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Quotes by Philip Roth

  • American novelist
  • Born March 19, 1933

Philip Milton Roth (March 19, 1933 – May 22, 2018) was an American novelist and short-story writer. Roth's fiction, regularly set in his birthplace of Newark, New Jersey, is known for its intensely autobiographical character, for philosophically and formally blurring the distinction between reality and fiction, for its "sensual, ingenious style" and for its provocative explorations of American identity.Roth first gained attention with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, for which he received the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.


Old age isn't a battle; old age is a massacre.


A Jew without Jews, without Judaism, without Zionism, without Jewishness, without a temple or an army or even a pistol, a Jew clearly without a home, just the object itself, like a glass or an apple.




Is an intelligent human being likely to be much more than a large-scale manufacturer of misunderstanding?




Unless one is inordinately fond of subordination, one is always at war.




Sheer Playfulness and Deadly Seriousness are my closest friends.




With the draft, everybody was involved. Everybody was fodder. When you got to be 21, 22 and graduated from college, for two years your life stopped. If you had been running in the direction of your life, you had to stop and do this other thing which was, if not menacing, just plain boring.




Fear tends to manifest itself much more quickly than greed, so volatile markets tend to be on the downside. In up markets, volatility tends to gradually decline.




Should you protect profits? Yes. But run for the hills? No.




The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.




All that we don't know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing.




Just like those who are incurably ill, the aged know everything about their dying except exactly when.




When you publish a book, it's the world's book. The world edits it.




I cannot and do not live in the world of discretion, not as a writer, anyway. I would prefer to, I assure you - it would make life easier. But discretion is, unfortunately, not for novelists.




Obviously the facts are never just coming at you but are incorporated by an imagination that is formed by your previous experience. Memories of the past are not memories of facts but memories of your imaginings of the facts.




I write fiction and I'm told it's autobiography, I write autobiography and I'm told it's fiction, so since I'm so dim and they're so smart, let them decide what it is or it isn't.




A writer has to be driven crazy to help him to see. A writer needs his poisons.


Literature isn't a moral beauty contest. Its power arises from the authority and audacity with which the impersonation is pulled off; the belief it inspires is what counts.




People are unjust to anger - it can be enlivening and a lot of fun.




Life is just a short period of time in which you are alive.


History... is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.




A Jewish man with parents alive is a fifteen-year-old boy, and will remain a fifteen-year-old boy until they die!




Nothing keeps its promise.

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