Thursday, May 24, 2018

Late great

A male author, frequently cantankerous and skilled in the art of mimicry, who was often vilified by feminists (rightly or wrongly) and whose most controversial and therefore well-known work is arguably not his best? As a former D H Lawrence scholar, I can't help but see the parallels with the late Philip Roth.

The novel in question, Portnoy's Complaint, is the only one of Roth's that I've read, but according to Mark Lawson the "mastubatory comic classic" which brought him both fame and notoriety is trumped by some of his late-career offerings, including The Human Stain and The Plot Against America.

Reflecting on the work of a writer he interviewed on five separate occasions, Lawson has hailed Roth as the greatest of the golden generation of American novelists born between 1922 and 1933: "Once seen to deal only with sex and New Jersey, he became the great chronicler of American identity and imperialism in the 20th century".

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