The ‘credible incredible and the incredible credible’
Generic experimentation in My Life as a Man, The Counterlife, The Facts, Deception and Operation Shylock
in Philip Roth
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Philip Roth has been both lauded and criticised for what John McDaniel (in the first monograph on Roth, published in 1974) calls his ‘commitment to social realism’. According to McDaniel, Roth's realism is part of a moral vision that indicates ‘an abiding respect for life’. This chapter considers some of the ways in which Roth's generic experimentation, which can be traced from his early novel My Life as a Man (1974), through The Counterlife (1986), The Facts (1988), Deception (1990) and Operation Shylock (1993), appropriates, complicates and finally parodies aspects of both realism and postmodernism, making connections between these texts and works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thomas Pynchon, Tim O'Brien and Bret Easton Ellis.

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