- Taschenbuch: 384 Seiten
- Verlag: Vintage; Auflage: New ed (5. April 2001)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0099282194
- ISBN-13: 978-0099282198
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 12,9 x 2,3 x 19,8 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 50 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 22.096 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Human Stain (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 6. Oktober 2016
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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
"An extraordinary book - bursting with rage, humming with ideas, full of dazzling sleights of hand'" (Sunday Telegraph)
"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)
"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 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)
"One of the most beautiful books I've ever read" (Red)
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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!
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. Also, in Les Farley, and Ernestine Silk Roth has created two of his most memorable characters.
Many years ago Roth wrote a hilarious baseball novel, The Great American Novel. Roth's recent work (beginning I feel with Deception) has been of an extremely high quality. And it is with this body of work, rather than in that thirty year old fiction, that Roth has finally caught that mythical beast. The cumulative work of the new Zuckerman trilogy and Sabbath's Theater truly are Great American Novels.
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