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In History's GripPhilip Roth's Newark Trilogy$
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Michael Kimmage

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804781824

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804781824.001.0001

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At History's Mercy

At History's Mercy

(p.97) Three At History's Mercy
In History's Grip
Stanford University Press

In his Newark trilogy—American Pastoral (1997), I Married a Communist (1998), and The Human Stain (2000)—Philip Roth depicts history as an abstraction that moves through patterns larger than any individual story and less general than fortune or circumstance. As a place that is very often left, Newark is stereotypically American, whose destruction lies at the core of Roth's three novels. The city's decline is connected to the July 1967 riots, the national meaning of which is peripheral to the Newark trilogy. These riots resulted in the loss of neighborhood life, of communal memory, of a city that immigrants, particularly blacks, had done much to build. Like literacy, muteness is one of the trilogy's master themes, reflected in its opposite—the assertive plenitude of narrative, storytelling, and literature.

Keywords:   Newark trilogy, American Pastoral, I Married a Communist, The Human Stain, Philip Roth, history, muteness, immigrants, riots, destruction

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