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Philip Roth’s Postmodern American Romance

Critical Essays on Selected Works- Foreword by Derek Parker Royal

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Jane Statlander

The central thesis of this book is that Philip Roth’s work is most accurately viewed as postmodernist American Historical Romance, rather than marginalized as Jewish-American. Four works are analyzed in relation to this thesis and to the specific idea that Roth’s contribution is entirely within mainstream American literature and culture. Emphasizing the importance and influence of Hebrew Scripture, the author demonstrates that, paradoxically, Roth’s Jewishness locates him squarely within the canon of (a Hebraic) America and its letters.

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Foreword ix

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Foreword; Or, A Fine Romance Over the past ten years, there has been a flowering of Philip Roth scholarship, a proliferation of criticism that seems to be growing exponentially with each passing year. Since the beginning of the new millennium—a temporal marker so vividly, and tragically, dramatized in the low-key masterpiece, The Dying Animal (2001)—there have been 19 book- length studies devoted to Roth (both monographs and edited collections), over 96 book chapters, more than 180 journal articles, two special journal issues, and approximately 30 dissertations that devote a substantive portion to Roth’s fiction. Put another way, the sheer volume of Roth scholarship since 2000 closely rivals the total produced over the preceding four decades. What is more, 2002 saw the founding of the Philip Roth Society, an international community of researchers and readers devoted to the study of Roth’s writing, and three years later came its scholarly organ, Philip Roth Studies. This, along with Roth’s array of literary awards (as of this date, lacking only the Nobel Prize in Literature) and the enshrinement of his output in Library of America editions, has helped to secure his place as perhaps the most significant living writer in the United States today. Given all of this attention, it has become commonplace to frame Roth within the larger American literary landscape, to contextualize his fiction and its significance by reading it within the company of others. More times than not, he has been described as a Jewish American writer, a compatriot...

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