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Philip Roth Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (24)  | Personal Quotes (16)

Overview (4)

Born in Newark, New Jersey, USA
Died in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NamePhilip Milton Roth
Nickname Bard of Newark

Mini Bio (1)

Philip Roth was born on March 18, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey, USA as Philip Milton Roth. He was a writer and producer, known for The Human Stain (2003), The Plot Against America (2020) and Indignation (2016). He was married to Claire Bloom and Margaret Elna (Martinson) Williams. He died on May 22, 2018 in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA.

Spouse (2)

Claire Bloom (29 April 1990 - 1995) (divorced)
Margaret Elna (Martinson) Williams (22 February 1959 - 11 May 1968) (her death)

Trade Mark (1)

Novels set in Newark, New Jersey

Trivia (24)

Son of Bess (Finkel) and Herman Roth. His parents were born in New Jersey, and his grandparents were all Jewish emigrants (from Galicia and Russia).
Biography/bibliography in: "Contemporary Authors". New Revision Series, Vol. 132, pp. 323-334. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2005.
Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, for "American Pastoral".
Was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1998 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.
Had taught creative writing and comparative literature at several universities, before he finally retired in 1992.
After earning a degree in English at Bucknell University, he studied at the University of Chicago, receiving an M.A. in English literature.
His first wife Margaret Martinson, who died in 1968, five years after her separation from Roth, is the inspiration for several characters such as Maureen in "My Life as A Man" (1974).
Has been a candidate to win the Nobel Prize in Literature for many years.
Former stepfather of opera singer Anna Steiger.
Won the National Book Award twice, in 1960 for "Goodbye, Columbus" and in 1995 for "Sabbath's Theater".
Only reads novels of dead writers such as Franz Kafka or Henry James and non-fiction books.
Owns homes in New York's Upper West Side and Connecticut.
Biography/bibliography in: "Contemporary Authors". New Revision Series, Volume 170, pages 349-361. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2008.
He was nominated for the 2008 New Jersey Hall of Fame for his services and contributions to Literature.
He was inducted into the 2010 New Jersey Hall of Fame for his services and contributions to Literature.
He was born in Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey.
He graduated from Weequahic High School the Weequahic section of Newark, New Jersey.
He was awarded the 2010 National Humanities Medal for his contributions to American letters. He is the author of 24 novels, including "Portnoy's Complaint" and "American Pastoral," which won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize, and his criticism has appeared in literary journals.
He celebrated his 75th birthday with friends and colleagues at the Miller Theater at Columbia University in New York City. [March 2008]
He splits his time between New York City and Warren, Connecticut where he has residences. [March 2007]
Friends with Ross Miller, son of Kermit Miller, and nephew of Arthur Miller, and Joan Copeland. Miller has served as Roth's editor on 3 books of short stories.
In film and television, characters who were meant to stand-in for Roth have been played by Richard Benjamin (in Goodbye, Columbus and Portnoy's Complaint), Gary Sinise (in The Human Stain), Ben Kingsley (in Elegy), Al Pacino (in The Humbling), David Strathairn (in American Pastoral), Logan Lerman (in Indignation), and Azhy Robertson (in The Plot Against America (2020)).
The most successful feature film adaptation of his work is still the first one, Goodbye, Columbus (1969), which was a huge box office hit in 1969 and made newcomer Ali MacGraw a star. According to producer Stanley R. Jaffe, Roth first was skeptical about a film adaptation and didn't really support it. Jaffe: "Then he saw the movie on his own - paid three dollars, or whatever it cost then - and called to tell me, 'There are things that are better about the movie and things that aren't as good, Then he asked me to introduce him to Ali MacGraw." Roth later often said that it was his favorite of all the films based on his work [Hollywood Reporter, May 2018].
Brother of Sandy Roth.

Personal Quotes (16)

This will come as a great shock to young people, but in 1951 you could make it through college unscathed by oral sex.
With the draft, everybody was involved. Everybody was fodder. When you got to be 21, 22 and graduated from college, for two years your life stopped. If you had been running in the direction of your life, you had to stop and do this other thing which was, if not menacing, just plain boring.
[on deciding to retire, 2012] I sat around for a month or two trying to think of something else (to write about) and I thought 'Maybe it's over, maybe it's over. I gave myself a dose of fictional juice by rereading writers I hadn't read in fifty years and who had meant quite a lot when I read them. I read Dostoyevsky, I read Conrad - two or three books by each. I read Turgenev, two of the greatest short stories ever written, 'First Love' and 'The Torrents of Spring'. And then I decided to reread my own books, and I began from the last book forward, casting a cold eye. And I thought, 'You did all right'. But when I got to 'Portnoy' - 'Portnoy's Complaint', published in 1969, I had lost interest, and I didn't read the first four books. So I read all that great stuff, and then I read my own and I knew I wasn't going to get another good idea, or if I did, I'd have to slave over it.I no longer have the stamina to endure the frustration..not to mention humiliation. It's just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time.
You know, I needed my life as a springboard for my fiction. I have to have something solid under my feet when I write. I'm not a fantasist. I bounce up and down on the diving board and I go into the water of fiction. But I've got to begin in life so I can pump life into it throughout.
[clearing up a misquote] I do not believe the novel is dying. I said the readership is dying out. That's a fact and I've been saying it for fifteen years. I said the screen will kill the reader and it has. The movie screen is the beginning, the television screen, and now the coup de grace, the computer screen.
[on having been nominated for, but never awarded, a Nobel Prize for Literature] I wonder if I had called 'Portnoy's Complaint' 'The Orgasm Under Rapacious Capitalism', if I would thereby have earned the favor of the Swedish Academy.
[on retiring from writing] Everybody has a hard job. All real work is hard. My work happened also to be undoable. Morning after morning for fifty years I faced the next page, defenseless and unprepared. Wrting for me was a feat of self-preservation. If I did not do it, I would die. So I did it. Obstinacy, not talent, saved my life. It was also my good luck that happiness didn't matter to me and I had no compassion for myself. Now? Now I am a bird sprung from a cage instead of a bird in search of a cage. The horror of being caged has lost its thrill.
As I see it, my focus has never been on masculine power rampant and triumphant but rather on the antithesis: masculine power impaired. I have hardly been singing a paean to male superiority but rather representing manhood stumbling, constricted, humbled, devastated and brought down. My intention is to present my fictional men not as they should be but vexed as men are.
[on frequently being labeled a 'misogynist'] Misogyny, a hatred of women, provides my work with neither a structure, a meaning, a motive, a message, a conviction, a perspective, or a guiding principle.. My traducers propound my alleged malefaction as though I have spewed venom on women for half a century. But only a madman would go to the trouble of writing thirty-one books in order to affirm his hatred. It is my comic fate to be the writer these traducers have decided I am not. They practice a rather commonplace form of social control: You are not what you think you are. Your are what 'we' think you are. You are what we choose for you to be. Well, welcome to the subjective human race. The imposition of a cause's idea of reality on the writer's idea of reality can only mistakenly be called 'reading'
[impressions of his life work, having re-read all his novels] My conclusion, after I'd finished, echoes the words spoken by an American boxing hero of mine, Joe Lewis. When he was asked upon his retirement about his long career, Joe sweetly summed it up in just ten words. 'I did the best I could with what I had'.
Whoever looks for the writer's thinking in the words and thoughts of his characters is looking in the wrong direction. Seeking out a writer's 'thoughts' violates the richness of the mixture that is the very hallmark of the novel. The thought of the novelist that matters most is the thought that makes him a novelist. The thought of the novelist lies not in the remarks of his characters or even in their introspection but in the plight he has invented for his characters - in the juxtaposition of those characters and in the lifelike ramifications of the ensemble they make: their density, their substantiality, their lived existence actualized in all its nuanced particulars, is in fact his thought metabolized.
[on the European preoccupation with America] The power in any society is with those who get to impose the fantasy. It is no longer, as it was for centuries throughout Europe, the church that imposes its fantasy, as it did for 12 years in Nazi Germany and for 69 years in the Soviet Union. Now the fantasy that prevails is the all-consuming, voraciously consumed popular culture, seemingly sponsored by, of all things, freedom. The young especially live according to the beliefs that are thought up for them by the society's most unthinking people and by the businesses least impeded by innocent ends. Ingeniously as their parents and teachers may attempt to protect the young from being drawn, to their detriment, into the moronic amusement park that is now universal, the preponderance of the power is not with them.
It's been a good time for the novel in America, but I can't say I know what accounts for it. Maybe it's the absence of certain things that somewhat accounts for it. The American novelist's indifference to, if not contempt for, 'critical' theory. Aesthetic freedom unhampered by all the high-and-mighty isms and their humorlessness.. Writing that is uncontaminated by political propaganda - or even social responsibility. The absence of any 'school' of writing. In a place so vast, no single geographic center from which the writing originates. Anything but a homogeneous population, no basic national unity, no single national character, social calm utterly unknown, even the general obtuseness about literature, the inability of many citizens to read any of it with even minimal comprehension confers a certain freedom. And surely the fact that writers really don't mean a goddamn thing to nine-tenths of the population doesn't hurt. It's inebriating.
Donald Trump is ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency. [Trump] wields a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.
[on Donald Trump and America] No one I know of has foreseen an America like the one we live in today. No one (except perhaps the acidic H.L. Mencken who famously described American democracy as 'the worship of jackals by jackasses'), could have imagined that the 21st century catastrophe to befall the U.S.A., the most debasing of disasters, would appear not, say, in the terrifying guise of an Orwellian Big Brother but in the ominously ridiculous commedia dell'arte figure of the boastful buffoon. [Jan. 2018]
[on Mihail Sebastian's "Journal 1935-1944: The Fascist Years", first published in 1996] This extraordinary personal diary, describing, day by day, the 'huge anti-Semitic factory' that was Romania in the late 1930s and early 1940s, deserves to be on the same shelf as Anne Frank's Diary and to find as huge a readership. Sebastian is no child, however - his is a sophisticated literary mind observing in horror, and then portraying with a fluent, lucid pungency, the cruelty, cowardice, and stupidity of his worldly Gentile friends in Bucharest's urban cultural elite as they voluntarily transform themselves into intellectual criminals and, allied with the Nazis, participate with fanatical conviction in an anti-Semitic delirium that nothing can stop.

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