La Humillación
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La Humillación (Nemeses #3)

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  2,774 ratings  ·  376 reviews
Simon Axler is one of the principal actors in North American theater; but now, as a 60-year-old, he has lost his magic, his talent and his self confidence. He can no longer pretend that he is someone else. With this disappearance of personal points of reference comes another drama: an unusual erotic desire which is so risky that it does not lead to relief but to a somber e...more
155 pages
Published 2010 by Mondadori (first published 2009)
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Paul
Nov 14, 2011 Paul marked it as assorted-rants-about-stuff  ·  review of another edition
John Crace over at The Guardian has written a beautiful parody of this and here's my favourite bit:

After his release, Axler had retreated to his farmhouse in upstate New York and it was there that Pegeen had visited him. Her parents were old friends and he had known her since she was a baby, suckling at her mother's breast. Now she was 40, a lesbian teaching at a progressive women's college in Vermont. "Have you ever slept with a man?" he asked.

"Not for more than 20 years," Pegeen replied. "But...more
brian
about one simon axler, a world renowned stage actor who is humbled by the fact that he's lost his gift. he doesn't know how to play a scene, his timing is off, the words come out sounding false, he cannot get out of his mind and lose himself in the role. so he lays around his house in the woods and contemplates suicide. 'all the world's a stage'/identity/and-other-important-themes aside, what is interesting here (and what, i suspect, certain reviewers will write about upon the release of this bo...more
Carmo Santos
Na linha a que já nos habituou Philip Roth, mais uma história à volta de um homem surpreendido pelos infortúnios da idade e que vai encontrar compensação na relação com uma mulher mais nova. Podia ser no álcool, podia ser nas drogas…mas não, sexo desvairado com uma mulher com menos vinte anos é muito mais apelativo.
O facto de aligeirar o assunto não desvaloriza em nada a obra. Gosto muito de Philip Roth, aprecio o modo como aprofunda situações que são comuns a qualquer pessoa a partir de certa i...more
Jason
Feb 03, 2010 Jason rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: Saw displayed at library, completely random choice
This is the first Philip Roth book I've ever read. I began it queuing at the DMV waiting to renew my driver's license; finished it the same day. Somebody tell me if The Humbling is the best introduction to Roth. Would you have recommended a different book to a newbie with a wild hair to overdose on his writing this month on a long work trip?

This may be a spoiler--don't know--it was only 140 pages, on 5x7, 13 font, with super wide margins, probably the same word count as my college thesis, so any...more
Krok Zero
I read the entirety of this short novel in a bookstore after coming out of a matinee of Where the Wild Things Are, which was kind of like eating a whole frosted vanilla cake and chasing it with a jigger of poison-spiked whiskey.

I'm still a relative novice when it comes to Philip Roth but even I can tell that this is basically a slight, minor effort from a master. It feels like it was tossed off quickly, which, given Roth's prolificacy in recent years, it probably was. But when you're as good as...more
§--
"People go around killing people in movies all the time, but the reason they make all those movies is that for 99.9 percent of the audience, it's impossible to do. And if it's that hard to kill someone else, someone you have every reason to want to destroy, imagine how hard it is to succeed in killing yourself." (p. 42) Suicide is "the most unreal of all things." (139)

Roth's worst book. Eminently bad, but I actually enjoyed a pleasant evening reading it.

As with all Roth's protagonists, there ar...more
Alecia
The Humbling was given to me as a gift and I read it practically in one sitting. I had read the very negative reviews and probably would have skipped it. An article (about sex in novels now vs. then )that I read included this book. Supposedly, one woman was so disgusted by the graphic sex that she threw the book in the garbage. Well, I wouldn't go that far, but point taken. The problem with the sex scenes was, dare I say it, they seemed gratuitous.

I love Philip Roth! He may be my favorite author...more
Tara
Advanced age, doomed sex, and impending death: just the kind of topics you enjoy exploring on a cozy winter night, right? Roth's frequent laments about the dark underbelly of the golden years may alienate some readers, but his literary skill keeps me coming back for more. The Dying Animal, Exit Ghost, Everyman -- I just can't stop, as evidenced by my recent one-night immersion his thirtieth book, The Humbling.
Roth's aging characters share one outstanding characteristic: they can't bear the thou...more
Alex
Cutting short of loud rumbling
I am not happy with "The Humbling"
I am afraid that Philip Roth
Went too far in this book's plot
(I'm so disturbed - that at this time
I've lost the urge for perfect rhyme )
Where health declined Hollywood's star ex
Acts as sex hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex,
Who's end of life obscurity
Is fought with .... well, promiscuity
(Please don't beat me with a wrench
For my Russian broken French )
Where "Cherchez la femme" for the carnal "Pa-De-Trua"
Gets arranged impromptu easy at any nea...more
Matthew McCarthy
As anyone who follows my reviews will know, I am a HUGE Philip Roth fan. Since The Humbling just came out in paperback, I thought I'd treat myself after a long semester and start my first casual read of my winter break by reading Roth's 30th (!!!) book.

Yet, I have to say this—and I hope I don’t have to say it often: I was not overly impressed with Roth here. The Humbling is a novella, and in being a novella, I read it fairly quickly in about two sessions of voracious reading; these two segments...more
Izetta Autumn
What is Philip Roth drinking? Because this man always manages to draw me into his novels and characters, even though 1.) the characters are not always (and very rarely) likeable 2.) almost always involve a white middle aged man coming to grips with aging and the decline of his sexuality (which I think is part of why the U.S. literary establishment loves Roth so very much)but never ever examining, say white heterosexual male privilege and 3.) the plots are so simplistic - there's hardly any actio...more
John Beck
http://andalittlewine.blogspot.com/2012/03/book-10-of-52-humbling.html

I have an irrational love of Philip Roth's work.

He writes simply and directly. His flourishes are carefully constructed, re-enforcing the themes of his novels: the internal life of the mind as an agent of story-telling; blurring the boundaries between the real and imagined world; the creation of identity (through story-telling and imagination) and our responsibility and dependance upon the people around us.

I would put Roth up...more
Jason
Look, if this was anyone besides Philip Roth, it would get a strong four stars. Not five, mind you, but a strong four. But, because this IS Philip Roth, a literary genius capable of moving mountains with a pen, the novel gets only three stars. This is his last novel, and the one that led to his retirement. He said himself that it had become harder to write, and to write well, and I applaud him for this effort.

Actually, truth be told, I liked this novel in a lot of ways. I liked it's compactness...more
Caris
My friend Bob told me this was a book for old people. He and I both like Roth (neither of us are enthralled by him, but we enjoy his books as they emerge), so I didn't take that as too harsh a criticism. I immediately saw what he was talking about, though.

"Then, starting around year five, she slowly drifted away into the computer, and I was left with no one to talk to but the cats."

Granted, folks do this all the time. It's turned into a real problem. People trade in their real lives in favor of...more
Anna Tan
The Humbling is the story of Simon Axler, a reknown actor, who wakes up one morning having lost his ability to act. Everything comes crashing down on him - he loses his career, his wife, his self-esteem and his will to live in a short span of time.

Roth strikes at a deep fear - the fear of losing your sense of self when you grow old, when your hands and body can no longer do what you have made yourself into over the length of your years. What would you do then? Axler finds solace in the embrace o...more
Jim
Having only read one other book by Roth—the equally-short late novel Everyman —I’m not as weighed down by Roth’s oeuvre (he’s been writing novels for as long as I’ve been alive) as some reviewers have been. I’m also a big fan of novellas which helps. Actors suffer from stage fright, writers from writer’s block. It was not hard to relate to the protagonist in this book even if he does have a few years on me. Like a play (obviously) the book follows a straightforward three act structure and the co...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Regular readers know that I am currently in the process of reading all 13 of the "Zuckerman" books Philip Roth has written over the decades (in fact, book two of the series, Zuckerman Unbound, will be reviewed here in just a few weeks), mostly as a way of learning more about the Postmodernist period of th...more
Jim
started strong, with Axler's loss of nerve/talent/confidence, but lost its way with the arrival of the vixen. Axler becomes a passive character until she leaves, right at the very end and without any warning. If she were a muse instead of a fantasy (with excellent recall for conversations!) to build on the initial promise, then it might have worked... now that Roth has retired there's some intrigue in wondering how much Axler's creative anxiety is that of Roth; for his sake I hope the tawdry cli...more
Kalli Meisler
A very quick read; I'm glad I picked this book up, yet again, more great lessons learned (thanks, Philip Roth):

- There are people and places for different times and spaces.
- "Do one moment. We're only dealing with the single moment. Play the moment, play for whatever plays for you in that moment, and then go on to the next moment." (P. 34)
- is Pegeen working in LA? "The twenty-five years register with me as twenty-five years more experience than someone would have if I were trying this with a m...more
Jonathan

Roth's books are getting shorter and darker. Now that Roth has reached the age where the end of his life is looming, he seems only able to focus his stories on death. Where his last book Indignation told the story of a young man and a life's potential taken away, The Humbling is about a life nearing completion, and how even at the end there is still no immunity from humiliation and failure.

Roth seems to be abiding by the "never buy green bananas" theory of old age. His last two novels have been

...more
F.R.
This latest run of Phillip Roth novels – ‘The Humbling’, ‘Indignation’, ‘Exit Ghost’ and ‘Everyman’ (and one might even include ‘The Dying Animal’ on that list, even though it’s earlier) – all seem puny and insubstantial, both in terms of the slenderness of their length and the narrow subject matters they address. Maybe Roth has taken on Saul Bellow’s thinking that after a certain age there’s no point starting to write a big book in case you don’t live to finish it (although that reasoning, stra...more
Raül De Tena
Philip Roth sigue practicando la novela corta (poco más de 150 páginas) como herramienta de espeleología en las cuevas de sus obsesiones de anciano. Si en “Indignación” la muerte planeaba por encima de la trama como un ave de carroña y en “Elegía” la vejez se establecía como el corazón narrativo (un corazón que latía cada vez a menor velocidad), en “La Humillación” el autor se deja de paráfrasis y lanza un puñetazo certero a la boca del estómago de la cuestión que le acucia: el fin de la creativ...more
Bart
This is not Roth’s best work, again, but it is conceivably his shortest. All his work in recent years has been short, but this short work of fiction for once feels way too short. This “novel” is not 35,000 words in length, and it comprises a story that could easily have reached full length.

In so many ways – as I’m sure I’m not the first to have noticed – Roth has recently set out to rewrite choice parts of his masterwork, Sabbath’s Theater. This began with Everyman, when Roth rewrote Mickey Sabb...more
Huw Thornton
Classic Roth, approached from a different angle.

All the Rothian themes are here: middle-aged pathos, failure, betrayal, the redeeming/ damning power of sex, the intersection of art and life

What sets 'The Humbling' apart is the question it asks about its protagonist: "He's a tragic figure, to be sure, but what's his tragic flaw?" If you read the book with that question in mind, a bleak picture emerges. Hope is the tragic flaw. Not greed, not hubris, but the fundamental idea that a better day is n...more
Bibliomantic
Philip Roth is a giant of American literature. Or, rather, if judged by the caliber of his last two or three novels, he used to be. Much like his prior effort, Everyman, The Humbling is something of a letdown. Last time it was about a man with a failing body, this time it’s about that plus a failing talent and career. That Roth throws in a couple of women half the man’s age that nevertheless cling to him, at least for a while, does not improve matters. But I would forgive this experiment in male...more
Nolan Teter
Philip Roth has no secrets. His novels are so personal and naked that I feel like I know this man like my own father. I have been reading his books for twenty-five years and look forward to every one. The Humbling is terse but full of juice. I joke with my friends, that Roth's books keep getting shorter because he does not want to leave one half-written. Roth is the Great Writer of our times because he exposes what we all should know -- That life is a cosmic tragedy without a whole heck of a lot...more
Mark
Philip Roth is one of my favorite authors, but this book was terrible. The book itself provides evidence for why the author might identify with the main character, an actor who has lost his mojo. This is the first time I found myself laughing at some of Roth's writing instead of with it (not much intentional humor in this book). If you want to read some incredibly bad sex writing, pick up this book at the library or bookstore and turn to page 91. Read a few paragraphs. If you still want to read...more
Vani
Simon Axler is a sixty five-year-old man who is struggling to regain his "magic, talent, and assurance" in acting. He surrenders himself to a mental hospital, and afterwards retreats to a New York Country House. Here, he is visited by Pegeen Mike Stapleford, who he believes to be his deliverance.

I read the book with a constant nagging sensation that surely, there was a deeper meaning to all of it. The way Roth wrote the book certainly pushed me towards that direction. He explores a problem that...more
Dan
A self-indulgent wank-fantasy: Ageing Great Actor Simon Axler loses his art and becomes depressed; neurotic wife leaves him; he can't bring himself to commit suicide and briefly checks into a mental institution; after his release he's cheered up by lots of exotic sex with a lesbian 25 years his younger - but he's worried she'll leave him; she leaves him; he ends it all in the attic with a shotgun by pretending to be Constantin from the 'The Seagull': his art is rediscovered.

I'm told Roth is a g...more
Ellenjsmellen
Having recently read Roth's Nobel Prize winner American Pastoral and then being blown away by The Human Stain, I happen to see a little book on the shelf at the library by Philip Roth and grabbed it. Got sucked in very fast due to Roth's style of writing. Enjoyed it thoroughly, however, I wish this novel which is more like a short story could have had more elaboration. It ended too soon. Very descriptive in some parts especially coming from an author Roth's age.
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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
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American Pastoral (The American Trilogy #1) Portnoy's Complaint The Plot Against America The Human Stain (The American Trilogy, #3) Everyman

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“Όλοι οι άλλοι κάθονταν εκεί καταθλιπτικά σιωπηλοί, σε εσωτερική υπερένταση, προβάροντας κατά μόνας -στο λεξιλόγιο της λαϊκής ψυχολογίας ή της περιθωριακής αισχρολογίας, της χριστιανικής οδύνης ή της παρανοϊκής παθολογίας- τα πανάρχαια θέματα της δραματικής λογοτεχνίας: αιμομιξία, προδοσία, αδικία, σκληρότητα, ζήλεια, ανταγωνισμός, επιθυμία, απώλεια, ατίμωση και πένθος.” 1 likes
“Play the moment, play whatever plays for you in that moment, and then go to the next moment. It doesn't matter where you're going. Don't worry about that. Just take it moment, moment, moment, moment.” 0 likes
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