Philip Roth is calling it quits

Philip Roth is calling it quits

In an announcement that mostly escaped American attention, mostly because it was made in French, novelist Philip Roth has quietly called an end to his long writing career, having run out of inspiration now that Jewish people are all uniformly happy and well-adjusted. Or, in a more accurate explanation, now that Roth "no longer feel[s] this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life," with the author adding that—upon completion of what will prove to be his final work, 2010's Nemesis—he went back and reread all of his past novels and decided he'd accomplished everything he possibly could with the art form.

"I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing,” Roth is quoted (and translated) as saying. “And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: “I did the best I could with what I had.” This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had. And after that, I decided that I was done with fiction. I do not want to read, to write more. I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote and I read. With the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough!"

Of course, Roth has long been crankily pessimistic (even for Philip Roth) about the future of literature, grousing since the turn of the millennium that the audience for novels would only become smaller and more "cultic" as attention spans grow shorter and shorter, and lamenting that the numbers of people who actually read books will be roughly the equivalent of those who currently read Latin poetry. But it seems the Portnoy's Complaint author is truly done with it himself—and just as masturbation literature was really hitting its stride.   

[via Salon]

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