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Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth

Sabbath's Theater (original 1995; edition 1996)

by Philip Roth

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Title:Sabbath's Theater
Authors:Philip Roth
Info:Vintage (1996), Edition: 1st Vintage International ed, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library

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Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth (1995)



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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Sabbath is an unproductive, out-of-work, former puppeteer with a strong affinity for whores, adultery, and the casual sexual encounter. Sabbath takes great pleasure in his status as the (prototypical) "dirty old man." He takes an equal pleasure in manipulating the people around him, primarily women—in a sense, they play the same role as his puppets. The loss of a decades-long sexual sidekick—the equally adulterous Drenka—precipitates a crisis in a life he has long considered an utter failure. Sabbath wonders whether he should simply take his own life, thereby heeding the advice of the ghost of his departed mother, a frequent visitor who urges suicide as the fitting end for his failed life.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
A friend asked me what I would like for a recent birthday. I retorted, ‘Just go into a charity shop and pick a book you think I will like.’ A vague request to which a look of consternation followed, ‘What if you’ve read it?’ ‘Then I will probably love it then, and I will lie to you that I haven’t and pass it onto someone I know will love it also.’

That book was Sabbath’s Theater, and when he gave me it and I replied, ‘I have been meaning to read a Roth book for years.’ We were both happy. I set about the marathon read immediately.
When I write a book I always keep it as short as possible to tell the story, some of the masters/masteresses don’t seem to bother. Men are the worst because they have the confidence/indulgence/self-importance to go off on tangents, and this book has lots of those, which I love, but I know all don’t. This obviously makes the book longer than it need be, and if you, or more likely someone else, a friend, an editor, a writing group are being critical they will tell you to cut it out as it slows the narrative down. I still don’t know why authors plunge for a book that is far longer than it need be as it puts so many people off actually picking it up. The relationship is obvious between the length and finishing it, all the top 5 started and not read novels are for this reason alone, with probably the exception of Ulysses. The edition I read was 450 pages in length and point 10 writing, I summarise to try and fool a few more readers into reading it.

When I start a book I invariably finish it quite quickly, even though I read slowly and sometimes make notes. This book took me three months. Was it worth it? You bet, as I have stated earlier Roth is a master that has won every major prize in literature and for that reason alone you may wish to indulge. While I read this I could hear the echoes in other authors after and before; A M Holmes latter and Proust before.
This is a cracking read and it leaves you wanting to shake the main character (Mickey Sabbath), in the same way J M Coetzee does with David Lurie in Disgrace.

I would recommend this book as a great place to start with Roth, (or Portnoy’s Complaint.) I know a book is great when I don’t want anything in the world to interrupt the reading of the last 50-80 pages, this is such a book, for this reason I recommend it you… Oh, and thanks for the present Jock, 35 hours of enjoyment for £2.49, the whole world is a winner! ( )
  IanMPindar | Jan 2, 2015 |
Cosa fa Roth? Crea un mondo. Ma non un mondo fantasy: un mondo reale. Non verista: reale. Un mondo dove non vince la descrizione del particolare, ma *quel* particolare. Che spesso è assolutamente ininfluente - non è un thriller nel quale poi dopo 300 pagine capiremo che il colore di quel maglione era la chiave di volta del tutto - ma rende tridimensionale il narrare.
Poi, a questo mondo aggiunge personaggi le cui emozioni, pulsioni, fisicità sembrano oscene, ma in realtà sono solo trasparenti. La loro assenza in noi è solo sintomo di mancanza di coraggio - o di incapacità emotiva.
Poi la vita, la morte, il dolore, il sesso: quelli li conosciamo, nulla di nuovo. Ma vissuti così, raccontati così, non è da tutti. "Sabbath or a sabbath is generally a weekly day of rest and/or time of worship that is observed in any of several faiths. The term derives from the Hebrew shabbat (שבת), "to cease", which was first used in the Biblical account of the seventh day of Creation" L'umanità e la civiltà si riposano, si fanno da parte in questo vecchio Dioniso, sprezzante, irriverente, potente, libidinoso e primitivo che sbeffeggia tutti e tutto, forte di una creanza che solo a lui appartiene. Noi la possiamo solo seguire in un percorso che accompagna, con lunghissimi flashback, gli ultimi mesi della sua (s)folgorante esistenza. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
Ugh, this was really hard to get through. I would have given it one star, except for the fact that Philip Roth is an amazing writer.

The protagonist is vile. I like a anti-hero or villain as much as the next reader of literary fiction, but jeez, this character is something wholly different, a new low in humanity. I guess that is the brilliance of this novel, the fact that Roth created a character that *is* very complex, but has no redeeming qualities and just seems to ooze foul decisions and desires. ( )
  dulcinea14 | Sep 18, 2014 |
I love Philip Roth, and I've now read all of the Zuckerman books so I figured I'd head into other stuff he wrote.
What a disappointment! Roth always writes about sex, always a little shockingly, but what makes him great is what it says about the human condition. While I can't really relate to the sex lives of his characters, I still find a tremendous amount of commentary that speaks to me.
Sabbath's Theater, however, is all about sex and nothing else. I guess maybe it says something about the meaning of sexual obsession, but it doesn't give much of anything else.

...at least that's what I found in the first 60 pages or so, at which point I gave up. Too many great books out there to waste time on this. ( )
  DanTarlin | Sep 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
All that rawness becomes a road to a deeper truth, and by the novel's end, its cumulative dose of human hope and woe had me (and again I'm not alone in this) on my knees.
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Every third thought shall be my grave.

--The Tempest, act v, scene i
For Two Friends

Janet Hobhouse

Melvin Tumin
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Either foreswear fucking others or the affair is over.
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L'ho copiato da un articolo. Parola per parola.  La rivista dell'Etica Medica. "Si propone di classificare la felicità" alzò gli occhi e precisò: in corsivo. "Si propone di classificare la felicità tra i disordini mentali e di includerla nelle future edizioni dei principali manuali di diagnostica sotto questo nome: disordine affettivo primario, di tipo piacevole. Da un esame dei principali testi risulta che la felicità è statisticamente anormale, consiste di un discreto conglomerato di sintomi, è associata a una vasta gamma di anormalità cognitive, e probabilmente riflette un anormale funzionamento del sistema nervoso centrale. Una delle principali obiezioni alla proposta è che della felicità non si dà una valutazione negativa. Comunque è un'obiezione trascurabile dal punto di vista scientifico."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679772596, Paperback)

Mickey Sabbath, the hero in Sabbath's Theater, the winner of the 1995 National Book Award, makes a concerted effort to be bad. Like Alexander Portnoy, the famously self-abusing character in Roth's 1969 novel Portnoy's Complaint, Sabbath has an appetite for "acts of exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism, auto-eroticism and oral coitus." But while Portnoy's antics were usually comical and liberating, Sabbath often feels imprisoned by his own acts of self-indulgence. Though his frantic pursuit of sex is a desperate attempt to abate his anxieties about death, it only serves to obliterate any semblance of real life he could have had.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:44 -0400)

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The death of his mistress sends Mickey Sabbath, an audacious libertine and onetime producer, on a psychic journey into his past.

(summary from another edition)

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