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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

14. Becoming Visible

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Activities: Author Activities

Philip Roth - Selected Archive Items

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[3024] Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., Levittown House of Mrs. Dorothy Aiskelly, Residence at 44 Sparrow Lane (1958),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-G613-72794].
The postwar generation saw the development of so-called "Levittowns," homogeneous suburbs that were first conceptualized by William Levitt in response to the postwar housing crunch. These communities were typically middle-class and white. Jews, only recently being considered "white," also flocked to the suburbs during this era. Philip Roth satirizes Jewish suburban life in Goodbye, Columbus, and Arthur Miller dramatizes the plight of the suburban Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.

[3048] Anonymous, Free Classes in English! Learn to Speak, Read, & Write the Language of your Children ... Special Classes for Educated Foreign Born. N.Y.C. (1936),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZC2-946].
Sign in Hebrew and English advertising free English-language and naturalization classes aimed at European Jewish immigrants. The classes were offered through the Works Progress Administration's Adult Education Program in New York City. Most Jewish immigrants in New York and other major cities lived in tight-knit communities where Hebrew or Yiddish was spoken.

[4743] Anonymous, Roth National Book Award (1960),
courtesy of the Associated Press (AP), Wide World Photos Office.
The narrator of "Defender of the Faith," published in Roth's award-winning Goodbye, Columbus, makes poignant reference to the contradictions of military service and Jewish assimilation in the wake of World War II.

[4764] Anonymous, Current Photo of Philip Roth (n.d.),
courtesy of Nancy Crampton and Houghton Mifflin Publishing.
Philip Roth's works vary from somber and unresolved questionings of Jewish American life, like his early story "Defender of the Faith" and his later American Pastoral, to more fantastical works like his 1971 novel The Breast.

[8854] Eric Sundquist, Interview: "Becoming Visible" (2003),
courtesy of American Passages and Annenberg Media.
Professor Eric Sundquist discusses Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint.

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