ti arricchisce e qualsiasi cosa ti ritrovi a leggere dopo non ha lo stesso sapore. Consigliassimo.
Silvia Sirea
Apr 07, 2016 Silvia Sirea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dopo aver letto La macchia umana posso affermare con convinzione che, se non avete mai letto qualcosa di Philip Roth, allora dovete farlo. Assolutamente. Subito. Ora.
Roth è un autore impegnativo, ma lo sforzo sarà più che ben ripagato.

Non so come definirei La macchia umana perché questo romanzo è davvero tante cose. Si parla di razzismo, di passione, di guerra, di ipocrisia e di pregiudizi.

Coleman Silk è un professore universitario di lettere classiche che viene accusato di razzismo per esser
Nelson Zagalo
Em termos formais, a "Mancha" é pura tragédia, e por isso não adianta gritar contra Roth e a manipulação emocional, isso faz parte do género, está na essência do tecido de relações humanas recortado para nos ser contado. O que podemos analisar, é como o faz, procurar perceber se se limita à exploração de sentimentos, ou se esses estão ali a serviço de algo maior, e disso restam poucas, nenhuma dúvidas, quando terminamos a leitura do último parágrafo. A "Mancha" é humana, a sua essência somos nós ...more
Oct 08, 2012 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, usa
Anche in questo romanzo parla Nathan Zuckerman, alter ego di Roth.Narra le vicende del professore Coleman Silk, insegnante di lettere classiche all'università di Athena, nel New England. Un uomo che si porta dietro e dentro per oltre 50 anni un segreto, "una macchia", sul quale fonda e costruisce la sua esistenza Poi, un giorno, all'apice della sua carriera universitaria,con la pronuncia di una banale parola, "spook", rivolta a due studenti di colore assenteisti, il suo mondo crolla, e si ritrov ...more
Nov 12, 2007 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So I've given this five stars not because I was particularly blown away by the story, and not because Philip Roth is incredibly smart with a great vocabulary, because I wasn't that amazed by that either really. I just really appreciate how Mr. Roth has created these characters, how indepth he got, showing their incredibly human imperfections. The part that really made me think, Oh gracious, she's a person and she's scared and she's really messed up now, was when Delphine claimed Coleman broke in ...more
Jun 19, 2007 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
1. The amazing language. Philip Roth has such an amazing vocabulary, first off. Every word he uses seems painstakingly chosen and every sentence carefully constructed. Honestly, the writing itself is what kept me interested.
2. The idea of the educational playing field being decimated by politics. My favorite sections of the book were the few scenes that took place on campus.
3. I liked the parallels between Coleman and Clinton. Very clever. The title alone gave
Dec 27, 2007 Shana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always meant to read some Philip Roth, but I imagined him as the sort of uber-masculine, perhaps even sexist, writer who would turn me off. I was wrong. I deeply enjoyed this book, even though there were some parts that some people might think of as sexist. (The Monica Lewinski bit, for example.)

In fact, this book made me realize that some of my favorite writers--Kundera, for example--are masculine types accused of being sexist. This is perhaps odd considering that I have never, ever had a pro
Asghar Abbas

I don't know, I found this book to be too pretentious for my taste and quite frankly, very very boring. I read this when I used to be inhale books and still couldn't get into it. But people seem to have enjoyed it, so maybe it's just me.

Very catchy title and this edition's cover, too cool.
Vincent Saint-Simon
Jul 07, 2008 Vincent Saint-Simon rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Post-modern hipsters
Mr. Roth,

Your banal prose and elementary gimmicks do nothing to endear yourself to me, sir. If, in the future, a thought flies into your head and you would like to put it down on paper, I would first suggest that you hide or burn every John Updike novel you've been petting to sleep each night, get yourself a fistful of fresh adjectives, and wipe your nose. Far too much of you gets onto the page, sir, and none of it is to your credit.

Many people are impressed because you wrote American Pastoral.
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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)
  • American Pastoral
  • I Married a Communist

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“The pleasure isn't in owning the person. The pleasure is this. Having another contender in the room with you.” 106 likes
“Because that is when you love somebody - when you see them being game in the face of the worst. Not courageous. Not heroic. Just game.” 105 likes
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