Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.
Philip Roth, a longtime friend and an early contributor to the magazine, died last week at age eighty-five. Roth’s influence on American letters is staggering, and it didn’t take long for the remembrances, appreciations, and obituaries to pour in from every publication imaginable.
This week, to honor Roth, we bring you his Art of Fiction interview, from our Fall 1984 issue; his novella Goodbye, Columbus, from our Autumn–Winter 1958–1959 issue; and a special bonus episode of our podcast, where we share a recording of Roth’s speech from our 2010 Revel, when he was given the Hadada, our award for lifetime achievement.
Philip Roth, The Art of Fiction No. 84
Issue no. 93 (Fall 1984)
It’s all the art of impersonation, isn’t it? That’s the fundamental novelistic gift … I am a writer writing a book impersonating a writer who wants to be a doctor impersonating a pornographer—who then, to compound the impersonation, to barb the edge, pretends he’s a well-known literary critic. Making fake biography, false history, concocting a half-imaginary existence out of the actual drama of my life is my life. There has to be some pleasure in this job, and that’s it. To go around in disguise. To act a character. To pass oneself off as what one is not. To pretend. The sly and cunning masquerade.
By Philip Roth
Issue no. 20 (Autumn–Winter 1958–1959)
The first time I saw Brenda she asked me to hold her glasses. Then she stepped out to the edge of the diving board and looked foggily into the pool; it could have been drained, myopic Brenda would never have known it. She dove beautifully, and a moment later she was swimming back to the side of the pool, her head of short-clipped auburn hair held up, straight ahead of her, as though it were a rose on a long stem. The rose glided dry to the edge and then it was beside me. “Thank you,” she said, her eyes watery though not from the water. She extended a hand for her glasses but did not put them on until she turned and headed away. I watched her move off. Her hands suddenly appeared behind her. She caught the bottom of her suit between thumb and index finger and flicked what flesh had been showing back where it belonged. My blood jumped.
Time Has Stood Still: Philip Roth (1933–2018)
By The Paris Review
Before Philip Roth was an American icon, he published one of his first short stories in The Paris Review, in 1958. In 2010, he received the Hadada, our award for lifetime achievement. Listen to his acceptance speech.
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