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Description - The Dying Animal by Philip Roth

'No matter how much you know, no matter how much you think, no matter how much you plot and you connive and you plan, you're not superior to sex' With these words America's most unflaggingly energetic and morally serious novelist launches perhaps his fiercest book. The speaker is David Kepesh, white-haired and over sixty, an eminent TV culture critic and star lecturer at a New York college - as well as an articulate propagandist of the sexual revolution. For years he has made a practice of sleeping with adventurous female students while maintaining an aesthete's critical distance. But now that distance has been annihilated. The agency of Kepesh's undoing is Consuela Castillo, the decorous, humblingly beautiful twenty-four-year-old daughter of Cuban exiles. When he becomes involved with her, Kepesh finds himself dragged helplessly into the quagmire of sexual jealousy and loss. In chronicling the themes of eros and mortality, licence and repression, freedom and sacrifice. The Dying Animal is a burning coal of a book, filled with intellectual heat and not a little danger.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099422693
ISBN-10: 0099422697
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 12mm)
Pages: 176
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 5-Apr-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - The Dying Animal by Philip Roth

UK Kirkus Review » 'The dying animal' is a quote from a Yeats poem. Roth's protagonist, David Kapesh, is seventy, an academic and cultural critic, who has spent a lifetime seducing his students. We have met him before in The Breast and in The Professor of Desire. Now, in his old age, he seduces a student called Consuela Castillo, the lush daughter of wealthy Cuban emigres. The jacket of the book is decorated with a Modigliani, Reclining Nude, and from Kepesh's description of her (the book is apparently told to an anonymous third party) this is an accurate depiction of her. Above all she has stupendous breasts. But, after decades of carefree libertinism, that has caused his son, aged forty, constantly to reproach him for ruining his life, Kepesh finds himself for the first time wracked with fatal jealousy: 'A young man will find her and take her away. And from me, who fired up her senses, who gave her her stature, who was the catalyst to her emancipation and prepared her for him. How do I know a young man will take her away? Because I once was the young man.' This tells you the dilemma of the narrator, but also of the reader. Essentially an old man's jealousies and waning - or waned - powers are tragic but predictable. There is an uneasy sense that this is not so much a work of art as a testament, and its honesty, compared with the tricksiness and irony of much of his work, is disturbing. Roth has exhibited in his wonderful late books a tendancy to indulge in theses about society. In particularly - American Pastoral, this worked well. Here, his views on sexual freedom and contemporary shallowness and rather banal, even slightly seedy. The Professor of Desire seems to have become the professor of prurience. There are some nasty shocks in the book, as when the generously made Consuela, long after they have parted, asks him to come and see her; she has breast cancer and is about to have a mastectomy. This seemed to me a particularly artificial turn of events. The Dying Animal is short and it has some very good things, as you would expect from Roth, but overall it is disappointing in comparison with his four previous books. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Philip Roth

In 1997, Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians' Prize for "the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004." Recently Roth received PEN's two most prestigious prizes: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award 'for a body of work...of enduring originality and consummate craftmanship' and in 2007 the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for achievement in American Fiction, given to a writer whose 'scale of achievement over a sustained career...places him or her in the highest rank of American literature.' Roth is the only living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. The last of the eight volumes is scheduled for publication in 2013.

Books By Philip Roth

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American Pastoral by Philip Roth
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Indignation by Philip Roth
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