Roth Unbound

Roth Unbound: A Writer and his Books, di Claudia Roth Pierpoint (Jonathan Cape) è una sorta di biografia di Philip Roth e di critica dei suoi libri. Tra l'altro parla del profondo rapporto tra lo scrittore americano e Primo Levi. Ian Thomson dice:
"From the late 1950s to the present, says Pierpont, Roth has remained faithful to the theme of America and the vagaries of American Jewish life. Not exclusively, though: his novel Operation Shylock (1993), set partly in Israel, pays anguished if comic tribute to the Italian writer and Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi, whom Roth had long admired.
Roth met Levi in the spring of 1986. If Levi was unprepared for Roth’s engagingly gentle presence, Roth found Levi surprisingly sociable. (“With some people you just unlock,” Roth recalled.) As they said goodbye outside the Italian Cultural Institute in London, Levi told Roth: “You know, this has all come too late.” The encounter nevertheless proved to be one the most important in 20th-century literature. Roth afterwards interviewed Levi for the New York Times and helped to consolidate Levi’s reputation across the Atlantic. Accompanied by Bloom, Roth had called on Levi in September 1986 at the paint and varnish factory outside Turin where he had worked as an industrial chemist. The staff were warned not to mention Portnoy’s Complaint, as Roth was apparently no longer so fond of his “masturbation novel”.
Seven months later, Levi was dead. The effect on Roth of Levi’s suicide in 1987 was “staggering”, Roth told Pierpont, adding: “It hit me like the assassinations of the sixties.” Although Roth had cultivated friendships with other European writers, notably Ivan Klíma and Milan Kundera, his friendship with Levi, Pierpoint says, had gone “remarkably deep”. ft.

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