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Reviewed by Valerie Rouse for Readers' Favorite
Philip Roth – The Continuing Presence: New Essays on Psychological Themes is chock-full of psychological analyses of the main author Philip Roth. Sometimes life imitates art or vice versa. In the case of Mr. Roth, art really imitates life. His written works, including “I Married a Communist” and “The Human Stain,” all mirror some aspect of his personal life. For example, Roth’s wife Claire Bloom is represented in one of his books. However, he was forced to retract her name when the real Claire found out that she was the subject in one of his stories entitled “Deception”. This book also highlighted the eventual breakdown of the marriage, even his ultimatum for Claire to abandon her own daughter to be with him. According to Berman, Claire counteracted his poor treatment of her in her own novel “Leaving a Doll’s House”.
Jane Statlander-Slote compiled this collection of essays critiquing Philip Roth. Each essay is interesting, giving the reader an inner glimpse of this unique personality. I like the fact that Ms. Statlander-Slote utilized an interview format for a few of the chapters. You don’t feel as bogged down by the literary jargon utilized by some of the essay writers. This book is not for everyone. Persons who have a love for psychological issues would more appreciate this book. On a deeper level, I can understand the significance of the writings – to exemplify the narcissistic personality of Philip Roth. However, to the average reader, this literary work may be difficult to digest because of the type of intellectual language used. I recommend this book to readers who have a background in psychology or psychoanalysis.