Sabbath's Theater Paperback – 5 Sep 1996
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"A post-war American masterpiece" (Daily Telegraph)
"This is a wickedly splendid book" (Frank Kermode)
"In time this will be seen as Roth's best novel so far" (Guardian)
"For me, the book of the year - maybe the decade - is Sabbath's Theater...funny...moving, imaginative, deep... A masterpiece" (Times Literary Supplement)
"Sabbath explodes some mad genie out of his bottle... [Sabbath's Theater] has more firestorming prose than any other novel I have read this year" (Observer)
Reissued in electric new backlist style, Sabbath's Theater is Philip Roth's astounding masterpieceSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The theme of Sabbath's Theater has been done before: a lecherous, unconventional man railing at the ravages of time and the dwindling of the sexual potency by which he has defined his very existence. Most of the time, however, this theme is poorly written, the characters trite and cliched. Roth, not surprisingly, invests this novel with more lyrical energy, more sexual frankness, sharper comedy and deeper seriousness than has any writer before.
Although Roth does make use of both flashback and association, the plot of Sabbath's Theater is brisk. Mickey Sabbath, who went off to sea at the age of eighteen just so he could visit the world's brothels, is a loathsome character. His abiding philosophy of life is simply to do whatever he pleases and never to worry about pleasing anyone else. Nothing phases him, in fact, he seems to take pleasure in his uncanny ability to antagonize others. Their outrage seems to be only a reflection of his own self-worth. Mickey Sabbath manages to hurt, deceive, betray, offend, insult and abuse just about everyone with whom he comes into contact.
A true degenerate, Mickey Sabbath may seem to lack any sense of moral conscience. Although anyone meeting such a character would deny it, Sabbath actually spent an idyllic childhood on the Jersey shore; a childhood that was shattered by a traumatic dual loss. In an effort to deal with his loss and the resultant pain, to stamp out the brutality of life, and, to affirm his own sense of aliveness, Sabbath turns to carnal pleasures with a vengeance, indulging each and every sexual impulse.Read more ›
The novel is narrated in flashback by 64-year old ex-puppeteer and (still) sex-obsessed Mickey Sabbath, and takes us (in loving detail) through the fractious and turbulent journey of Sabbath's various lives and loves. Roth is typically uncompromising in creating what is essentially a loathsome hero, one who has embarked on a succession of adulterous relationships, whilst spurning two marriages and apparently betraying just about every friendship that ever came the way of anti-hero Sabbath. But, gradually as the tale unfolds, it becomes apparent that there are facets to this abomination that are not wholly repugnant, none more than Sabbath's underlying maternal love and his hero-worship for his soldier brother Morty, sadly lost fighting the Japanese in 1944 whilst Mickey was still only a teenager.
The concluding sections of the novel, where Mickey negotiates potential sites for his own burial plot and where he happens upon a lost centenarian cousin, thereby finding another route for communicating with the memories of his long-lost brother, are particularly affecting and poignant.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Through the eyes and thoughts of the protagonist, Micky Sabbath, Philip Roth opens a dark box for us to peer into, if we dare, where we can examine some as yet to be discovered, or... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Philip Mayo
I am an enthusiastic fan of Roth's work. 'The Human Stain' is one of my all time favourite novels: I think I bore my friends by rabbiting on about its worth. Read morePublished on 13 Aug. 2014 by ABL
It was not what I expected. I was totally engrossed in a character who seems despicable yet he charms and fascinates and seduces you into reading . Sexy, sad and absurd.Published on 10 Jun. 2014 by M Tincombe
Didn't enjoy this at all. I wanted to give Philip Roth a try as I know he is highly regarded by many. Read morePublished on 2 Jun. 2014 by Samsgran