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Philip Roth's Rude Truth: The Art of Immaturity
Has anyone ever worked harder and longer at being immature than Philip Roth? The novelist himself pointed out the paradox, saying that after establishing a reputation for maturity with two earnest novels, he "worked hard and long and diligently" to be frivolous--an effort that resulted in the notoriously immature Portnoy's Complaint (1969). Three-and-a-half decades and mor ...more
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Princeton University Press
(first published September 13th 2006)
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Claiming that Portnoy's Complaint, The Counterlife, Sabbath's Theater, and The Human Stain are Roth's four best novels, Posnock interprets them in the context of earlier American writing: Emerson, Melville, Hawthorne. He's particularly good on The Human Stain. "Immaturity" is an accurate -- and yet not the right -- word for what Roth values. Resonates with, and can seem to sort of repeat, Roth's autobiography, The Facts. Shortcomings and all, it's still the best book on Roth.