In Defense of Philip Roth

In Defense of Philip Roth
AP Photo/Richard Drew, file

The fictions of Philip Roth debuted in the middle of what has variously been called the “American Century” or the “Jewish Century.” In profound ways they represent the amalgamation of the two—or what I prefer to call the “Jewish-inflected American self.” I am defining “Jew-ish” in Roth’s work as originating historically in the second and third postwar decades and generically in satire. He satirized the speech-intoxicated, God-saturated idiom of urban and suburban humans who happened to be Jews meeting the speech-intoxicated, God-saturated idiom of urban and suburban humans who happened not to be Jews.

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