Philip Roth

Ranen Omer-Sherman (University of Louisville)
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In portraying his father’s cultural world in

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(1988) an autobiography and perhaps the best thing he ever wrote about the development of his writing, Philip Milton Roth observed: “His repertoire has never been large: family, family, family, Newark, Newark, Newark, Jew, Jew, Jew. Somewhat like mine.” This from a writer who refused to be labeled as a “Jewish writer”. On the last page of Roth's subsequent memoir


(1991), he revisited the theme of paternity in relating a terrifying dream that followed the burial of his father, an assimilated secular Jew who had never exhibited any particular inclination toward faith. Responding to the mortician's request that he choose a suit for the burial, he inexplicably acted on a pious impulse to bury his father in an old…

6348 words

Citation: Omer-Sherman, Ranen. "Philip Roth". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 August 2004; last revised 22 October 2018. [, accessed 26 May 2024.]

4939 Philip Roth 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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