F404 Spring 2019 “Sheer Playfulness and Deadly Seriousness:” Philip Roth’s Early Work
Tuesdays, 9:40–11:05, Mar. 26–May 14
Instructor: Cameron Menchel
Philip Roth was one of the finest writers of his generation. In this course we will begin with his debut novella Goodbye, Columbus (1959) and one of the stories also included in that book, “The Conversion of The Jews.” Goodbye, Columbus heralded the arrival of a major literary talent, one equipped with a fresh—and often hilarious—take on the Jewish-American experience. We will also read The Ghost Writer (1979), a provocative meditation on the challenges that a young author encounters in seeking a mentor and violating tribal taboos. This short novel, published originally in two installments in The New Yorker, is now widely considered to be one of his best. Roth once said in an interview, “Sheer playfulness and deadly seriousness are my closest friends.” In reading these early works, we will immerse ourselves in these fertile and captivating friendships.
Cameron Menchel received a BA in English and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the College of William & Mary. He is interested in pursuing graduate study in literature.