Philip Roth: The Counterlife (2614 words)

David Rampton (University of Ottawa)
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The Counterlife (1986) is Philip Roth’s thirteenth novel. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and was rapidly recognized as one of Roth’s most significant achievements. In it, Roth explores all his favourite subjects – sex, love, emotional crises, social constraints, dreams of escape, Jewishness, and the idea of the self as a performance. The Counterlife is one of the Zuckerman novels: i.e., the novels in which Roth’s alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, provides him with the means of re-imagining reality in ways that tease readers out of thought by conflating life and fiction. The book has also been characterized as Roth’s wholehearted embrace of postmodernism, but his interest in the sort of …

Citation: Rampton, David. "The Counterlife". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 September 2009 [https://staging.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=21004, accessed 07 August 2022.]

21004 The Counterlife 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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