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3.23  ·  Rating details ·  5,102 ratings  ·  584 reviews
Po Rozhorčení, ktoré bolo príbehom mladosti, vlastne ešte len dospievania, vracia sa Roth k problematike, ktorou sa zapodieval v románe Everyman/Ktokoľvek - k starnutiu, strate telesných, ale najmä duševných schopností a vedomiu blížiacej sa smrti. Tentoraz je hrdinom človek-individualita, neopakovateľný a s nikým iným nestotožniteľný, celebrita, slávny divadelný a filmový ...more
Hardcover, 133 pages
Published 2010 by Slovart (first published 2009)
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3.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,102 ratings  ·  584 reviews

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Michael Finocchiaro
Not the strongest Roth book, nor the most positive, the story of Simon Axler's loss of his phenomenal acting skills and subsequent descent, his Humbling, is still a compelling one. It is classic Roth in its extraordinarily evocative text and dialogs, how he expresses inner torment, the sexual passages, and his cynical view on life. It is nonetheless quite depressing and hardly as good as Everyman or Indignation. It is still a good read and now I shall read the last book of the tetralogy, his ver ...more
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As far as myths go, Roth has the Distinguished Old Man Disgraced and Betrayed (DOMDAB) prototype down. Oh yeah, he's truly the master. Rushdie's & McEwan's brand of DOMDAB always parades about his previous experiences (ever so distinguished heights) in career and love--a patina of affluence settles over everything very megauncomfortably (I am myself allergic to this type of literary dust). Coatzee's tragic DOMDAB (see: Disgrace, Slow Man, Diary of a Bad Year...) surrounds himself with an une ...more
Paul Bryant
Nov 04, 2009 marked it as probably-never  ·  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
David Schaafsma
The second to last novel Roth wrote before he retired, The Humbling, is the second lowest rated (3.21) Roth novel on Goodreads (the lowest being The Breast, 3.18! about a man who wakes up one morning—as in Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”—to discover he is a breast). 3.21 is a low rating for Goodreads, and at a glance it appears many people hated it. It’s part of a loosely connected series called Nemeses that focuses on decline and death (sounds like fun, eh?). So I will admit I had low expectations for ...more
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
"What was remarkable was the frequency with which suicide enters into drama, as though it were a formula fundamental to the drama, not necessarily supported by the action as directed by the workings of the genre itself."
-- Philip Roth, The Humbling


Not my favorite Roth. It reads like a Greek tragedy mixed with a bit of Chekhov, but somehow it just doesn't work for me. I'll admit that I avoided reading these later, smaller Roth novels for some time. I felt as if they were a bit of an author's indu
Glenn Sumi
A famous 60-something classical actor loses his acting ability and becomes suicidal, then takes up with the 40-year-old lesbian daughter of some mutual friends and they embark on some kinky sex (I guess she was just waiting for an older man to “turn” her straight) in this brief, slight novel by one of America’s best novelists. (Seriously: a few weeks ago I read American Pastoral, and came away thinking it one of the most powerful novels of the past quarter century.)

I was initially interested in
Jun 06, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Wow. What a book!
I feel sorry for anyone who's going to borrow my hardc0ver copy of this, coz it's highlighted to death. Almost every page has a line or two or three or four, highlighted. that's how brilliant and quotable this book is.
I must admit, I've always been curious about Roth's writing, and it's a shame that this is his first book I've read... well, completed. I tried reading the Human Stain a long while ago, but I guess, like some of Saul Bellow's books, there are certain Literary Maste
Jan 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
W.D. Clarke
2.5 Really. I didn't buy into the numerous veers that the plot takes, and felt that it would have functioned much better as a fully-fledged novel than as a VERY brief novella (btw, I hope I bought it remaindered: 30 bucks for the hardcover's 125 beautifully laid-out and therefore sparsely blackened pages!). We never get any kind of understanding of Pegeen, the female lead, for starters.

Otherwise, Roth's command of voice is still unparalleled, such that you can't help get sucked into the male lea
Feb 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  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 an
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a strange one for me to review. I'm not even sure I exactly liked this book, but it was compulsively readable from page 1 right through to 140. I read it in one sitting and got completely lost in it. Axler's downward spiral over the course of the book is fascinating and somewhat uncomfortable, especially in the last chapter. It was quite an entrancing read, darker than I had anticipated. I want to read more of Philip Roth's writing because, while I may not have liked the book, I kind of ...more
Krok Zero
Oct 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fall-2009
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
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
John Beck
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction

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
May 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roth continues his pre-occupation with death that he began with Everyman and followed up with Exit Ghost. His protagonists in these short novels are artists who have lost their creative abilities and are coping with a host of health issues, staring death in the face yet looking desperately for a spark somewhere that would return them to their old form. And the spark usually is sex.

In this novel, Simon Axler is a famous stage and screen actor who is unable to act any more. His last performance en
Dec 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Robin Friedman
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Humbling

I read "The Humbling", the thirtieth novel of the late Philip Roth (1933 -- May 22, 2018), after reading his "American Pastoral" and being greatly moved. Roth is a gifted and deservedly celebrated American novelist. As with any prolific writer, his work tends to be uneven. Although it is a lesser work of Roth, "The Humbling" is a short carefully constructed novel about the sadness of growing old, the never-ending power of human sexuality, and the difficulty of changing one's characte
Izetta Autumn
Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
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
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
There was always a sly voice inside me saying, 'There is no teacup.'

I've got a lot of of time for Roth, and I've had this book on the shelf, unread, since its release, and now I read a review of the film version telling me how it '...doesn't work as twenty-first century theatrical fare, as it's too impolitic to be celebrated in art-house theaters and too esoteric to be featured in today's sequel-driven multiplexes', and that's sort of like saying, to me, YOU, YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM, so I read
Robert Blenheim
When Roth started out, I read every book of his until I hit "Portnoy's Complaint"; after that the complaint was mine about the author. Since then I've read one that was great ("The Great American Novel"), one almost-great ("The Plot Against America") and a few that were good but didn't live up to their reputation (e.g., "American Pastoral"). Now this one, which is hard to deny its all-too shallowness, and being somewhat a knock-off. I'd be amazed if Roth took longer than a few days to have writt ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. 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
Anna Tan
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 c ...more
Bonnie G.
Philip Roth is one of my favorite writers. That said, I really hated this book. The only "pro" I can think of is that it is very short. Roth's books have always been autobiographical, and I have always thought of him as that randy uncle who is a little handsy; the uncle you are glad to see because something about him is endearing, but you are grateful meetings only occur a couple times a year. With this book he moves from that uncle to the uncle you need to report to child and family services. T ...more
Jun 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nolan Teter
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrew Smith
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do love Roth. This is the shortest of his novels (or is it a novella?) I've read to date and it's a little less ranting than some, or perhaps it's just as ranting but there is less of it because there is less of everything. A dark tale of ageing, loss of power and confidence with the grimmest of all conclusions. It was right up my alley.
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Philip Milton Roth was 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 in ...more
“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.” 1 likes
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