It is 1988, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, it is the last year of the life of the forcibly retired, disgraced, widowed professor Coleman Silk, whose own tragic exposure is played out against the background of the Clinton revelations.Coleman's secret has been kept for fifty years from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman, who sets out - after Coleman's suspicious ...
It is 1988, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, it is the last year of the life of the forcibly retired, disgraced, widowed professor Coleman Silk, whose own tragic exposure is played out against the background of the Clinton revelations.Coleman's secret has been kept for fifty years from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman, who sets out - after Coleman's suspicious death in a car crash with his mistress - to understand how his eminent, upright man, esteemed as an educator for nearly all his life, had fabricated his identity and how that cannily controlled life came unravelled. Set in 1990s America where conflicting moralities and ideological divisions are made manifest through public denunciation and rituals of purification, THE HUMAN STAIN concludes Philip Roth's eloquent trilogy of post-war American lives that are as tragically determined by the nation's fate as by the 'human stain' that so ineradicably marks human nature.
Choose your shipping method in Checkout. Costs may vary based on destination.
New. 0375726349 Ask about discounted shipping available when multiple items are purchased at the same time. FAST, RELIABLE, GUARANTEED and happily SHIPPED WITHIN 1 BUSINESS DAY! INTERNATIONAL: IF item is heavy additional shipping cost MAY be required.
Choose your shipping method in Checkout. Costs may vary based on destination.
New. B-format paperback. 384 p. Intended for college/higher education audience. In Stock. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Brand New, Perfect Condition, allow 4-14 business days for standard shipping. To Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. protectorate, P.O. box, and APO/FPO addresses allow 4-28 business days for Standard shipping. No expedited shipping. All orders placed with expedited shipping will be cancelled. Over 3, 000, 000 happy customers.
In a long writing career, Philip Roth has progressively deepened his themes and his understanding of human character as well as his skill at the novelist's craft. His novel, "The Human Stain" is both entertaining and thought-provoking. It is a worthy addition to American fiction of the early 21st century.
The title of the book sets forth its primary theme. A major part of human life is tied to human sexuality and to physicality. People ignore or downplay this aspect at their peril. This theme is reflected throughout the book. Roth, even more than John Updike and with a different perspective than Updike, writes with a passion about the central role of sexuality in human life.
The story unfolds against a backdrop of the Clinton impeachment hearings. The chief protagonist of the book is Coleman Silk, a 71 year old former professor of Classics and Dean of a small New England College. Silk has resigned from the college as a result of an investigation over a classroom remark that some found racist. His wife of many years has died, and Silk has become romantically involved with a 34 year-old divorced woman with little education who works as a janitor in the college. Silk's former colleagues, his four children and his acquaintances are leery of his affair. Silk befriends Nathan Zukerman, an alter ego who appears in many Roth novels, who tells Silk's story.
Silk has become highly successful but has done so in part by denying important components of his life. He is of African-American ancestry but light enough to pass. (Many American novels utilize the theme of "passing" for white.) He callously walks away from his family at the age of 27 in order to marry a white woman for fear that she would reject him if she were aware of his ancestry. He never reveals the secret. Roth's book suggests in a poignant way how difficult it is for one person to claim to know another.
The theme of individual self-determination in life choices, as opposed to following the course of the group into which one was born, is another major theme of the book. Roth develops it well, with all its pain and ambiguity, in exploring the choices Zuckerman has made. Many people probably would assert that people need to stay and develop within their group. This isn't Roth. He seems to me more quintessentially American by celebrating the room modern secular democracy gives people to change and follow their stars. But, very simply, this is a different matter from denying one's origins altogether.
The book is full of great scenes, particularly of Coleman Silk's early fascination with boxing, and of literary allusions. There are allusions to Homer and Euripides, as befitting a professor of classics. Euripides, with his naturalism and recognition of the power of sexuality, is an excellent choice for emphasis in this book. There are also fine passages emphasizing the power of music, including a lovely description of Coleman's 19-year old lover, when he was young, dancing in his college flat. Mahler's music, with its feel for the earth, also figures prominently as does the powerhouse pianist, Yefim Bronfman.
Coleman's 34 year old lover is well described. She helps teach Coleman, very late in his life, the importance of sexuality and of human contact, to try to see and accept things for what they are, and to understand the inevitability of change.
Readers who enjoy this book might also enjoy Saul Bellow's novel, "Ravelstein" which raises many of the same issues. Bellow's novel tells the story of a philosophy professor who, like Silk, specializes in the ancient Greeks -- Plato rather than Euripides. Both books are narrated by a friends of the protagonists who are novelists and who request them to write narratives to remember their lives. Both involve stories of sexual passion and speak of the promises and difficulties offered in the United States where people can, in a real sense, become who they are. Roth's novel and Bellow's novel, the products of two of our finest writers in their old age, present good pictures of the potential of American life in our modern day.
May 6, 2010
Don't Miss Roth's Best
Personally, I don't care for "Portnoy's Complaint". But I am So glad I didn't let that keep me from reading this book- which strikes me as a true masterpiece. It addresses a variety of issues of modern times- perhaps most notably race, but also others (such as women's issues and the Viet Nam War) . Roth really opened my eyes about some of the challenges that face veterans returning to this country. The characters are as multidimensional as the issues. A great read. Don't miss.
May 12, 2008
I guess I'm not a fan
If you like Philip Roth's works then this is a really good one. If you have never read one of his books then this is a good one to start with, so that you know he can write well. As for the story... The book seemed far more a showcase for his ability to write a novel, using all the elements as dutifully taught by various schools of thought, than it was about anything; that he was more interested in toying with form than with readability and plot.
Sep 27, 2007
I had seen the movie on TV and decided to get the book. The movie was well acted and followed the book enough to make a good movie but reading the book was much better. If you can, see the movie and read the book, in that order. Adaria
Alibris, the Alibris logo, and Alibris.com are registered trademarks of Alibris, Inc.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.