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The Human Stain [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Philip Roth
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4. August 2005

It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town an ageing classics professor, Coleman Silk is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real ruth about Silk would astonish even his most virulent accuser.

Coleman Silk has a secret, one which has been kept for fifty years from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman. It is Zuckerman who stumbles upon Silk's secret and sets out to reconstruct the unknown biography of this eminent, upright man, esteemed as an educator for nearly all his life, and to understand how this ingeniously contrived life came unravelled. And to understand also how Silk's astonishing private history is, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, 'magnificently' interwoven with 'the larger public history of modern America'.

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The Human Stain + American Pastoral + Portnoy's Complaint (Roman)
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  • Taschenbuch: 384 Seiten
  • Verlag: Vintage; Auflage: New ed. (4. August 2005)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0099282194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099282198
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13 x 2,5 x 19,8 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.1 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (49 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 10.807 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

Mehr über den Autor

Philip Roth ist Träger der wichtigsten US-amerikanischen Literaturpreise und hoch geehrt von der internationalen Schriftstellervereinigung P.E.N. Oft wird er in einem Atemzug mit Faulkner, Bellow und Dos Passos genannt. Der 1933 in Newark, New Jersey, geborene Autor mit europäisch-jüdischem Hintergrund schreibt unermüdlich, schonungslos und in drastischer Sprache über seine Landsleute. Das erste Buch mit Short Storys erschien 1959. Die folgenden Romane und Erzählungen über die jüdische Mittelklasse der Nachkriegszeit, über ihre Beziehungen, Zwänge und Neurosen, lösten oft Skandale aus. Bis 1992 unterrichtete Roth an verschiedenen Universitäten. Liebe, Sexualität und Tod sind bis heute die Themen seines Werks. Philip Roth lebt - nach Stationen in Rom, Chicago, London und New York - in Connecticut.


Athena College was snoozing complacently in the Berkshires until Coleman Silk--formerly "Silky Silk", undefeated welterweight pro-boxer--strode in and shook the place awake. This faculty dean sacked the deadwood, made lots of hot new hires, including Yale-spawned literary-theory wunderkind Delphine Roux, and irritated so many people for so many decades that now, in 1998, they have all turned on him. Silk's character assassination is partly owing to what the novel's narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, calls "the Devil of the Little Place--the gossip, the jealousy, the acrimony, the boredom, the lies".

But shocking, intensely dramatised events precipitate Silk's crisis. He remarks of two students who never showed up for class, "Do they exist or are they spooks?" They turn out to be black, and lodge a bogus charge of racism exploited by his enemies. Then, at 71, Viagra catapults Silk into "the perpetual state of emergency that is sexual intoxication", and he ignites an affair with an illiterate janitor, Faunia Farley, 34. She's got a sharp sensibility, "the laugh of a barmaid who keeps a baseball bat at her feet in case of trouble", and a melancholy voluptuousness. "I'm back in the tornado", Silk exults. His campus persecutors burn him for it--and his main betrayer is Delphine Roux.

In a short space, it's tough to convey the gale-force quality of Silk's rants, or the odd effect of Zuckerman's narration, alternately retrospective and torrentially in the moment. The flashbacks to Silk's youth in New Jersey are just as important as his turbulent forced retirement, because it turns out that for his entire adult life, Silk has been covering up the fact that he is a black man. (If this seems implausible, consider that the famous New York Times book critic Anatole Broyard did the same thing.) Young Silk rejects both the racism that bars him from Woolworth's counter and the Negro solidarity of Howard University. "Neither the they of Woolworth's nor the we of Howard" is for Coleman Silk. "Instead the raw I with all its agility. Self-discovery--that was the punch to the labonz.... Self-knowledge but concealed. What is as powerful as that?"

Silk's contradictions power a great Philip Roth novel, but he's not the only character who packs a punch. Faunia, brutally abused by her Vietnam vet husband (a sketchy guy who seems to have wandered in from a lesser Russell Banks novel), scarred by the death of her kids, is one of Roth's best female characters ever. The self-serving Delphine Roux is intriguingly (and convincingly) nutty, and any number of minor characters pop in, mouth off, kick ass, and vanish, leaving a vivid sense of human passion and perversity behind. You might call it a stain. --Tim Appelo


"The Human Stain pulses with the strengths that make Roth a prime contender for the status of the most impressive novelist now writing in and about America" (Sunday Times)

"One of his very best... There are passages of such sustained brilliance here that I found myself going over them again and again in gaping disbelief. An extraordinary book - bursting with rage, humming with ideas, full of dazzling sleights of hand" (Sunday Telegraph)

"The Human Stain is a novel so furious in its telling, with a plot so intricate in its construction that it is infused with a kind of diabolic joy. A masterpiece" (Mail on Sunday)

"One of the most beautiful books I've ever read" (Red)

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7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen A disappointing end to a trilogy. 24. Mai 2000
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Philip Roth's Human Stain shocked me, not with its subject-matter, which I think is by now well known, but by its often amateurish construction. If I didn't know the author's name, I would think I was reading a first novel, one that showed promise but whose author clearly needed time to grow. The characters in this book feel more like ideas than humans. We are told by the author, or rather the narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, what they are like rather than being shown. They carry none of the intense aura of flesh and blood that such recent Roth creations as Merry Levov and Mickey Sabbath did. His main villains are, in fact, nearly ludicrous caricatures: an angry Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD, and an angry, lonely, 29-year-old female professor of French. While the plot is quite interesting, I never felt any kinship with any of the actors in the drama, and thus found it a struggle to continue reading at times. Roth, of course, can still weave together lyrical, beautful paragraphs, but in this particular case I often found myself wondering to what end. This is surprising to me, particularly as I count Roth among my favorite authors, and consider his work of the nineties to be by and large brilliant. I particularly loved American Pastoral, Operation Shylock, and Patrimony, and also had a warm spot for Sabbath's Theater. I Married A Communist seemed a drop-off to me, but nowhere nearly as distressing as that of the Human Stain. Here's hoping a better novel comes out in 2001.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Secrets and lies in the search for self 12. Juni 2000
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The Human Stain is not the best of recent Roth (but then there are few contemporary novels from whatever country as impressive as Sabbath's Theater or American Pastoral). However, it is confirmation that Roth is one of the most necessary of contemporary writers.
This concludes a trilogy of loosely related novels taking a personal examination of important events from post WWII American history. Each is narrated by Nathan Zuckerman (Roth's altar ego), and again Zuckerman is present, but - generally - not intrusive.
Set against the backdrop of the Lewinsky affair, Coleman's own fall from his position as Professor of Classics and dean of a department for a "racist" remark is a tragedy, and filled with anger, on behalf of his friend, Zuckerman traces Silk's life, and his final days (including an affair with a cleaner at the University).
Roth's writing has a passion. His prose may not be smooth and elegant, but there is real emotion underpinning it. Anger at the nature of modern society, the dumbing down, the compartmentalising of people.
Roth's characters are more rounded than in the first Zuckerman trilogy. His subjects now seem real. His writing about a writer, and his problems writing seems to be behind him.
This is a book about learning, about ignorance, about dignity, about shame.
It can be contrasted with the cool prose of JM Coetzee's Disgrace, winner of the Booker Prize in the UK. This novel looks at the fall of an academic after an affair with a student. It is a well written but cold novel. No-one can accuse Roth/Zuckerman of writing cold fiction.
The novel is uneven, but there is much that is poetic in the midst of the righteous anger.
Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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The Human Stain is better than 98% of the dreck that gets published these days, but since I believe that Roth is the greatest American writer, ever, this book gets judged against his other works -- thus only four stars. Roth seems to have begun with a notebook of thoughts and observations, turned them into brilliant prose, and then constructed a plot and characterizations around that prose. The result is a dozen or so interesting but thinly developed characters, including even Coleman Silk, the main protagonist. After all, 360 pages is hardly enough to develop this many characters.
The book also purports to be a commentary on the issues of race and political correctness in the late 90s. God knows we don't need another OJ book, but how can you comment on race in the 90s without mentioning OJ? Further, the book is set with the Clinton/Lewinsky matter in the background, but apart from four or five pages of an overheard dialogue and a few other observations sprinkled here and there (including the dead-on observation that Monica and her generation are so proud of their shallowness), the books leaves it alone.
Although Zuckerman isn't the lout that Rabbit Angstrom was, I would have appreciated Rabbit's take on the state of the union in 2000. I was hoping that Zuckerman could have filled the void left by Rabbit's death, but it was not to be.
Read this book anyway!
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Angry indictment on contemporary society. 3. Januar 2002
The sheer brilliance of Roth's prose is a pleasure in itself. It rolls lightly and naturally. There is nothing forced and viscous about the flow and none of the I'm-consciously-trying-to-(over)describe-things-as-a-writer syndrome. The disgraced former college dean Coleman Silk is the protagonist of the novel. He is an incognito escapee from his original African American background and its defining forces. He has been living for decades as his own creation, a white Jew of Russian origin, and has had a highly successful academic career. In achieving his goals he has been single-minded to the point of unscrupulousness. His wife and children are unaware of his true identity. His career has ended in ignominy following false accusations of racism. Only Silk can appreciate the cruel irony of this. His wife dies of a stroke due to resulting stress. He starts an affair with a poor (apparently) illiterate woman half his age and begins a life alienated from his hitherto self-made one. Silk had steamrollered numerous colleagues in order to achieve what he wanted as a dean of faculty and so they jump on the bandwagon when the opportunity presents itself to avenge themselves on him. The newly-established virtues of the age are reduced to instruments of politicking in the process. His new relationship becomes the focus of yet another inquisition. Roth lashes out at the falseness of the new conventions and political correctness. Everything ends as an ironic tragedy. The theme seems to be the ultimate futility of striving for the real thing. There is a multitude of characters and some remain somewhat underdeveloped. Maybe this itself is part of the message i.e. a person's knowledge of himself/herself and others is destined to be incomplete and superficial and can be based only on the 'evidence' presented. Les Farley, for example, is like something cobbled together in a DIY store. Overall though the book is highly recommendable.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Super fast!
Thank you so much.
Super fast shipment - good quality! Article was shipped as described. Will order stuff here again.
Vor 7 Monaten von Finja Desler veröffentlicht
5.0 von 5 Sternen Überragend.
The Human Stain war erst das zweite Buch, das ich von Philip Roth gelesen habe, die Kunde von seinem Ruhm und seiner Sprachgewalt hat mich erst spät ereilt, und mit jedem Mal,... Lesen Sie weiter...
Vor 18 Monaten von Wolfgang Goederle veröffentlicht
5.0 von 5 Sternen Gutes Buch
Dies ist ein wirklich gutes Buch, spannend bis zum Schluß, wunderschöne Sprache und eine detailierte Charakterstudie. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 21. März 2011 von F. Köster
5.0 von 5 Sternen "What else grandiose are you planning, Coleman Brutus? Whom next are...
"It was the summer when a president's penis was on everyone's mind, and life, in all its shameless impurity, once again confounded America" (3). Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 24. Oktober 2009 von Michael Dienstbier
5.0 von 5 Sternen A gift of prose & plot
Not only does Philip Roth convince with his sonorous, often enlightening prose, but also with a conclusive story that springs from an absurd incident and carries on in a rich and... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 7. Oktober 2008 von Kristin Hogk
5.0 von 5 Sternen Einer der großen amerikanischen Romane der Gegenwartsliteratur
Ach, was waren das noch für traumhaft schöne Zeiten, damals im Jahre 1998. Wir mussten noch über einen amerikanischen Präsidenten namens Bill Clinton... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 10. Oktober 2006 von A. Wolf
4.0 von 5 Sternen HE'S COME UNDONE...
Overall, I liked this book, despite the author's oftentimes wordy and dense prose. It was an interesting look at one man's history, a proud man who was brought to heel and hoisted... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 16. März 2005 von Lawyeraau
5.0 von 5 Sternen A superb novel
Philip Roth's "The Human Stain" is a superb novel, indeed. Masterfully composed and brilliantly narrated, this book, with its highly ingenious approach to ancient Greek... Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 30. März 2003 veröffentlicht
4.0 von 5 Sternen Full of surprises
I write this and have read only half of the book, but I will soon continue. I bought it, because the author was vigorously recommendet by the german literatur critic M. Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 31. März 2002 veröffentlicht
5.0 von 5 Sternen An exciting book
This is a most exciting book, full of tension and suspense. Masterly Phillip Roth describes his characters who all carry a secret which unravel as the story continues and reaches... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 2. Januar 2002 von
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