“Anything but the perfect external man”

By posted at 11:00 am on March 4, 2014 1

Philip Roth may have retired, but that doesn’t mean he’s done giving interviews. The author recently sat down with the editor of a Swedish newspaper, who talked with him about misogyny, Sabbath’s Theater and the need for “obstinacy” in a writer. (Related: our own Hannah Gersen reviewed Roth Unbound.) (h/t The Paris Review)

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One Response to ““Anything but the perfect external man””

  1. Lou
    at 12:09 pm on March 4, 2014

    While I admire Philip Roth work, I can’t avoid thinking that his need to read his own work, and then to grace us with his revelation upon doing so is hopelessly narcissistic and arrogant. Reading these “revelations” is like listening to a parent go on and on about her children.

    Ultimately, it’s how the world judges your children that matters. Not you. Is Roth’s work misogynist? I don’t think so. But a lot of people do. Too bad, Mr. Roth. That question will have to sort itself out over time. We might as well listen to Shakespeare defend himself against accusations of antisemitism in the Merchant of Venice. The play will engage us, if not forever, for a long time. But for all his monumental influence, the great bard doesn’t get a vote in defining what his work means. The same goes for Philip Roth, or any writer.

    Let it go, Roth! Get a life! Indulge the retirement you promised yourself and the world. If there is rhetoric in your fiction, that’s there for others to sort out. Your clever logic in interviews after you chose to set your work on its way, disabuses the reading public of none of its illusions.

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