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The Dying Animal

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The Dying Animal Cover

ISBN13: 9780375714122
ISBN10: 037571412x
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 our most unflaggingly energetic and morally serious novelist launches perhaps his fiercest book. The speaker is David Kepesh, white-haired and over sixty, an eminent cultural 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 and humblingly beautiful 24-year-old daughter of Cuban exiles. When he becomes involved with her, Kepesh finds himself dragged — helplessly, bitterly, furiously — into the quagmire of sexual jealousy and loss. In chronicling this descent, Philip Roth performs a breathtaking set of variations on the themes of eros and mortality, license and repression, selfishness and sacrifice. The Dying Animal is a burning coal of a book, filled with intellectual heat and not a little danger.

Review:

"The productivity and urgency of Roth's work for the past decade stand alone in contemporary American fiction....[S]urely dispatches this urgent have rarely been so honed...so compassionate and unforgiving. There isn't an American writer working who can touch him." Charles Taylor, Salon

Review:

"The novella is as brilliantly written, line by line, as any book in Roth's oeuvre, and it's bound to be talked about with gusto." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"[A] taut and ferocious tale....Kepesh may be selfish and manipulative, but Roth has imbued him with profound integrity and blazing intelligence....Virtuosic, riling, and fearless, Roth is the bard of the modern American psyche." Booklist

Review:

"The recent creative surge that has produced some of Roth's best fiction continues with this intense short novel..." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Sorrowful, sexy, elegant....[A] distinguished addition to Roth's increasingly remarkable literary career." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Roth is a mesmerizing writer, whose very language has the vitality of a living organism." The Los Angeles Times

Review:

"This little book delivers a chill that you wouldn't get from a Zuckerman novel." Newsday

Review:

"[A] disturbing masterpiece." The New York Review of Books

Synopsis:

Combining the moral seriousness of his American Trilogy with the furious energy he brought to Sabbath's Theater and The Professor of Desire, Roth performs a virtuosic set of variations on the theme of sexuality and its discontents.

About the Author

In the 1990s Philip Roth won America's four major literary awards in succession: the National Book Critics Circle Award for Patrimony (1991), the PEN/Faulkner Award for Operation Shylock (1993), the National Book Award for Sabbath's Theater (1995), and the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for American Pastoral (1997). He won the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union for I Married a Communist (1998); in the same year he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House. Previously he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Counterlife (1986) and the National Book Award for his first book, Goodbye, Columbus (1959). In 2000 he published The Human Stain, concluding a trilogy that depicts the ideological ethos of postwar America. For The Human Stain, Roth received his second PEN/Faulkner Award as well as Britain's W. H. Smith Award for the Best Book of the Year. In 2001 he received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in fiction, given every six years "for the entire work of the recipient."

What Our Readers Are Saying

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OneMansView, November 27, 2008 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Intimacy – a revenge on death

As noted author Philip Roth has gotten older, so have his main characters, which lead to the themes of aging, death, and diminished capabilities that now predominate in his novels. David Kepesh, a noted NYC university professor, conducts a senior seminar in critical writing called Practical Criticism. The course is a chick magnet which accords perfectly with Kepesh’s near obsession with beautiful younger women. He has an uncanny ability to know which girl in a class is predisposed to becoming intimate with him at the conclusion of the course.

Kepesh had led a conventional life through the 1950s, including being married. But he was profoundly affected by the revolutionary openness of the 60s and was determined to escape a past where men were forced to “cajole, beg, flatter, or insist” on intimacy. It was a time when neither men nor women “had any sense of an erotic birthright.” In his view, marriage for men was “like priests going into the Church: they take the vow of chastity, only seemingly without knowing it until three, four, five years down the line.”

At age sixty-two, Kepesh is totally stunned when twenty-four-year-old Consuela Castillo, an elegant, buxom beauty, shows up in one of his seminars. She becomes his mission in life. At first glance, his dealings with his selected female students seem completely exploitative or one-sided. However, in his view relationships are “not fifty-fifty like a business transaction. It’s the chaos of eros we’re talking about.” There is not much doubt that his relationship with Consuela over the next year and half demonstrates clearly her power advantage. “To give oneself over intimately to a much, much older man provides this sort of younger woman with authority of a kind she cannot get in an arrangement with a younger man. She gets both the pleasures of submission and the pleasures of mastery.”

But having a relationship with such an exquisite creature is not unproblematical for Kepesh. The inescapability of her youthfulness and his aging are always present. The worry that it could all end suddenly engenders a scarcely concealed jealousy, as well as a tendency to want to precipitate an early end to the affair. However, for Kepesh, such intimacy is “the revenge on death. Don’t forget death. … Yes, intimacy is limited in its power. But tell me, what power is greater?” One wonders whether Kepesh is going to have some adaptability issues when he truly becomes elderly.

For many, Kepesh’s obsessions may seem disgraceful; obviously different avenues are chosen by other older individuals to keep feeling alive. But such a response does not delegitimize the work. Kepesh clearly demonstrates his humanity in his behavior towards Consuela some eight years later when she calls upon him for support in her battle against a serious form of cancer – hardly the actions of one who felt taken advantage of. Roth continues to be a writer that explores so well the disconnect between our prurient interests and our inability to come to terms with what real intimacy might look like. Kepesh is a character that has tried to bridge that gap about as well as is possible.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375714122
Author:
Roth, Philip
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Teacher-student relationships
Subject:
Women college students
Subject:
College teachers
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage International
Publication Date:
July 9, 2002
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
176
Dimensions:
8.02x5.18x.49 in. .41 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Dying Animal Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 176 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780375714122 Reviews:
"Review" by , "The productivity and urgency of Roth's work for the past decade stand alone in contemporary American fiction....[S]urely dispatches this urgent have rarely been so honed...so compassionate and unforgiving. There isn't an American writer working who can touch him."
"Review" by , "The novella is as brilliantly written, line by line, as any book in Roth's oeuvre, and it's bound to be talked about with gusto."
"Review" by , "[A] taut and ferocious tale....Kepesh may be selfish and manipulative, but Roth has imbued him with profound integrity and blazing intelligence....Virtuosic, riling, and fearless, Roth is the bard of the modern American psyche."
"Review" by , "The recent creative surge that has produced some of Roth's best fiction continues with this intense short novel..."
"Review" by , "Sorrowful, sexy, elegant....[A] distinguished addition to Roth's increasingly remarkable literary career."
"Review" by , "Roth is a mesmerizing writer, whose very language has the vitality of a living organism."
"Review" by , "This little book delivers a chill that you wouldn't get from a Zuckerman novel."
"Review" by , "[A] disturbing masterpiece."
"Synopsis" by , Combining the moral seriousness of his American Trilogy with the furious energy he brought to Sabbath's Theater and The Professor of Desire, Roth performs a virtuosic set of variations on the theme of sexuality and its discontents.
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