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Human stain pdf

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PDF | Philip Roth belongs to the first generation of American novelists for whom a It focuses on The Human Stain (), the novel in which he reflects most. While the centrality of the genre of tragedy to The Human Stain has been consistently acknowledged by critics, the novel has tended to be read simply as an. Racial Passing in Philip Roth's The Human caite.info - Download as PDF File . pdf), Text File .txt) or read online.


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Now, even ordinary deans, I am told, serving as they do in a no man's land between the faculty and the higher administration, invariably make enemies. I hadn't even known that Coleman had grown up some four or five miles away from me in the tiny Essex County town of East Orange, New Jersey, and that, as a graduate of East Orange High, he had been some six years ahead of me in my neighboring Newark school. Sometimes on a Saturday, Coleman Silk would give me a ring and invite me to drive over from my side of the mountain after dinner to listen to music, or to play, for a penny a point, a little gin rummy, or to sit in his living room for a couple of hours and sip some cognac and help him get through what was always for him the worst night of the week. Reading Myself and Others. The label, presumably, is not the truth. E H "aculdade de Letras8-ni3ersidade "ederal de Minas erais!

WordPress Shortcode. Published in: Full Name Comment goes here. Are you sure you want to Yes No. Be the first to like this. No Downloads. Views Total views. Actions Shares. Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. Book details 3. There was no such quid pro quo. It could not be. And yet, after the phone call—leaving the student union, leaving the campus, all the while he was driving in tears back up the mountain—that was exactly what it felt like.

I have done so because this is what the early parts of the novel would have us believe; later, however, we encounter a thorough unraveling of this logic of locatable cause and demonstrable effect. The reader gradu- ally realizes just how much motivation Zuckerman has invented, and how much mapping and patterning he has had to carry out on an inexplicable life.

Now the narrative changes tack, and it is this very inexplicability that is foregrounded. Everyone knows. How what happens the way it does? What underlies the anarchy of the train of events, the uncertainties, the mishaps, the disunity, the shocking irregularities that define human affairs?

Nobody knows, Professor Roux. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing. But while the narrator can freely admit this guilt, and hence allow provisional truth claims to be contextualized by the epistemological uncer- tainty that surfaces in passages such as the above, in the final movement of the novel a more profound problem begins to emerge.

Not for as long as we knew him. This is true. Being a Negro was just never an issue with him. Here the stress on the unlocatability of causes and the inexplicability of actions emphasizes the unknowability of the other person, the very otherness of the other.

But what also begins to suggest itself to Zuckerman in these late passages is something more radical: Understandably, Zuckerman cannot resist attempting to connect the Coleman who revolted against race and family to the Coleman who decided to quit Athena under a racist cloud, supposing that through this linkage some basic questions can be answered: How did such a man as Coleman Silk come to exist?

Stain pdf human

What is it that he was? But finding that such an enquiry leads nowhere, Zuckerman admits his perplexity: All of a sudden, we witness a shift from an epistemological problem to an ontological one. In condemning the gossipers of Athena, Zuckerman has already noted ironically that a label performatively effected upon a person can be thoroughly divorced from any cause: Only a label is required.

The label is the motive. The label is the evidence. The label, presumably, is not the truth. Miller assumes that cause and effect can be known, and for him the inner secrets of humanity, including the key dialectic of free will and determinism, are to be expounded by the keen artistic mind.

This might seem to bring us back, perhaps ironically, to a more Aristotelian view of tragedy—the imitation of an action and not of a character. Zuckerman mostly knows, after all, what Coleman does in his life, if not the reasons why he does it.

Yet what becomes of this promise is another in a long line of discontinuities. Embedded in that blue tattoo was a true and total image of himself. The ineradicable biography was there, as was the prototype of the ineradicable, a tattoo being the very emblem of what cannot ever be removed. The enormous enterprise was also there. The outside forces were there. The whole chain of the unforeseen, all the dangers of exposure and all the dangers of concealment—even the senselessness of life was there in that stupid little blue tattoo.

It seems to enclose all the meaning that the narrative as a whole meditates upon.

Stain pdf human

And yet the coherence offered is illusory: This we can intuit because at this very point we witness perhaps the most abrupt shift in the entire novel: The symbolic tattoo has proven an epistemological dead-end—it is as if Zuckerman cannot decide where else to go after the enclosing totality that it represents. To strengthen this reading, we can look to other examples of potentially all- encompassing symbols in the text.

That the auge u r may hold the promise of wisdom is con- firmed when Zuckerman responds to the presence of the drilling tool a few inches from his face: Here was the origin. Here was the essence. In this instant, the auge u r would seem, like the tattoo before it, to encapsulate the meaning of the entire narrative; and yet that meaning proves more obscure than ever.

Maybe I end up tending to be a little dishonest.

But despite his confidence here, Zuckerman knows nothing, neither about this secret nor the others he has struggled with in his narrative. Roth would seem to be mocking the symbolic mode even while paying homage to it, never more so than in the final two lines of the novel, in which the entire scene becomes an ironic image of purity and peace: Only rarely, at the end of our century, does life offer up a vision as pure and peaceful as this one: The passage within which the phrase occurs has Faunia Farley considering the deficiencies of the hand-raised crow she has become fond of: Not even with sadness.

Nothing to do with disobedience.

Nothing to do with grace or salvation or redemption. The quest for purity a quest Coleman appears to engage in through- out the novel is a fantasy, a lie. It finds its image in the stain, a fundamental mark common to all humans. For her, all forms of metaphysical thinking are at fault for the sins of the world. Once again, a symbolic interpretation is here both imposed, and then undermined, func- tioning as a spatial substitute for the properly temporal meaning of the novel, a meaning embodied in the process of its reading.

Hence modern tragedy, in the hands of playwrights like Miller, became existential in nature. But in Miller, as in Bertolt Brecht and his followers, tragedy retained its instructive role, which for Antonin Artaud, another great theorist of tragedy, was neces- sary for the genre: But in The Human Stain, the tragic pattern is a failed one, as the uncohesive life of the protago- nist defeats the tragic unities, resists becoming a model for instruction, and fails to help us find the right way to live as Miller, writing in , claimed all tragedy must do [10].

Because of this breakdown, the explicit allusions to, and constant emphasis on, tragic tropes and texts throughout the novel can in fact be understood as an invitation to read the text as a critique of tragic coherence achieved either via narrative or symbol , rather than as an embodi- ment of it. And yet, as most readers of the novel will testify, The Human Stain is not a work of fragments.

This is because, as eventually becomes clear, what does offer the novel its coherence is the voice and imagination of its narra- tor, Nathan Zuckerman. We see Zuckerman surveying the evidence for meaningful content just as a reader does, and then connecting that content imaginatively, just as the reader is wont to do.

Nonetheless, closure presents a problem. To understand the origin and necessity of this illusion, we must look to where the story begins for the writer, where the decision to undertake belief in the illusion comes.

The battle against death, the battle against premature closure, is now carried out by the creative writer, who with this recognition becomes the hero of the piece.

Faunia alone knew how Coleman Silk had come about being himself. How do I know she knew? He found a provision in the college constitution that said there were to be no executive committees, and arguing that those stodgy impediments to serious change had grown up only by convention and tradition, he abolished them and ruled these faculty meetings by fiat, using each as an occasion to announce what he was going to do next that was sure to stir up even more resentment.

The Human Stain by Philip Roth

In short, he brought in competition, he made the place competitive, which, as an early enemy noted, "is what Jews do. They prized him for taking the ruling elite out of their little club and threatening their self-presentation, which never fails to drive a pompous professor crazy. Heady times! How strong it was he had never entirely realized until he counted all the people, department by department, who seemed to be not at all displeased that the word the old dean had chosen to characterize his two seemingly nonexistent students was definable not only by the primary dictionary meaning that he maintained was obviously the one he'd intended but by the pejorative racial meaning that had sent his two black students to lodge their complaint.

I remember clearly that April day two years back when Iris Silk died and the insanity took hold of Coleman. Other than to offer a nod to one or the other of them whenever our paths crossed down at the general store or the post office, I had not really known the Silks or anything much about them before then. I hadn't even known that Coleman had grown up some four or five miles away from me in the tiny Essex County town of East Orange, New Jersey, and that, as a graduate of East Orange High, he had been some six years ahead of me in my neighboring Newark school.

Coleman had made no effort to get to know me, nor had I left New York and moved into a two-room cabin set way back in a field on a rural road high in the Berkshires to meet new people or to join a new community.

But then, on that afternoon two years back, having driven directly from making arrangements for Iris's burial, Coleman was at the side of my house, banging on the door and asking to be let in. Though he had something urgent to ask, he couldn't stay seated for more than thirty seconds to clarify what it was.

The human stain

If he wrote the story in all of its absurdity, altering nothing, nobody would believe it, nobody would take it seriously, people would say it was a ludicrous lie, a self-serving exaggeration, they would say that more than his having uttered the word "spooks" in a classroom had to lie behind his downfall.

But if I wrote it, if a professional writer wrote it. The way he careened around the room made me think of those familiar chickens that keep on going after having been beheaded. His head had been lopped off, the head encasing the educated brain of the once unassailable faculty dean and classics professor, and what I was witnessing was the amputated rest of him spinning out of control.

Killed her as if they'd taken aim and fired a bullet into her heart. It was, up close, bruised and ruined like a piece of fruit that's been knocked from its stall in the marketplace and kicked to and fro along the ground by the passing shoppers. There is something fascinating about what moral suffering can do to someone who is in no obvious way a weak or feeble person.

(PDF) Imagining Tragedy: Philip Roth's The Human Stain | Adam Kelly - caite.info

It's more insidious even than what physical illness can do, because there is no morphine drip or spinal block or radical surgery to alleviate it. Once you're in its grip, it's as though it will have to kill you for you to be free of it.

Its raw realism is like nothing else. For Coleman that alone explained how, out of nowhere, the end could have come to an energetic sixty-four-year-old woman of commanding presence and in perfect health, an abstract painter whose canvases dominated the local art shows and who herself autocratically administered the town artists' association, a poet published in the county newspaper, in her day the college's leading politically active opponent of bomb shelters, of strontium 90, eventually of the Vietnam War, opinionated, unyielding, impolitic, an imperious whirlwind of a woman recognizable a hundred yards away by her great tangled wreath of wiry white hair; so strong a person, apparently, that despite his own formidableness, the dean who reputedly could steamroll anybody, the dean who had done the academically impossible by bringing deliverance to Athena College, could best his own wife at nothing other than tennis.

Coleman rushed her to the hospital, but by the next day she was dead. And so he still believed. He was not susceptible to any other explanation. There's a small FM station over in Springfield that on Saturday nights, from six to midnight, takes a break from the regular classical programming and plays big-band music for the first few hours of the evening and then jazz later on.

On my side of the mountain you get nothing but static tuning to that frequency, but on the slope where Coleman lives the reception's fine, and on the occasions when he'd invite me for a Saturday evening drink, all those sugary-sweet dance tunes that kids of our generation heard continuously over the radio and played on the jukeboxes back in the forties could be heard coming from Coleman's house as soon as I stepped out of my car in his driveway. Coleman had it going full blast not just on the living room stereo receiver but on the radio beside his bed, the radio beside the shower, and the radio beside the kitchen bread box.

Oddly, he said, none of the serious stuff he'd been listening to all his adult life put him into emotional motion the way that old swing music now did: And all this," he explained, "from listening to Vaughn Monroe. You speak, and I hear violins". The teardrops were all spontaneously shed, however astonished he may have been by how little resistance he had to Helen O'Connell and Bob Eberly alternately delivering the verses of "Green Eyes," however much he might marvel at how Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey were able to transform him into the kind of assailable old man he could never have expected to be.

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