The Book That Made Me a Reader

The Book That Made Me A Reader

Philip Roth on Thomas Wolfe


 

 

Thomas Wolfe Books
In 1949, when I was sixteen, I stumbled on Thomas Wolfe, who died at thirty-eight in 1938, and who made numerous adolescents aside from me devotees of literature for life.  In Wolfe, everything was heroically outsized, whether it was the voracious appetite for experience of Eugene Gant, the hero of his first two novels, or of George Webber, the hero of his last two. The hero's loneliness, his egocentrism, his sprawling consciousness gave rise to a tone of elegiac lyricism that was endlessly sustained by the raw yearning for an epic existence--for an epic American existence. And, in those postwar years, what imaginative young reader didn't yearn for that?



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Philip Roth

 

In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians for “the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003–2004.” In 2006 and 2007 Roth received PEN’s two most prestigious awards: the PEN/Nabokov Award and the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize.

 

He passed away on May 22nd, 2018.