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This is a comprehensive and definitive study of the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist Howard Jacobson. It offers lucid, detailed and nuanced readings of each of Jacobson’s novels, and makes a powerful case for the importance of his work in the landscape of contemporary fiction. Focusing on the themes of comedy, masculinity and Jewishness, the book emphasises the richness and diversity of Jacobson’s work. Often described by others as ‘the English Philip Roth’ and by himself as ‘the Jewish Jane Austen’, Jacobson emerges here as a complex and often contradictory figure: a fearless novelist; a combative public intellectual; a polemical journalist; an unapologetic elitist and an irreverent outsider; an exuberant iconoclast and a sombre satirist. Never afraid of controversy, Jacobson tends to polarise readers; but, love him or hate him, he is difficult to ignore. This book gives him the thorough consideration and the balanced evaluation that he deserves.

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This is a study of the contemporary American novelist, Philip Roth. Reading alongside a number of his contemporaries and focusing particularly on his later fiction, it offers a view of Roth as an intellectually adventurous and stylistically brilliant writer who constantly reinvents himself in surprising ways. At the heart of this book are a number of readings of Roth's works both in terms of their relationships with each other and with fiction by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thomas Pynchon, Tim O'Brien, Bret Easton Ellis, Stanley Elkin, Howard Jacobson and Jonathan Safran Foer. The book identifies as a thread running through all of Roth's work the use of paradox, both as a rhetorical device and as an organising intellectual and ideological principle.

Open Access (free)
Philip Roth, antisemitism and the Holocaust
David Brauner

A detailed discussion of Jacobson’s representation of Jewishness, in relation to the work of Philip Roth and in the context of antisemitism and the legacy of the Holocaust in post-war Jewish fiction.

in Howard Jacobson
Open Access (free)
Masculinity, mortaliity and sexual politics
David Brauner

A detailed discussion of Jacobson’s representation of masculinity, in relation to the theme of mortality and in the context of broader issues of sexual politics.

in Howard Jacobson
Open Access (free)
Comedy, the anti-pastoral and literary politics
David Brauner

A detailed discussion of Jacobson’s comic novels, focusing on the development of his comic theory and practice in relation to the anti-pastoral tradition and in the context of literary politics.

in Howard Jacobson
Open Access (free)
David Brauner

An overview of Jacobson’s career, the critical reception of his novels, and the structure of the book, setting out the range of different roles that he performs: novelist; critic; journalist; and public intellectual.

in Howard Jacobson
Open Access (free)
David Brauner

A sketching out of two potential directions for future scholarship on Jacobson to take: an analysis of the importance of Manchester in and to Jacobson’s fiction; and an analysis of Jacobson as a transatlantic Jewish writer.

in Howard Jacobson
Abstract only
David Brauner

This book offers an overview of the career of Philip Roth, with particular emphasis on his later work, and an assessment of his contribution to contemporary American fiction. Rather than attempting to survey all of Roth's work, it concentrates on the second half of his career, from the publication of The Ghost Writer (1979) to The Plot Against America (2004). The book considers some of the ways in which Roth's generic experimentation 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. Moreover, it discusses Roth's treatment of morality, mortality and masculinity in what it considers to be his masterpiece, Sabbath's Theater (1995), comparing it with a short story by Stanley Elkin and a novel by Howard Jacobson that share many of its themes.

in Philip Roth
Judging Jews in Zuckerman Bound
David Brauner

Trials are ubiquitous in the fiction of Philip Roth. From Peter Tarnopol's lengthy divorce litigation in My Life as a Man (1974) to the historical court case of John Demjanjuk that dominates the opening of Operation Shylock (1993), the trial is one of Roth's favourite tropes. This chapter argues that the four books which comprise the Zuckerman Bound series – The Ghost Writer (1979), Zuckerman Unbound (1981), The Anatomy Lesson (1983) and The Prague Orgy (1985) – represent a detailed exploration of the ethical and aesthetic conflicts faced by Roth. Focusing on Roth's use of legalistic language in these fictions, it suggests that the trials (the tests and ordeals) which Nathan Zuckerman (the protagonist of all four books) undergoes not only reflect Roth's paradoxical responses to the critical reception of his earlier work by Jewish readers but also function as metaphors for the ways in which, historically, Jews have often judged, and been judged, by themselves and others.

in Philip Roth
Generic experimentation in My Life as a Man, The Counterlife, The Facts, Deception and Operation Shylock
David Brauner

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.

in Philip Roth