Adam Phillips, on Philip Roth, on betrayal..

A striking paragraph from ‘On Flirtation’.. (yeah, I know, it’s not exactly lolcat central around here these days… )

“..Roth has certainly been suggesting in his recent books that what people think they can say that will betray their partner – or their family, or friends – reveals something about the imaginary crime they are committing together (or wish they were committing). Deception, I think, was greatly underrated, partly because of its minimalism, at least by Roth’s standards, but also because he was on to something so discomforting: that one way we get to know people is by betraying them, and that we can suffer most as adults from not being able to let people down. And one lets people down – or ‘deceives’ them – when one refuses to be only one version of oneself. Consistency is compliance. So when people are alone in Roth’s novels – or with people who don’t know them – they come to a certain kind of life: as though fidelity, particularly to oneself, constrains the repertoire… We may regularly be asked to protect people’s favourite versions of themselves, but we don’t always have to agree…”


2 thoughts on “Adam Phillips, on Philip Roth, on betrayal..

  1. What a study in behavior, but I agree, honest is the key even if it’s not the popular opinion… allow me to quote

    If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything – Mark Twain
    No legacy is so rich as honesty – Will Shakespeare
    There’s only one way to have a happy marriage, when I learn what it is I’ll get married again. – Clint Eastwood

    Cheers from Ohio

  2. I’ve got On Flirtation, as well as the new Roth book that isn’t quite so new anymore. I need to read both of them. Sigh.

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