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The renowned biographer's definitive portrait of a literary titan 'Superlative... definitive and genuinely gripping' SUNDAY TIMES 'Utterly engrossing' EVENING STANDARD 'Compulsively readable... Beautifully written... Definitive' OBSERVER Appointed by Philip Roth and granted complete access and independence, Blake Bailey spent years poring over Roth's personal archive, interviewing his friends, lovers, and colleagues, and engaging Roth himself in breathtakingly candid conversations. The result is an indelible portrait of an American master and of the post-war literary scene. Bailey shows how Roth emerged from a lower-middle-class Jewish milieu to achieve the heights of literary fame, how his career was nearly derailed by his catastrophic first marriage, and how he championed the work of dissident novelists behind the Iron Curtain. Bailey examines Roth's rivalrous friendships with Saul Bellow, John Updike and William Styron, and reveals the truths of his florid love life, culminating in his almost-twenty-year relationship with actress Claire Bloom, who pilloried Roth in her 1996 memoir, Leaving a Doll's House. Tracing Roth's path from realism to farce to metafiction to the tragic masterpieces of the American Trilogy, Bailey explores Roth's engagement with nearly every aspect of post-war American culture. *A 'BOOKS OF 2021' PICK IN THE OBSERVER, GUARDIAN, FINANCIAL TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES, EVENING STANDARD AND NEW STATESMAN*

 

Details

ISBN: 9780224098175
Audience: General
Format: Hardback
Number of Pages: 912
Publication Date: 8 Apr 2021
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Dimensions (cm): 24.2(H) x 16.7(L) x 5.8(W)
Weight (gm): 1622

 

Reviews

Superlative... Bailey's account is definitive and genuinely gripping to boot... He leads us lucidly through a dense palimpsest of overlapping drafts, fictional identities, literary feuds and women. -- Claire Lowdon * Sunday Times *
Compulsively readable... Beautifully written... It is hard to imagine a book that will come up with a more definitive series of answers than this one. -- Tim Adams * Observer *
Bailey's utterly engrossing biography ... shows Roth led a life just as strange and intense as his fictionalised alter egos. -- Tomiwa Owolade * Evening Standard *
It's a miracle that he has published so lucid a book just three years after Roth's death - and one so packed with good anecdotes and jokes... It's an achievement for Bailey to have gained as much distance as he has. -- Blake Morrison * Guardian *
Philip Roth, for all his flaws, for all that I know his legacy will continue to be judged in judgmental times and found wanting, deserves this riveting, serious and deeply intelligent biography. -- David Baddiel * Spectator *
The 19th-century novel lives on. Its name today is Biography; its nature is that of Dostoyevskian magnitude. And Blake Bailey's comprehensive life of Philip Roth - to tell it outright - is a narrative masterwork.' -- Cynthia Ozick * New York Times Book Review *
Unassailable as to fact... clear-eyed... quickly moving... Philip Roth seems as brightly peopled as a Victorian novel. ... What [Bailey] does superbly... is chart Roth's sexual and emotional life, and map its effects on his work. -- Michael Gorra * New York Review of Books *
[A] terrific new biography... Bailey handles...difficult passages with real skill. -- Benjamin Markovits * Daily Telegraph *
Fascinating... Bailey's book is rewarding for those who want to see a diligent biographer illuminate connections between Roth's life and art. -- Max Liu * i *
Bailey is a very good writer and a very good literary biographer... What a story... Along with it comes the man in his wholeness. -- James Parker * Atlantic *

 

Author Biography

Blake Bailey is the author of biographies of John Cheever, Richard Yates, and Charles Jackson. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians, and a finalist for the Pulitzer and James Tait Black prizes. His previous book, The Splendid Things We Planned, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography. He lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter.
Philip Roth: The Biography
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