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The Human Stain (The American Trilogy #3)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  26,025 Ratings  ·  1,634 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 have astonished his most virulent accuser. Coleman Silk has kep ...more
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Published May 10th 2000 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 2000)
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Byron I just read it as a stand alone and it was perfectly understood. Picked it up at a charity shop and as I'd never read any others thought it was a good…moreI just read it as a stand alone and it was perfectly understood. Picked it up at a charity shop and as I'd never read any others thought it was a good intro to him.(less)
Judy Wallace I don't think the reader is meant to know who wrote the clytemnestra memo. The point that Roth was making was that once the lie is out it remains out…moreI don't think the reader is meant to know who wrote the clytemnestra memo. The point that Roth was making was that once the lie is out it remains out and will be repeated and repeated with nothing to rein it back. The email address could be tracked but what would be the point since the email was posted to the fac.discuss board, i.e., the entire faculty. Roth doesn't attribute the memo to Delphine but he does say Coleman's death was her salvation by allowing her to tell the lie in the first place. Zuckerman simply moves on by saying that in Athena, where the people are bored and jealous, the story will be told and retold because it is the nature of the people and the place.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 02, 2014 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
Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος   Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο   Αμούν Arnum
"Αυτά παθαίνεις άμα μεγαλώνεις με ανθρώπους. Το ανθρώπινο στίγμα...έτσι είναι. Αφήνουμε ένα στίγμα, το αποτύπωμά μας. Ακαθαρσία,σκληρότητα, κακοποίηση, σφάλμα, περιττώματα, σπέρμα- δεν έχουμε άλλον τρόπο να δηλώσουμε την παρουσία μας. Και αυτό το στίγμα δεν έχει σχέση με ανυπακοή, καμιά σχέση με σωτηρία και λύτρωση. Το έχουμε όλοι μας. Είναι μέσα μας. Έμφυτο. Μας καθορίζει. Το στίγμα ενυπάρχει μέσα μας πριν αφήσει την κηλίδα του. Υπάρχει χωρίς το σημάδι του. Είναι τόσο έμφυτο ώστε να μην απαιτεί ...more
Fabian
Nov 23, 2010 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 & incredible that 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 HEAVVVY) 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)
...more
Ahmed
Apr 29, 2015 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
...more
Katie Lynch
Sep 03, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Paula
Nov 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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."

Yup.


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
...more
Perry
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: circle, add2
Roth's Shaming of the PC Speech Police as Censors, and the Religious/Moral Right (as well as Feminists) as Attempting to Impose Moral Values Judgments as the Law or Reason for Disqualification

Coleman Silk, a professor of classics at a local esteemed college, has been accused of racism by two African American students in one of his classes, after he notices upon calling roll that these two enrolled students never attend his class, and mumbles : "Do they exist or are they spooks?"

Roth brilliantly
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
A masterfully architected tale about race, shame, violence, and remembrance, The Human Stain is definitely one of Roth's masterpieces. From its first pages, the reader is drawn into the mystery of Coleman "Silky" Silk né Silkzweig and his tragic downfall. The characters here are vibrant and real, the descriptions terrifying at times but always captivating, I found it hard putting this book down as I was relentlessly driven to want to know what happened - the mark of truly great writing. If you h ...more
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
...more
Alex
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Here's what I know: if a book features some old dude fucking some younger lady, check the author's age. 100% of the time, he's the same age as the old dude.

The younger woman will be vulnerable. She will be attracted to the older man's security and wisdom. There is a power imbalance, and it's basically the same thing as when Tarzan saves Jane from the lion. It's embarrassing, immature wish-fulfillment. And even when it's written very well, it's boring.

This book is occasionally written very well,
...more
Darwin8u
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

description

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
...more
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
...more
David Schaafsma
I read Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus and Portnoy’s Complaint in college, and loved them. They were funny, especially in depicting the lusts and lives of young men, with literary flair. But I didn’t read him again for no particular reason until relatively recently. I read the non-fiction Patrimony, about his relationship with his father, and The Plot Against America, a dark fantasy about a possible past where we choose a fascist dictator in the thirties instead of FDR.

And now having completed his Nat
...more
فهد الفهد
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
...more
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 ال٦٥٠ 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 عل
...more
Emanuele
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dio mio, Roth!
Lee
Jul 20, 2007 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
...more
Andrew Smith
Jul 26, 2011 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 03, 2016 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
...more
Jim
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"
...more
Giulia_lamadeleine
Diceva Camus che ' L'assurdo non libera: vincola'. Ecco, mi sembra che una costante dei libri di Roth sia fare un esperimento. Prendere un uomo mediamente soddisfatto , e gettarlo nell'Assurdo, nell'inspiegabile e crudele meccanismo della vita. Ci aspetteremmo, da parte di Coleman, un'opposizione fiera al giogo della 'reputazione'; una libertà di azione altrettanto solida che di pensiero. E, invece, quest' uomo carismatico, vincente negli studi come nello sport, si rivela come quanto di meno lib ...more
Katie
Nov 15, 2007 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
AC
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Darcy
Jul 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[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
...more
Marcello S
May 18, 2015 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
...more
Tsung Wei
The Human Stain is a schizophrenic, if not unevenly written novel. It is as though it is written by different people, with variable success. While there is a central narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, through whose eyes and ears, we learn about the anti-hero Coleman Silk, there are different voices that make up the whole story. The most annoying one is the ranter, who keeps going on and on about Bill Clinton and his sexual indiscretions. The tirades are tiresome and irrelevant to the plot. The other vo ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mariachiara
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.
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
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Current reading 2 72 Apr 03, 2014 11:57PM  
Calumet City Publ...: Feb 2014: The Human Stain 1 6 Jan 26, 2014 01:15PM  
Politics: Philip Roth - The Human Stain 1 8 Nov 14, 2013 10:24AM  
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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 (The American Trilogy, #1)
  • I Married a Communist (The American Trilogy, #2)

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