Nathan Zuckerman

Nathan Zuckerman

Nathan Zuckerman is a fictional character who appears as the narrator or protagonist of (and often functions as an alter ego in) many of Philip Roth's works of fiction.[1]

Contents

Character

Zuckerman makes his first appearance in the novel My Life As a Man (1974), where he is the product of another fictional Roth creation, the writer Peter Tarnopol (making Zuckerman, in his original form, an "alter-alter-ego"). In later books Zuckerman is given a less indentured form of existence, starting with the 1979 novel The Ghost Writer, where he is the story's protagonist, a writing apprentice on a pilgrimage to cull the wisdom of the reclusive author E. I. Lonoff. In Zuckerman Unbound (1981) he is an established novelist and must deal with the fall-out from his ribald comedic novel Carnovsky. Though wildly successful, the novel has brought to Zuckerman unwanted attention both from readers and his family.[2]

Analysis

The obvious parallels to Roth's own life as a novelist (with the novel Carnovsky a stand-in for Portnoy's Complaint) signaled Roth's burgeoning interest in the relationship between an author and his work. Such meta-fictional concerns would be mined more deeply in Roth's series of 1980s novels, most radically in The Counterlife and Operation Shylock. By the mid-1990s, though, Roth would tamp down on the self-referentiality, and reintroduce Zuckerman as witness and narrator in a trilogy of historical novels: American Pastoral (1997), I Married a Communist (1998), and The Human Stain (2000). Zuckerman also makes an appearance in Salman Rushdie's 1999 novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet, where in an alternate universe it is the literary alter-egos (and their novels) that are real.[3]

Portrayals

Actors who have portrayed Nathan Zuckerman include Mark Linn-Baker (in the 1984 television adaptation of The Ghost Writer)[4] and Gary Sinise (in the 2003 film adaptation of The Human Stain).[5]

Philip Roth's novel Exit Ghost is the ninth in the Zuckerman series; the author says it will be his last Zuckerman novel. The book, published in October 2007, focuses on Zuckerman as an older man, returning to New York City after an extended period of seclusion in the Berkshires.[6]

References

  1. ^ "Philip Roth's 'Ghost' Returns" www.npr.org. September 25, 2007.
  2. ^ Metcalf, Steven. "Zuckerman Unbound" www.slate.com. October 10, 2007.
  3. ^ Patterson, Troy. "Book Review: The Ground Beneath Her Feet" www.ew.com. April 16, 1999.
  4. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0513021/
  5. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000641/
  6. ^ James, Clive. "Falter Ego" www.nytimes.com. October 7, 2007.

External resources


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