David Kepesh, the aforementioned professor, towards the end of "Professor of Desire," contemplates the introductory lecture he is to deliver to his class on comparative literature:
"Indiscreet, unprofessional, unsavory as portions of these disclosures will surely strike some of you, I nonetheless would like, with your permission, to go ahead now and give an open account to you of the life I formerly led as a human being. I am devoted to fiction, and I assure you that in time I will tell you whatever I may know about it, but in truth nothing lives in me like my life."
This passage may as well be an introduction to this book, one of Roth's most potent and stirring novels from his earlier days. Through the chronicles of David Kepesh's early life, Roth examines the paradoxes of love and desire, the bridges between literature and life, and our nearly-lunatic search for identity.
In this book, we follow Roth's familiar character David Kepesh from his childhood in the Catskills hotel owned by his parents, to a post-college year of sexual freedom in Scandinavia, to a tempestuous/disastrous marriage to Helen Baird, followed by a winter of despair, and concluding with his relationship with Claire Ovington, marked by a love that is blemished by waning desire.
In the end, although more questions are posed than can ever be answered, Roth's novel can resonate with anyone who has ever grappled with the mysteries of love and self-discovery - namely, everyone. And along the way, the reader can revel in the wit, wry humor, and intellect adored by every Roth fan.