Philip Roth: Master of Double Identity

Topics: Philip Roth, Fiction, Nathan Zuckerman Pages: 4 (1194 words) Published: May 15, 2005
Philip Roth - Master of the "Double Identity" because he suffers from one

What influences one's identity? Is it their homes, their parents, their religion, or maybe where they live? When do they get one? Do they get it when they understand right from wrong, or when they can read, or are they born with it? Everyone has one and each identity is unique, or is it? In literature, (or life) religion plays a large role in a character's identity. However, sometimes the writer's own religion and personal experiences shapes the character's identity more than his/her imagination does. A person's religion can play a big role in one's identity. Throughout his works, Philip Roth explores the theme of identity doubles. Roth's portrayal of identity formation in his characters is directly inspired by his own identity; his life. One of the most obvious examples of Roth's art imitating life is in two of his books naming the main characters after none other than himself. It was among some of the many startling gestures in his career; in Deception (1990) he

referred to the main character as Philip and in Operation Shylock (1993) he made reference to the main character as Philip Roth. In her article titled, "Philip Roth's Fictions of Self Exposure", Debra Shostak remarks how odd it is for an author to outwardly make reference to themselves when most authors want avoid any personal association with their work other than writing it, she further points out that Roth intentionally writes this way, making his career out of his reader's inclinations toward "biographical interpretations":

Few writers dare to name themselves at the center of their inventions, which is why it is so arresting to find a work of fiction that pronounces its author's name within the text. Because readers are frequently tempted, from either prurient interest or more impartial motives, to discern autobiography in a fictional narrative, most writers of fiction seem to labor out of modesty ,...

Cited: Royal. Derek, Parker "Texts, Lives and Bellybuttons: Philip Roth 's Operations Shylock and the Renegotiation of Subjectivity, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Fall2000, Vol. 19, Issue 1
Roth. Philip. Author 's Note, Reading Myself and Others, expanded Ed. New York: Penguin, 1985, pp. ix-x.
Roth. Philip. Patrimony: A True Story. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991. Pg 237
Roth. Philip. Sabbath 's Theater. Boston Houghton Mifflin,1995. pg 414
Shostak. Debra ."Philip Roth 's Fictions of Self Exposure" Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies Fall 2000, Vol. 19, Issue 1
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