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Toward a Unified Theory of Philip Roth Novels, 2000-2009

November 2, 2009
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I. Abstract

Philip Roth, famous chronicler of geriatric libido, published his 30th novel, The Humbling, this fall. The Humbling closely adheres to the novelist structure of four other Roth novels published since 2000*. Hence, we may safely say that The Human Stain, The Dying Animal, Everyman, Exit Ghost, and The Humbling are not five separate novels; rather, they are the same novel written five times.

II. Synoptic Survey

The Human Stain, 2000: Aged professor Coleman Silk has slummy sex with working-class woman 30 years his younger; everyone learns Important Lessons.

The Dying Animal, 2001: Aged professor David Kapesh has riotous sex with Hispanic woman 30 years his younger; everyone learns Important Lessons.

Everyman, 2006: Nameless aged protagonist has Nordic sex with Scandinavian woman 30 years his younger; everyone learns Important Lessons.

Exit Ghost, 2007: Aged writer Nathaniel Zuckerman has incontinent sex with sensitive upper middle-class woman 30 years his younger; everyone learns Important Lessons.

The Humbling, 2009: Aged actor Simon Axler has kinky sex with former lesbian woman 30 years his younger; everyone learns Important Lessons.

III. Conclusion

Philip Roth should no longer be considered a writer of literary fiction. Rather, it appears that since the year 2000, Roth has re-branded himself as the peddler of a unique form of genre fiction: Wish-Fulfillment for Old Men Who Want to Bang Young Women. Therefore, the authors of this study recommend shelving Roth’s works alongside those of other noted genre writers, such as David Baldacci and RL Stine.

* The authors have purposefully omitted two works from this study: The Plot Against America of 2004 and Indignation of 2008. These works stray far enough from Roth’s established template that we may safely assume they were ghostwritten by Norman Podhoretz and Bob Clark, respectively.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2009 11:36 am

    Hmmm, no comments yet on this one? This is just superb, just your usual laugh-out-loud, yes-I-nailed-that-one-completely kind of post.

  2. November 13, 2009 7:16 pm

    Are you clean/recovered/whatever you want to call not using drugs anymore yet?

  3. March 14, 2010 1:45 pm

    Hilarious. And insightful. And pretty freaking true.
    Did I mention hilarious?

  4. Mike permalink
    February 27, 2014 1:55 pm

    My thoughts exactly. I got through The Human Stain and The Dying Aninmal. Both were terrible, wishfulfilment books by a bad author.

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