The Humbling Paperback – 2 Sep 2010
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"A literary colossus, whose ability to inspire, astonish and enrage his readers is undiminished'" (Washington Post)
"There is a clarity, almost a ruthlessness, to his work, which makes the experience of reading any of his books a bracing, wild ride... He is the last of the giants" (The Times)
"Roth...knows no limits, which is part of the fun of reading him" (New Stateman)
"While the other big beasts of his literary generation lost it one by one, Roth has enjoyed a flowering of late form barely seen since Yeats." (Literary Review)
"Roth is no longer a novelist of comic exuberance, but of thoughtful meditation about life and increasingly death; he is our surviving laureate of lateness. His new work will not detain you long, but it will linger" (Telegraph)
Philip Roth's entire oeuvre – 31 books – to be reissued in electric new Vintage jackets for October 2016See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Though fluent and spare, the prose is involving. It's really a 70 page book and can be read in one sitting with ease. Roth has evolved a new style, part Hemingway and part old Roth, and there are few writers in English who can match him. Let the Nobel honour the unread Armenian and little known Cambodian poets - I'll take Roth, slim or fat, bare boned or brawny.
Yes, the plot is typically Rothian - old man, young woman, sex, disappointment, death. Yes, there are some spectacular shots at erotica and yes, the pace of the narrative holds no prisoners, but it just feels like a first draft, kind of empty and rushed and therefore a little shallow. From a hundred other authors I daresay it would be an accomplishment, but not from Roth. To be totally fair, the speed of the narrative can easily trick you into thinking it's exciting, placing it in the "sizzling page-turner" genre, but Roth is much more than that.
Sorry Philip. When's the next one out?
Of course this is Philip Roth [and one of his various literary personas] that we are talking about and so The Humbling quickly ventures into far more peculiar territory. Sometime after his failed suicide attempt, Axler is visited by Pegeen Stapleford, the forty-year-old lesbian daughter of actors that Axler has worked with in the past. Pegeen had recently taken up a teaching post at the local university and is newly single after ending her relationship of six years when her partner decided to transition to become a man. Now, Axler may have lost his acting ability but his seduction skills must be second to none since, before you can even say bi-curious, he and Pegeen are shacking up together. The Humbling then takes shape as an confused odyssey of love, loss, talent, despair and three-ways.
The Humbling is not classic Philip Roth.Read more ›
We have learned to expect vivid sexual encounters from Roth, but the first one in this book has terrible shock value, so much so that- like the woman who witnesses it- we almost don't believe it. The rest of the book also has shock value: Simon Axler eventually begins a very charged affair, which involves the fulfilment of some of the cheesiest stereotypes of male sexual fantasy: 'converting' lesbians to heterosexuality, picking up strange women for threesomes. Yet even here, on what could be such dodgy ground, Roth's ability as a writer leaves you questioning your responses, your own reading of the tale.
Though there is significant sexual content, really the novel is about what happens when you cannot continue to be the person you once were, it is about love and how that comes about, and how awfully it can end (one of my favourite characters in all Roth is Louise, the insanely jealous ex-girlfriend/now stalker whose presence lurks in the background of much of the book). The novel is short, and spare, but it has great power, and when I hold it in my hands I feel excitement that great writers like Roth are producing work during our own lifetime.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As the story itself has been well covered by other readers here, I would simply add that I really enjoyed this and that if you are a fan of good writing and quality lit fiction... Read morePublished 17 months ago by keen reader
Roth knows about fear and joy, loss and hope. One hopes untill the end and forget to breathe at the final curtain.Published 19 months ago by Christina Emmy Lind
How many times has this story been written by other authors? This story about a wealthy, washed-up, once celebrated, old fart having a love affair with a chick 30 years his junior... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Alexander T. Newport
Yes, I do think that AmericanPastoral ought to be required reading but this little elegy to human unhappiness ought to be too. Please read. Read morePublished on 26 July 2013 by Maggie Stanfield
If you're a newcomer to Roth's work, avoid this book altogether. It does a disservice to an impressive and productive two decades of work from the man I consider to be America's... Read morePublished on 3 April 2011 by David Llewellyn
I found that I didn't have much sympathy for, or interest in, either of the two major characters in this book. Fortunately it is a short book. Read morePublished on 26 Feb. 2011 by John G. Millar
This short novel has everything you'd expect from Philip Roth, sharp and concise prose, self-examination, intelligent observation, but somehow it just doesn't hit the heights I... Read morePublished on 18 Jan. 2011 by Mingo Bingo
I find it really difficult to say anything much positive about this book. Axler has lost his magic and cannot find it in order to continue his career as an actor. Read morePublished on 9 Dec. 2010 by Eileen Shaw