What emerges from these letters is a man constantly on the edge during troubled times. In many ways Roth reflects the turbulence of civilization coming apart at the seams. (I included a lot of excerpts from the letters at my website, trying to provide a flavor of his life as he described it.) Roth was a very complex, flawed, gifted, and troubled man. Even if he exaggerated some of his troubles in these letters, it’s a wonder that his novels were written under such circumstances. The troubles he foretold for Europe, though, were often accurate. Roth’s life, reflected in these letters, shows the price of being an émigré, not just from a country but from the world at large.
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