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Title: 'Counterlives,' double talk, and pastoral images : 'the instinct for impersonation' in the fiction of Philip Roth
Author: Smith, Margaret.
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis constitutes an original contribution to knowledge in its examination of the range of Jewish subjectivities that emerge in the fiction of Philip Roth. Initially, it will engage with the contradiction between the writer's own perception of himself in his early work as a mischief-maker among the Jews, and the way in which he has come to be regarded by both critics, and the reading public, as betraying Jewish ethnicity and culture. This thesis then also examines the later criticism levelled at Roth as a writer who has trivialised Jewish ethnicity, isolating the racial anxieties and tensions that emanate from the interlinking of particular readings of cultural history and Jewish subjectivity. These readings in effect, produce readings which locate a specific history of trauma and Diasporic dilution as predominant in his fictional evocations of post-Second World War American society. This thesis will challenge such readings, demonstrating the need to re-evaluate Roth as a writer aware of, and responding to, the racial anxieties and the cultural tensions that have emerged in the post-Holocaust era. This project also investigates the significance of the authorial voice in Roth's fiction as a presence that reading audiences and critics alike have chosen to understand as autobiographical. However, this thesis contends that over the course of his writing career, Roth has deliberately incorporated a form of authorial presence in order to challenge the apparent authenticity of the writer's potential to claim a position of authority within a text. This project also examines the narrative device(s) that evolve into impersonation, doubles and 'counterlives' in the later fictions. These serve to explore tension between what Roth considers authentic and inauthentic Jewish positions in post-Holocaust, American social order. Finally, this thesis introduces Roth's seminal reproduction of a version of Jewish SUbjectivityin which history has no place and typified as a phenomenon happening elsewhere in America. The thesis will conclude that in Philip Roth's fiction, America emerges as the site of a modem Jewish Diaspora and thus as an authentic location for the interrogation of Jewishness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available