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Philip Roth: Nemeses: Everyman / Indignation / The Humbling / Nemesis

von Philip Roth

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854259,064 (4.29)2
"Published together for the first time as the author intended, Nemeses is a quartet of novels whose terrain is the human body and whose subject, the common experience that terrifies us all"--Publisher description.
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A grand conclusion to a life's work. I remain amazed at Roth's mastery of the English language and his exploration of the interior lives of his characters. ( )
  larrybenfield | Jul 14, 2021 |
Four novels, each of them rather short. In each of them the center is a man, mostly at the end of his life, who is suffering the consequences of a life lived selfishly.
They are good stories, that can serve as examples of how not to live. ( )
  xieouyang | Jan 29, 2019 |
"indignation," due to its length is probably more of a novella than a novel, but there is a lot packed into this depiction of 1950 America. For those of us who lived through the Viet Nam era just a decade or so later (and were the age of Roth's "Indignation" student hero at the time) this little book is a striking reminder of what it was like to worry about being drafted into combat that we were both unprepared for and for which we could not comprehend the necessity.

Most of us were not "indignant" in the sense that Marcus is indignant; as long as there was a military draft we were simply afraid of our immediate future. Even with that potential fate hanging over the heads of America's youth, some find that they are just not suited for college even if that is the only way to avoid going to war. Other, perhaps more patriotic of us, do not opt for that option because we believe in doing our part when it comes to defending this country. Perhaps, too, these were the most naive among us.

Roth captures all of those feelings and contradictions in the character of this strong-principled kosher butcher's son who can no more control his tongue when it comes to confronting authority than he can fly to the moon by flapping his arms. The boy seems like a doomed character almost from the beginning - and a careful reading of the story reveals his ultimate fate well before the final page is reached. What ultimately decides his fate is so trivial a matter that readers of "Indignation" will remember the novel for a long time.

"Indignation" is one of the final pieces of fiction published by Roth before his decision to retire. It is another reminder of how sad - and final - that decision of Roth's was. ( )
  SamSattler | Aug 24, 2014 |
I hadn't read in P. Roth since Portnoy's Complaint back in 1969. Oh, I do think I read The Breast. After that, nothing. But lately I saw his line--"Old age is not a battle; old age is a massacre."--in several places and thought, well maybe, he is looking at real things and might afford me better insight than I currently have into the miseries of aging, being myself 67 going on dead, or so it feels like. So looking for that--some wisdom--I first read Indignation, in a separate volume, before I chanced upon The Library of America's collected works of Philip Roth. I started with the volume for the years 2006-2010 called Nemesis which contains Indignation, Everyman, The Humbling, and Nemesis. It's a nice volume by the way, very portable with smallish but very clear and readable font. A hunk of late Roth. Indignation is about a diligent "good boy" who tries to escape his wacky father by going to a Midwestern college where they have panty raids. Bad things happen to the kid since he is Jewish and a bit of a non-conformist. This all happens around the time of the Korean war. So for Roth it's a bit of a look back. Everyman is about an older guy, like me, in his sixties, who has one life threatening surgery after another and is estranged from his kids. They see him as a degenerate pussy hound (since he abandoned them for a younger woman). And you know the kids could be right; I have a hard time working up sympathy for the guy, though to be sure he doesn't ask for any. The Humbling is about a great actor who loses the ability to act, tries to compensate through an intense sexual liaison with a former lesbian, and know. And finally, Nemesis is about fictional polio epidemic in New Jersey in 1944. There's lots of death and dying in all these volumes, and it's fitting there should be. As the convenient time line of Roth's life, at the back of the volume indicates, Roth would have been 74 in 2007, and if you are not brooding on death at 74 you are probably stroked out or otherwise comatose. I'm not sure it did me any good to read the volume. I mean I feel no wiser. But I did buy another volume of Roth in Library of America series. ( )
  nicktingle | Aug 1, 2013 |
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"Published together for the first time as the author intended, Nemeses is a quartet of novels whose terrain is the human body and whose subject, the common experience that terrifies us all"--Publisher description.

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